We were sitting at the crowded cafe enjoying our hot beverages when a man came up and shoved a newspaper in my face, covering the table.
I glared at him and immediately shot my hand under the paper wiping our phones and wallets off of the table and onto my lap. Intentionally speaking loud enough to draw everyone’s attention to the thief, I snapped at him (in Spanish) “we don’t want it!” Having ruined his plan, he glared at me and slithered out of the coffee shop.
The cute German man sitting across the table, stared at me simultaneously stunned and intrigued. “What just happened?”
“They were trying to rob us”. I answered as I watched the thieves walk down the street.
“They? There was just one man….”
I proceeded to explain to the new arrival, how I’d watched the thief and his partner split off at the entrance to the cafe. The tall, chubby one walked in and headed straight to our table, while the skinny (and probably faster) one poised himself on the street corner facing the entrance to the nearby subway.
But that’s not how I knew what they were up to. Let’s backup a few years to when I had first moved to Italy. During my first year living abroad, I’d had my phone stolen 11 times. Yes eleven. Not familiar with the concept of gypsies, I was their perfect target.
It took me a few months to learn how to spot a gypsy, where to sit in a restaurant to secure the best vantage point, how to wear a double coat so that my outside pockets were always empty AND how to protect my belongings if I was ever the target of one of their scams.
I didn’t learn about all of their games the hard way, every one of my expat friends had at least half a dozen stories of their own.
By the time I’d arrived in Spain, three years later, gypsy-proofing my life was second nature.
90% of startups fail, not because the founder is poor or lazy or unintelligent, BUT because the founder is new to the startup world and doesn’t know what the common pitfalls and thieves look like, so they don’t know how to prepare and protect themselves from the common traps and schemes.
After a bad experience where two “startup gypsies” attempted to target me this past July, I decided that enough was enough. I created a Udemy course using just my iPad & iMovie to walk aspiring entrepreneurs through what I call “gypsy-proofing your startup”. Since I cannot always be there to watch your back, the second best thing I could come up with, was telling you my own war stories so you can know what to look for.
#feelLoved & click here