Martina Foti (Italy, Marketing) and Luis Enrique Echeverria (Netherland, Digital Media)

NE Martina Foti and her HE Luis Enrique Echeverria alongside another team member

New Entrepreneur (NE):
Name & surname: Martina Foti
Country: Italy
Age: 29
Sector of activity: Marketing, Advertising, Social Media
Did you already start your business? No
What is your (future) business? A digital communication and advertising agency

Host Entrepreneur (HE):
Name & surname: Luis Enrique Echeverria
Country: Netherland
Sector of activity: Community / Digital Media
Experience in running a business (in years): over 12 years
Name of business/website: Fashion Potluck, www.fashionpotluck.com
What is your business? Fashion Potluck is a woman community and a social media platform, counting over 35K female users monthly. Authentic, open, and approachable, the platform is offering a supportive and safe environment for women sharing articles about Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty, Travel and so on.

Period of exchange: 15.03.2021 – 14.07.2021
Duration of exchange: 4 months

What led Martina to start this experience?

Hello everyone, my name is Martina and I am from Italy. I’m a social media marketer but I don’t like to define myself in one field so I can say that I studied marketing and I like all its nuances: advertising, social media, communication, copywriting, visual, digital. That’s why up to now I’ve always done jobs where I did a bit of everything and whatever was needed in this field.

I’ve already lived in 3 different cities in Italy both for study and work, but I promised myself that before I turned 30 I wanted to do an experience abroad. I looked for ways to do an exchange that would allow me to stay abroad and at the same time grow professionally and I discovered online the YE programme. For the city of Amsterdam, I already knew that I would like to live here because I had come on holiday in previous years and I always thought that I would like the atmosphere to live every day.

The most stressful part was getting to know my future HE and the departure. I wanted to make sure I was doing something in line with my aspirations and abilities. I was very lucky because after the initial impact of leaving and getting to know my HE, I got on very well. Normally I don’t find it very difficult to settle in new places but in this case for me the most important thing was to find nice people who could teach me something for my future. And so it was.

The company where I carried out my exchange is very small and made up of just a few people, but this allowed me to have a second family and immediately forge deeper bonds. For me this was one of the most important things because I felt a bit lost in my first experience abroad, with habits, culture, language, climate so different from where I lived. Also, I came during the pandemic and I was a bit scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen and there were a lot of restrictions that didn’t allow me to experience the city as I would have liked both on a practical and social level.

But I’m happy to have started this adventure because it allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and I learned a lot on a human and professional level. After the outbreak of the pandemic, I felt trapped and failed for a year and couldn’t find my way or what I wanted to do in life.

I started my journey with new awareness, knowing that my dream is to be self-employed, manage my own time and my own clients and not have anyone telling me what to do. To do this, however, I still have to learn a lot and from someone with more experience. Here we are!       

A bond of trust and respect was immediately established with my HE. I really appreciate the help he gave me when I had some problems in the new city and the people he put me in touch with, he shared his friendships and knowledge with me. This goes beyond a simple working relationship and for this I can say I felt like a family.

My first goal was to create a network of people and also I understood how a community works and how to manage contacts. It was not easy in the beginning because I had to think with a different point of view and improve my English to communicate but after the first month it got much better.

My second challenge was to learn as much as possible on a professional level how to run a business and I found out that there is a lot to keep track of. Also, I had the opportunity to work and learn more things in the field of marketing, such as creating quality content and optimization of it, social media management and how to interface with users/customers. I learned how important it can be to build connections in a community with people and how to convey your values in the brand image and always be consistent with it.

My mentor has always encouraged me to follow my passions, even outside my job, and has always given me compliments if I did a good job. For me this is very important because I felt stimulated and inclined to always do my best. He also gave me good advice on how to start and run a business over time and what I should focus on to be successful. My HE always involved me in all their projects, challenges, trainings and in the successes/problems there were. I will keep in touch with him and visit him again in Amsterdam.

I am now more aware of what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to menage my business. I am happy to have achieved my goals in this exchange and to have done so in a constructive way. I now realize that it was also useful to get out of my comfort zone, to get to know new ways of working, new points of view and people.

Thanks to this experience I was able to understand what I really want in life and what I like to do. I recommend to all people who want to escape a bit from their routine or who are not sure of what they want, to do this experience because it will give them an intense but positive challenge.