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Where Adventure Travel Meets Tech Startup on the Silk Road

From Renée Gray / TheNanjinger / 2018-06-08

There can surely be little in common between the startup culture of today’s tech innovators and a Chinese/Korean duo setting out to cycle from Shanghai to London, or can there?

Headlines in Australia this morning announced the rescue of Korean thrill seeker, Joohee Han, 25, who has spent the past 6 days lost down a ravine. Surviving only on creek water, Han disappeared last Friday when she fell down one of Cairns’ most dangerous mountains whilst attempting to climb it.

While Ms. Han certainly is not the first person to survive in the wilderness after an adventure has gone awry, Westerners are usually featured a lot more when it comes to thrill seeking than the Asian population. Traditionally, young Asians have had a tendency to air on the side of caution, get stellar grades in school and find a promising career.

Yet, those days of academic brilliance and an iron-like filial devotion could be numbered. Certainly it seems this way with North Asia’s new budding generation of smart, accomplished young entrepreneurs who speak loudly of breaking tradition and following their dreams. One such trailblazer who is in Nanjing and about to embark on what she says will be the trip of her life, shared her ambitious plan with those attending the first of what she calls her “tech meet-ups”.

 

Ex-financial journalist for Shanghai’s TechNode, and Korean native Eva Yoo, has teamed up with Chinese native Li Jianan, to ditch their fast-paced careers in Shanghai and Shenzhen for what will be a 10-month cycling adventure along the ancient Silk Road. The pair’s ambitious journey is set to take them through 13 countries beginning in China before crossing the border on to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland and France until they reach the UK, before returning back to South Korea.

 

Beginning on 2 June, 2018, the trip is expected to end in March 2019, while the second city stop on their China tour has seen them visit Nanjing’s Tencent Incubator in Qixia’s Startup village. In an interview with The Nanjinger, Eva spoke of her difficulties finding sponsors for the project; “I reached out to all China’s big startup brands, when I didn’t hear anything positive back I turned to Korean companies, which ended up becoming most of our sponsors”.

 

So what do startups have to do with all of this you might ask? Eva and Jianan’s main sponsor is Shanghai-based startup blockchain company Robin8, a leader in global AI and big data, consumer-driven advertising. And as a result of her 3 years working in the tech world in Shanghai, Eva herself has developed a network of startup connections who have lent a helping hand in one way or another, such as the VR company that operates from the very conference room where the meeting was held at the Tencent Incubator.

 

Reaching 30 years of age, the two decided that now is the right time to embark on what they are calling their “seek your dream” passion. Hoping to share her passion for following her dreams, Seek Your Dream, is aimed at “those who want to break free from tradition, and follow their dreams”. Eva was inspired by watching a Eurasia cycling documentary filmed by fellow Korean Sang-eun An, spurred on further by her time spent in Ecuador volunteering, as she put it, “without a smart phone”.

 

Making reference to the many European cyclists she has met in Shanghai groups that have encouraged her trip, Eva said, “I initially planned to stop in Turkey, but then when I met a British couple in their 50s who had cycled from London to Shanghai, I knew I could do it”. Along the way, the cyclists plan to hold 14 “tech meet-ups” and aim to interview startup entrepreneurs along the Silk Road, which China now refers to as its One Belt One Road initiative.

Eva's tech startup interviews in 10 countries

Seekroad events in 13 cities on silk road "seek your dream"

Event in Shanghai, China / May 25th, 2018

Event in Nanjing, China / June 8th, 2018

Event in Xi'an, China / June 29th, 2018

Event in Almaty, Kazakhstan / August 29th, 2018

Event in Baku, Azerbaijan / September 20th, 2018

Event in Tbilisi, Georgia / October 5th, 2018

Event in Istanbul, Turkey / November 9th, 2018

From here, Eva hosts the event by herself.

Event in Thessaloniki, Greece / November 25th, 2018

Event in Tirana, Albania / December 10th, 2018

Eva,
Thank you so much for this very nice talk. You are a really inspiring person and it was so nice to meet you! I liked your saying just speak it out, i think i need to do this for my idea as well.
I wish you a very nice travel and stay safe till you arrive london. If you are ever in Switzerland again let me know.
All the best,
Olivier Wicki (not in the picture)

Event in Milan, Italy / December 30th, 2018

The event was held 30 minutes after Eva found that she got her bike stolen.

Tonylee Goñi (guy with blue jacket)

I learned from her that I don't require any certificates to chase my dreams if I work with passion and dedication, that the personality to stay strong in adverse situations is more important, that being a good and kind person should be prime to all motives, that once I decide to do something and the right amount of effort I give into it then surely I'll get success and to be grateful for whatever I have, I've become forever inspired by Eva and words can't express my boundless gratitude for her, I feel so thankful!

Add paragraph text here.

Event in Paris, France / January 18th, 2019

Eva found a bar that has open MIC event on every Thursday. She also read the poem "Ithaka"

Event in London, U.K. / January 28th, 2019

Eva returns to Seoul on airplane.

Zara (2nd lady from the right side)

Very inspiring to cycle as a woman along. The idea to cycle around the world first came into my head 1.5 yeas ago. My biggest obstacle is now to be able to fund the trip. Thank you so much for the presentation and inspiration.

Event in Shanghai, China / March 29th, 2019

Eva goes back to Shanghai to give a wrap-up of her 8-month journey.

Angela (the lady standing right behind Eva)  

She invited me to an event she was holding across town, in the tallest building in Shanghai where I'd never been, and I got to hear a presentation on her amazing bicycle trip from Shanghai to London and meet some of her other friends and contacts from when she lived in Shanghai.

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