Maria Sirotkina is a self-confessed serial entrepreneur and working mum of two. With a background in journalism and a recent Business MBA qualification, she confidently juggles multiple businesses across a number of languages.
Currently based in Gran Canaria, her company Jey STUDY specialises in finding education programmes for those wanting to study abroad. Maria’s most recent project, ReStation, focuses around the rising demand for coworking/coliving spaces, helping to fulfil the expanding needs of digital nomads and remote workers.
1. What inspired you to start working on a business to support remote workers and digital nomads?
I managed my business remotely for quite some time and always had the same struggles my clients have now: how to find your community and place to stay that fits my needs. Because digital nomads have different travel patterns and requests, they are not expats that can rent a permanent place and they are not tourists that will be happy with a room with no kitchen facilities, for example.
I believe remote work is the future of workspace. We are already living it, but it will be more mainstream, so I’m betting on it
2. Why do you think the remote work trend has taken off so much in the past year
It’s just that we’re on the acceptance stage of the innovation curve. All the facilities are there (internet, good level of WiFi penetration), early adopters have walked the road of remote work and several startups who capitalise on the early trend made the news. Remote Year played the role on popularising remote work, I think.
3. What are the key ingredients to the ultimate coliving space?
There are two, I think. Community space and the community itself. Space is easier: I’m talking about some physical “center of gravity” where everyone meets and spends time. It could be community kitchen, events space, shared office or a living room. Some place where you can go and meet other coliving residents without feeling uncomfortable. And that’s the place where you can break bread, normally!
The second one is more sophisticated: the community. That’s something that needs to be created and maintained, some “theme” or shared culture, shared memories or mission. The culture is essential to any coliving space. It actually differentiates one from a holiday apartments block or students dorm: coliving is a group of people sharing same culture.
4. With so much experience in business yourself, what’s the best piece of business advice that someone has ever given you?
I don’t remember now whether it was someone or a book, but it’s definitely about persistence. Year one is never great. Year two will be better. Business takes time to pick up even now, in the digital era. Summarising in one sentence: work hard and don’t exit too soon.
5. For all the aspiring millennial mums out there, how do you balance being a mum alongside being a successful business woman?
We’re both self-employed with my partner, so we understand one another and can rely on each other any time. This helps me a lot, because we can both take care of the kids and we do that. So I can travel any time without having to worry about leaving my kids with my husband. I work hard during the day, but evenings and weekends are booked for my family. I grew to become very organised because I have no time to waste!
And just for fun…
6. A parcel arrives for you, what do you hope is inside?
7. What’s the embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
I just had a meeting with my potential business partners. When it was time to finish the meeting, my partner – a CEO of a mid-size company – said “Okay, I’m heading out now to talk to a couple of my staff members before lunch”. I made a quick joke “I hope, not to fire them”? He went red, they were just there next to us and next thing he was going to do is to fire both. Oops.
8. If you could time travel, where would you go?
To the future to check out where my coliving “empire” grew and what’s it like there.
9. What’s your favourite thing to do with your kids?
Picnics outdoors. I love cooking, so I’d always prefer making food to eating out. As a family we all love playing games and when the weather is right, everyone has great time!
10. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A journalist. In fact, I became one and quickly realised it was a stupid dream. So I’m very happy I achieved it and – no regrets – I can move on!
Learn more about Maria and her most recent co-living/co-working project.
Thinking about taking the plunge into a digital nomad lifestyle? Check out Maria’s Trans-Siberian digital nomad train journey.