This week saw a big round of publicity for a new website that matches traveling geeks to startups that are looking for part-time help. “Scared of having a gap on your CV after that long trip? Fear no more,” wrote one of the founders of Backpack Consulting, submitting his site’s URL to “Hacker News.” It’s part of what might become the next hip new travel trend. Backpack is one of several Web sites are now offering to combine your next vacation with a little bit of part-time work.
Backpack Consulting offers a way to match vacationing travelers with tech volunteering opportunities and maybe some free accommodations. The appeal to potential employers is the lure of extra help. Their home page points out that “Travelers with skills in web development, graphic design or others can help you achieve some difficult tasks, in exchange offer them a great professional experience.”
Before coming up with the idea for the service, co-founder Carlos Paz spent more than three years on the Enterprise Applications Consulting Team at Deloitte Consulting. It was January when they first published their landing page, and March when they saw the first trip organized successfully through the site. (There’s even a link to some video footage of the trip.) In April, they were one of eight startups selected for a British “pre-accelerator” program run by Oxygen Startups. If nothing else, the site is a great read — a travel blog with an entrepreneurial kick.
In a new essay published on “Medium,” Markus Hafellner, the company’s other co-founder, tells the story of a Canadian woman named Stephanie who traveled to London, staying with (and working for) a start-up in the sports fashion sector that she’d found on their site.
“She spent a couple of hours per day to help Flybery on topics that really spur her interest and got free accommodation in one of the most expensive cities of the world in exchange,” he wrote. In the essay, Stephanie describes it as “An amazing personal and professional experience,” and her employer seems satisfied, too.
The site asks travelers to connect their LinkedIn profile to the site, which then uses it to create a stub describing their past work experience. The LinkedIn “Summary” becomes a “Skills and Experience” section, and then the site simply requests travel dates (and the country) and the visitor’s preferred industry (with the default value being “Internet”). There’s only one more question — preferred start-up size (less than 10 employees, less than 50, or larger) — and of course, “You can add as many destination countries as you want …” Potential employers are asked a few more questions — for example, needed skills.
Backpack Consulting is not the only site offering this service. WorldPackers.com offers to help travelers “Find unique places around the world where you can exchange your skills for accommodation.” EarthWatch Institute encourages “citizen scientists” to join environmental research projects. And of course, there are two non-profits — Global Volunteers and Globe Aware — which have both been organizing “Volunteer Vacations” for at least 15 years, though they tend to focus on the truly needy.
Feature Image: Backpack Consulting.