This was the eigth installment of Coderbunker’s Innovation Fridays series. Evrim Kanbur, the founder of the social network Expat Neighbors , a unique community that triggers neighborhood spirit and While Travelling Blog told us her inspiring story of how she established her life as an expat and created a community by building personal connections.
As a blogger, a non-tech entrepreneur leading a tech team, and an excellent story teller, Evrim pivoted her expat neighborhood from a small district to 230M expat worldwide, inspiring more and more people to go outside and explore the world.
It all started with her painful days as a new expat when she couldn’t afford the potato salad priced at 30 RMB. When Evrim finally saved all her coins to get the potato salad, she went straight to the supermarket and grabbed her dinner. She was so excited and cycling so fast when suddenly the potato salad dropped out her basket. Even the last piece was smashed by a car from the busy street.
“Why do I do this to myself? Why do we, people as expats who work abroad leaving all the comfort behind?” Evrim asked herself. Instead of living through all these similar problems alone, Evrim realized she was not the only one who encountered the difficulties, “There are similar minded people living close to me, I wanted neighborhood connections here too.”
Evrim started to approach people after she had the idea. “People value personal connections,” said Evrim. Surprisingly, she created a community with 90 people in 90 days helping each other. Evrim went to the online platform and spreaded the community to other districts in Shanghai. This was the birth of Expat Neighbors.
The meeting was just a start. As the group grew larger, Evrim still went to every event to select the right people. “People need to feel sincere and emotionally safe, and even one single hug is important.” Evrim also talked about the problems in the management, “Sometimes we need to kick out the negative people. We need to build the right team and establish a well-functioning communication within the team.”
Hug is a ritual for Expat Neighbors and the special action makes people feel “they are in a home away from home, a family away from family” , said Evrim in one interview. Up till now, Evrim has already launched 169 Meetups with 3K people and business in 11 districts, 195 business involved.Her energy and personal charisma inspires people to take actions and go out to communicate with each other.
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