Digital nomad couple start business without borders

Date 23.07.2018

Two University of Northampton graduates-turned-entrepreneurs are ready to risk it all to become ‘digital nomads’ as they take their fledgling business halfway across the world.

Penni Stanton and her partner Jo Pickering are taking their two woman marketing and design agency, Kabo Creative, with them to south-east Asia, Europe and then the USA – right after they tie the knot in August.

“We both took a deep breath and decided you only live once,” said Penni, who graduated with first class honours in BA Marketing in 2012.

“We’ve always wanted to travel, but with careers and a mortgage it never seemed practical. We’re now renting out our home and taking one year to live and work abroad after we get married.”

Most clients would understandably be a bit concerned if their trusted agency partners were about to up sticks and go travelling, but surprisingly Kabo’s clients are delighted for Penni and Jo.

Penni added: “We’ll be working full time as we travel, apart from our two-week honeymoon at the beginning of our trip. Luckily we run the kind of business where we almost never need to see clients face-to-face. When we broke the news to our biggest client, they loved the idea as they can brief us on something urgent at the end of their working day and we can work on it while they are sleeping.

“It’s only one year of travel, and after that we may take a month or two of working holidays in the future, but as our business grows we’re unlikely to be able to leave the country as easily as we can right now.”

As fellow directors of Kabo, Penni and Jo, have been ying to each other’s yang ever since they met over a decade ago – and this partnership has transferred to their business.

Jo herself has just this year graduated with first class honours in a BA Fine Art course at the University of Northampton.

Penni said: “Working with Jo is brilliant. We met 10 years ago when we both worked in the same pub, and together we’ve supported each other through university and on to this next adventure. We’re both very driven and goal-orientated which helps!”

Entering the risky world of entrepreneurship was not one Penni and Jo took lightly, and it took a huge family crisis to make them re-evaluate their future.

Penni added: “A couple of years ago my father had an unexpected heart attack, followed by a heart bypass. It was a shock, but he made a full recovery and it made us stop and think about what we wanted from life. We’re in our 30s, and neither of us could face the idea of working the 9-5 within the limitations of an office culture for the next 40+ years.

“So when I quit my job as a marketing manager at a tech firm, we both became directors of Kabo, with Jo working part-time initially, as she was still at university at the time. Ten months later, Jo has now graduated and we’ve both put in our fair share of long working days, but it’s also been fantastic fun. Neither of us could go back to ‘normal’ jobs now.”

They both pay tribute to their time at the University of Northampton for helping them springboard into the world of business – and they are still reaping the benefits now.

Penni said: “Jo and I really enjoyed our time at University. We’re very goal-driven, so we were very hard workers in our respective courses. We both found the lecturers were very supportive of our attitude and went the extra mile to help us.

“I’ve still got a great relationship with the lecturers in the Faculty of Business and Law. Since I’ve started my own business they’ve been very supportive, throwing the odd lead or PR opportunity my way. They even invited me back to present to the current Marketing students at their annual Marketing Mashup event earlier this year.”

Kabo Creative started trading in November 2017 and has already secured some big early client wins – and Penni feels the future is bright, saying: “We are so proud of Kabo Creative as it continues to grow – we’re keen to make sure it meets our values and contributes in a meaningful way. We also do not want to chain employees in to the 9-5 existence, so we’ve no plans to set up big offices full of marketing account managers. Other than that, we’re quite open, it’s only early days.”

For more information on Marketing at University of Northampton, please visit the course page.

For more information on Kabo Creative, please visit their website.