Sunday, July 3, 2022

Interview with Erika Benson, Entrepreneur and ErikaWithAK’s Owner

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1- Hello Erika, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

An architect by training, I currently work in affordable housing finance in New York City. I have always loved to travel and spent much of my early twenties trying to see as many countries as possible. Prior to moving to NYC, I lived in Nicaragua for two years and also spent time in West Africa and the Middle East. After settling down and moving to New York City, I met Abhinav, who shares my love of travel. We have now visited all 50 states and hope to someday visit every country. Together we started ErikaWithAK as a way to collect stories on travel and everyday life around the world from those who share our passion for adventure and exploration.

2- What are your focus areas and why?

We focus on collecting travel and personal stories about life around the world. We love to explore and discover new places, and we would like to create a spot where anyone can share their experiences and learn about other localities. Our hope is that our website will be a small window into life in other parts of both the USA and the world for all who are interested in expanding their horizons.

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3- How do you describe “ErikaWithAK” in few words? is a website seeking to build a collection of personal travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages, and towns in every corner of the world. The website is designed to be a democratic forum that is open to as many writers as possible while also ensuring that content is well-written, engaging and interesting.

4- Where do you think you are making an impact?

There are many wonderful travel blogs out there, such as NomadicMatt and The Blonde Abroad, showcasing the interesting and inspiring lives of people devoted to travel. We love reading these blogs (and anything travel related); however, we noticed that there was no website that simply collected travel stories from ordinary travelers and writers. We hope to fill this void and provide a place where everyone may share their stories.

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5- Can you tell us about your business strategies?

Our strategy is to consistently provide quality content while simultaneously expanding the number of authors and collecting an enormous compilation of travel stories. Wikipedia should consider this as an open challenge (laughs)!

6- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

We hope to keep growing and collecting stories. We have now been in existence for 4 months and already have over 70 authors on our site. We hope to keep up this growth rate over the next couple of years and eventually assemble the largest collection of travel stories on the web. Within the next couple of years, we also plan to release a series of books containing the best stories submitted to ErikaWithAK.

7- What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on “ErikaWithAK”?

For me personally, the biggest challenge has been to learn all the ends and outs of building a blog, such as SEO, website design, and WordPress, while juggling my full-time job. I don’t have a background in technology so everything is new for me, but it’s been a wonderful learning experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The fastest way to learn is by doing!

8- What can you tell young entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams?

It may be a bit clique, but you just have to get up and get started. Don’t be afraid to start. Every project requires an initial investment of time and money, and yes, it’s risky, but you won’t get anywhere without making that investment.

9- What are you most excited about at the moment?

We are most excited about our recently released book featuring the top stories from 2017. This first volume of the best of ErikaWithAK includes 15 hand-picked stories ranging in location from the United States to Antarctica. The selected stories chronicle a monk’s funeral in Thailand, a backpacker’s paradise in Laos, puppeteering in Iran, conversations with a motorcycle sensei and a local train ride through Myanmar that requires nerves of steel and a bucket full of sand.

10- The last word or final thoughts?

If you have a story you would love to share with the world, send it our way! We always love to hear from new writers.

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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