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Culture Trip CEO talks career change, tech, travel, and rebirth

Culture Trip CEO Kris Naudts talked with us about his entrepreneurial spirit that created the global media startup. Discover how the travel platform harnesses tech to bring the world to its users, and how it’s never too late to change careers.

With up to three million social media followers, and seven million monthly users, the Culture Trip is indisputably a global brand.

Thus, people around the world refer to its multinational portfolio of local insight and recommendations to bolster their travel experiences, and cultural enrichment.

CEO of the Culture Trip Kris Naudts describes what led him to build this influential platform, and how his previous career in psychiatry laid the foundations of its creation.

Culture Trip - Compelo
Courtesy of the Culture Trip

Culture Trip CEO Kris Naudts tells all

Why did you decide on such a dramatic career change?

I greatly enjoyed my psychiatric career but achieved most milestones very early on. So, I was thinking the ‘What now?’ question. Also, it really struck me how much psychiatry is about understanding and fixing. I really wanted to build or create something. Adding this to my very strong, lifelong passion for global culture and stories, then you actually have the main ingredients for a career change and setting up a startup.

How has your psychiatry background influenced insight into The Culture Trip’s user behaviour?

My PhD focussed on the neuroscience behind attention, memory and emotional processing. The difference between the former and their relation to the latter influence to an extent how we approach social media. It’s an area I am very keen for us to explore further, though and I am on the look out for cognitive neuroscientists to join us and help bring more neuroscience to the media and creative industries.

Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?

Yes, very much so. From as far back as I can remember I have always been bursting with entrepreneurial drive, starting and chairing all sorts of projects and initiatives and pushing things forwards. My entrepreneurial spirit was definitely key to my fast career progress in psychiatry and towards the end of my psychiatric career, I was medical director of a new psychiatric hospital which gave me a further, real life taste for fast-growing business.

How has the Culture Trip’s foundation on books lead to its reputation as a global travel resource?

I think of The Culture Trip as primarily a tech company with creative, location or destination-based content as its ‘products’. Our app, site and social media channels are highly useable for travel inspiration of course and a ton of people do use it for this, myself included. The foundation of the company were novels set in a particular location/destination, something I spent a lot of time researching for in my own travels. The organisation and presentation of our current ever-expanding content by ‘location/destination’ still rests entirely on that early idea.

What entrepreneurs do you admire?

My older brother, who built two highly successful businesses by his early 30s, first in retail, then in healthcare. He ended up overreaching and lost everything. However, he then picked himself back up after a few dire years. He became even more successful in a third industry, this time in real estate. I also continue to be amazed by Jeff Bezos and the relentless, ongoing march and innovation of Amazon. I am in awe.

What were the challenges you faced in such a dramatic career change, and what advice would you give to others?

You really have to start all over again. No industry network, no credibility in the sector, no specialist knowledge. I only had the excessive determination to remedy all three. So, my advice? Unless you’re prepared to put yourself through an entire social and emotional rebirth of sorts, don’t bother. But if you are, and it works out, it feels like an entire new life within a life, which is extremely enriching and exciting.

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