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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Studying Abroad Leads to Global Project for Northumbria Entrepreneur
By Claire Young 02-Sep-15
A Northumbria University graduate with a passion for adventure is embarking on a global business project – with a little help from members of the public. Marius Nazare, 23, is part of a team of entrepreneurs behind Podstel – the world’s first crowdsourced hostel. The team is aiming to open a network of innovative experience-focused hostels all over the world, funded through crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Podstel guests will stay in unique pod capsules and will be able to take part in workshops, events and trips as part of their stay – a marked difference to traditional hostels with limited shared facilities. Marius – who was born in Romania and moved to England at the age of 10 – graduated from Northumbria’s International Business Management course last year with first class honors. While at university Marius took the opportunity to study abroad at three of Northumbria’s international partner institutions in Asia and Europe to broaden his global experience. After meeting Podstel founder Daniel Beaumont two years ago when traveling around South East Asia, the two shared their business ideas and began working together, subsequently launching the Podstel website. They are now working to develop the business, finalize the crowdfunding campaign and spread the message about their innovative concept. They hope to open their first hostel in Leipzig, Germany before expanding across the globe. Marius was one of the first Northumbria students to take up the opportunity to study in three different locations as part of the University’s Study Abroad program and says his drive and determination to make a success of the project has come from his time overseas as part of his course. Much of his passion for the Podstel project was driven by his own experience of staying in hostels while globetrotting during his university holidays. He said: “Traveling and studying helped me open my mind – it’s a very powerful combination. Northumbria helped instil a sense of adventure in me and made me want to get involved in a project that I believe has a global imprint. “Staff at Northumbria are very encouraging about everything related to overseas study and there is a big focus on getting students to think about studying abroad as part of any course, with emphasis on the fact there is plenty of support available. “The experience of studying and working abroad was priceless and I would recommend it to everyone. “I spent three of my semesters abroad – in The Netherlands, France and South Korea – and each was a fantastic experience. My CV now has three different countries on it, which makes a huge difference at job interviews.” The University’s international team stays in touch with each student during their time studying abroad, with regular communication helping staff build a detailed record of how gaining international experience can impact on peoples’ lives. Students have 24-hour phone support available from Northumbria and are further supported by the international coordinators and exchange teams in the host universities. Marius explained how his International Business Management course has helped him develop the idea for Podstel. “The course helped me develop an understanding of the international business environment, a crucial factor to consider in today's globalized world. This knowledge is something I’ve been able to apply directly to my work with Podstel. “Learning about strategic management in my final year has proved useful in developing the Podstel business model. It’s important to have a good theoretical grounding in a concept but knowing how to apply what you’ve learned in a practical sense is essential. “While traveling I’ve stayed in more than 300 hostels and though you get a bed, a shower and sometimes wifi, you don’t get the chance to take anything valuable from the experience. We want to create a platform where people will not only have a great experience, but will also be inspired. We believe in positive change through travel and education. We want to create something that’s more than a hostel, a place that adds value.” Dr Alison Pearce, senior lecturer for Strategic Management & International Business, leads on Northumbria’s International Staff Mobility and Exchange project. She said the University will continue working with Marius and will send students and staff to Podstel in Leipzig to see the project in action. Podstel will also help the University set up short educational experiences for students who cannot commit to longer periods of study. Alison said: “The information we gather from keeping in touch with our Study Abroad students helps us carry out research into the effects and impact of international study. “Marius is leading the way in showing how studying abroad can be a life-changing experience.”
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