Get in touch with people who inspire you, who you think are gritty people. When you are in the company of high professionals who succeed in one or another area of interest, subconsciously you will try to be on their level. This will lead you to become more gritty too.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Marina Shumaieva — tech evangelist, speaker, entrepreneur and travel enthusiast, processing a master degree in Computer Science. Marina is the co-founder and chief technical officer at CruiseBe, Inc. — one-stop shop marketplace and social network for cruisers & B2B turnkey technology solutions for the cruise industry. Besides Marina`s daily responsibilities such as coordination all technical aspects of the company, establishing the technical strategy and technological roadmap, Marina is also an active speaker on major travel and IT conferences covering topics about AI chatbots, the use of Machine learning and voice-enabled assistants in the travel industry.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path.
This story may seem trivial to someone, but I think you will find tips on how to drop everything, come up with an idea, and build the business from scratch.
I grew up like a regular girl who read popular best-sellers, played the piano and watched Hollywood movies. I always pictured myself working in a large beautiful office, doing something important at the computer with a cup of coffee.
I never thought of myself as a business lady, and I did not feel strong enough to build my business. Even after the university, despite my specialization in programming and the opportunity to be a successful freelancer, I chose to work for someone. I got into software corporation SAP, and I do not regret about that time.
Like many others, I loved traveling, especially sea cruises.
I was lucky that my husband shared this hobby with me, so we spent our honeymoon on the cruise. It was during this cruise that we noted a particular problem in planning this type of vacation. We even sketched out some basic ideas. However, the cruise ended, and we returned to our standard works. Only in a couple of years, we finally realized that the problem was not solved and we were able to help. That’s how our startup appeared. That’s how I turned from an ordinary employee into a co-founder and CTO at the travel tech startup — CruiseBe. I managed to combine my hobby and work. This fantastic synergy has become the work of my life.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Sometimes you have to make a tough decision and let things go, even if you don`t want to. This way there will be new space for better things to come into your life. In my story, the tough decision was to move to another country to start a new business. Originally I am from Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and the main cruise market is the US. Cruises are a rather popular type of vacation in the US. Almost 20% of Americans have taken at least one cruise in their life. It was obvious that to launch a business you have to be where the market is. Just imagine you pack your things, take a long flight and you are here, in a place, that will eventually become your new home. You are in a new country with an entirely new culture, language, laws, etc. But somewhere inside you hear your inner voice that your business idea is worth all these efforts, and you begin to work hard.
Now we have come a long way. We launch new products, actively work on traffic, but still, we have even more ahead.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
In the process developing the CruiseBe MVP (minimum viable product) and launching it on the market, I`ve done a lot of thinking about if our product is ready to satisfy early customers` needs, if we are really solving the existing problem on the market, if all this touch pass was done for some purpose. There were a lot of doubts and the same amount of reasons why you should keep going. The time has come, the product is launched and we got the first customers` reviews. This is it! This is the best feeling ever to get positive reviews and to get the realization that your product is needed and useful. Despite any doubles, failures, and problems, when you see these positive customer`s reviews, you just can not give up, you have to go further, make improvements and implementations to the product, grow your company and provide as many useful features as you can come up with.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Things don`t always work out that way you planned. It may sound odd but I am never afraid to face obstacles. They make me stronger and open a second breath. They make me reactivate my grit and concentrate on solving the problem.
What I am always saying to myself: don’t be afraid and never give up. Though this phrase sounds pretentious, sometimes you feel frustrated, despite all the inner strength, desire, and perseverance. You are afraid to make a decision, you are scared to be responsible for something, or you are simply tired of everything. Always try to find the strength. You still have this strength. It could hide somewhere, fall asleep for a while, but it is inside of us. This strength will help you if it comes to a desperate moment.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
Today I am focused on bringing innovation to the travel industry and sharing my experience and knowledge with the audience. After launching the first cruise AI chatbot on Facebook Messenger, I was invited to be the speaker on several major travel conferences and share CruiseBe case study. I enjoyed this feeling being among people who share your point of view, who are decision-makers in the travel industry and who are also working towards the direction to use and implement innovative technology into the market. With the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence technique and various machine learning algorism that can simplify and improve a lot of business process in the company, we can not stand aside. In my speeches, I am talking about the use of AI and ML as one of the leading technology for making a virtual travel agent for the cruise industry.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
– Your work/project must inspire you. If you get up in the morning, and you don`t want to go to work, then you should take a day off. If you get up the next morning, and you feel the same, then probably you should take one more day off. If on the third day you still don`t feel the desire to go to your work, then you are doing something wrong. You won`t be able to achieve any goals and do your job properly if you are not excited about what you are doing.
– Read motivated books and watch motivated films. Sometimes you need to see how other people achieve their goal and this will lead you to the thought “If they could do it then it is possible and I can do it too”. Believe in yourself.
– Set deadlines for your goals. You have to feel competitive and feel the time limit. It will push you to work harder and more effective.
– Be yourself. Modern society is often ready to attach labels, wants to see us being special and to turn us into some kind of similar robots that will look the same, do the same, and think the same way. Try always to remain yourself; don’t roll over for the standardization. I’m not saying that you do not need to follow accepted rules, but you should still be yourself.
– Get in touch with people who inspire you, who you think are gritty people. When you are in the company of high professionals who succeed in one or another area of interest, subconsciously you will try to be on their level. This will lead you to become more gritty too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
My husband, co-founder and soul mate, all in one — Alex Shumaiev. We`ve been married for five years and working together on different projects even more. Each of us has their ups and downs, but we are always there for each other to help, support and do whatever it needs. We know the stories when women alone achieved great success. However, it will be easier and calmer if you find a partner, co-founder who will share your worldview, be critical about your ideas, and will be ready to help you in any situation.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In a life of a startuper it is tightly connected. You cannot succeed without making a useful product that will bring, as you say, goodness to the world. The product I have created, the website, mobile app, and chatbot, helps thousands of cruisers to save their time and energy and plan cruise vacation in one click.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My team is always up for challenges, and we always have several developing projects on our roadmap. It is a non-stop process as CruiseBe technology has to be up-to-date. Besides, the travel market is growing, new problems arise, and CruiseBe creates new solutions.
As I have already mentioned, part of CruiseBe product is the cruise itinerary aggregator for cruisers available via the website and mobile application. A user selects his cruise date, and our algorithm generates a day-by-day schedule of a cruise with a complete list of activities and attractions in each port of call and on the ship. Besides a user can easily find their way onboard via interactive deck plans and offline route navigation system.
To enhance our solutions, now we are working on Google Action for Google Home and Google Assistant. Based on the already launched AI Facebook chatbot, we are moving further to create voice-enables cruise assistant. As a result, a user will be able to plan their cruise vacation by voice, just by asking any information about their ports of call, cruise ship, etc.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
It is not about what you CAN do; it is about what you WANT to do. You can easily find millions of reasons, excuses, and self-believes that it is just impossible to reach your goal. But if you are really inspired by what you are doing, if you really WANT and NEED it, sooner or later you will achieve your goal. And it works in every case, in every situation, with every person. It is all about you and what you want.
So if you are trying to find excuses that you simply can not do something, then you are just not sure if you really need this.
If we are talking about employees, an executive`s goal is to assign appropriate tasks to their employees. An employee will make their work 100% better if he/she is inspired and interested in their work.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A rather hot topic right now is Women in Tech. I definitely support this movement. I think that the main thing that women in tech are doing wrong — we are always trying to prove someone (men) what we can do, that we are worth working in this field.
But no, you just don`t need to spend your precious time on this. Just do your job and be the best in what you are doing.
Yes, women are thinking in another way, and this can be the key to success (e.g., developing new algorithms, new technologies, etc.)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare.
You can not undo things you’ve done in the past; there is only one way to move forward. But you will never know if something works out unless you try it.
In my case, I would never know if I could launch a company and become an expert in my area of business if I wouldn’t take a chance on it.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Just recently during the winter holidays, I did my personal website: https://marinashumaieva.com where I am planning to share some articles with my experience and case studies. Also you can follow me on my social networks:
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.