Head in the Clouds. Feet on the Ground.
20 years of impact through startups and adventures.
Helping people and organisations do work that matters to them (& the world) - startups, exciting careers, impact business & digital nomads.
Currently: Rebel Book Club.
Organisations & projects I support with donations or time.
Started 'Career Break Cafe' blog after driving to Timbuktu to help people plan long-terms trips mid-career
Crowdfunded the renting of Vorovoro Island in Fiji (with 1000 new tribe members): Tribewanted was born
Survived an island fire, a cyclone & a political coup in the first year of island life
Celebrated 3 years island success - BBC tv documentary & book: 'Paradise or Bust'
Travelled to Sierra Leone & worked with Right to Dream on setting up the Craig Bellamy Football Academy
Spoke at launch party of Escape the City before setting up camp for a year on the beach in SL
Became a founding member of THNK: The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership.
Supported the Ghanaian Paralympic team from Right to Dream with my fiancee at London 2012
Launched Tribewanted's first European project: Monestevole, a farm in Umbria, with Filippo Bozotti
Advised entrepreneurs at Virgin Startup, wrote about 'Schools for Life', mapped the world's treehouses & made the first 'Escape to the Woods' festival
Spent the winter hosting startups in Bali with Tribewanted (& pool hunting), started Rebel Book Club in London & led the startup tribe programs at Escape the City
Full-tilt at Escape London - leading 2 more startup tribes & building our team. Rebel Book Club hits 20 books + 150 members
Consolidated the Escape School - leading 2 more accelerators + getting our curriculums online. Mentoring at THNK & ZINC.vc + workshops with Virgin Starutp. Read 50 books in a year!
Strengthened the startup programmes at the Escape School. Doubled size of Rebel Book Club. Moved our family to Ko Lanta in Thailand!
Its not what you start, its that you start. Selling online ads is hard.
Braveness is rewarded but comes with significant responsibility. Don't complicate the mission.
Tenacity is critical but being clear on priorities is not easy. Feedback can be good for the head but not for the heart.
Ego can be the enemy if you're not careful. Power is better shared.
New beginnings can revitalise.
Taking on the biggest challenge not always the best business move but often the best life move.
Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground.
Inspiration can come from unlikely sources - stay open.
Sometimes its good to pick low hanging fruit.
Creativity should be central to most things.
Mindsets shift with community. Scaling impact models not easy.
Building a team (& family at the same time) is hard.
Focus on the product. Easy to say, hard to do well. When we did it made a big difference.
Sometimes your comfort zone is closer than you think.
1999-2019: 20 years of startups and adventures.
On January 14, 2006, Ben Keene received an email that changed his life. The weather outside was rainy, windy, and freezing and Keene was holed up in his loft office, the window fogged with mist. He had just taken a sip of hot tea when the message popped up, and Keene did a double take at the subject line: “A TRIBE IS WANTED”
From this point Ben spent 10 years building Tribewanted: crowdfunded sustainable-tourism villages on an island in Fiji (which was turned into as a 5 part BBC series and book), a beach in Sierra Leone and a farm in Umbria.
Since then Ben has worked on a number of social enterprise and startup projects including Right to Dream (sports development and leadership in Africa), Escape the City (helping 1000s quit their corporate jobs to do something different), Virgin Startup (small business loans and support for startups), and THNK (a creative leadership school).
Ben has shared his adventurous startup stories and learnings with audiences all over the world including at a CIA conference in Las Vegas.
Ben has spent the last 6 months living on a Thai Island with his wife and 3 young kids, whilst working remotely as a business mentor and building Rebel Book Club, a growing community of 500+ subscribers in 5 cities.
Persuading people to give their big ideas a go.
Reducing financial risk.
Creative, cheap ways to test ideas.
Building community & momentum.
Aligning social and environmental purpose with strong business models.
"Couldn't put this book down - What a story. In a world where most of us fail to attempt anything bold, exciting or different it is refreshing to read of an entrepreneur who does so half the world away in a profoundly unique, intact Polynesian culture. Great pictures, too!"