By Lori Kimbel
John Kueber’s first attempt at public office, a bid for president of the junior high he had just started attending where he was known mostly as ‘the new kid’, taught him a lot about failure. Kueber lost the election by a landslide. “I didn’t really let it bug me,” he said. “It actually energized me.” It was at that moment he realized failure was a part of life. He also realized the thought of failing did not scare him in the least little bit. This notion helped shape him into the successful businessman he has become.
Kueber was raised in Alberta, Canada, and then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where he rowed for the crew team; an endeavor that gave him insight into a world of business he would soon find himself enveloped in once he graduated.
Fresh out of college he began selling advertising for digital media. It was the tip of the iceberg in what has become a digitally dominated career.
At 27-years-old he raised $400,000 for a business many people were skeptical about, an online hardware store. It worked. Eventually he sold the business for over $3 million to Eagle Hardware Executives.
“I was a happy guy, but I wasn’t really living life. I had become owned by my work and wasn’t really having any real life experiences,” said Kueber.
After living life like a 28-year-old with a million dollars in his pocket, it was time to get serious again. So he put his entrepreneurial hat back on and created Urban Pages, a Seattle based print publication, and eventually expanding into Portland, Oregon. After five years he sold both publications to Tiger Oak Media, also a Seattle based company in the print publication field.
“I finally settled down and started the life I have always wanted,” said Kueber. “I got married and now have twin 8-year-old girls. Raising kids is like the most life-giving thing you could possibly do. I hope they still listen to me when they are 18! If they are, I would tell them to take as many “manageable risks” as they can. By this, I mean if you have an opportunity and the worst thing that can happen is some failure, a hit to your ego, then do it. Between 18 and 25 you have a lot of freedom to make mistakes, and as long as you aren’t breaking the law, they generally pay off in at least experience down the road.”
After almost seven years as the chief operating officer at Tiger Oak Publications, a company that creates Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business, Seattle Bride, Oregon Bride, California Wedding Day, Urban Unveiled, Best Companies, and Seattle Health, Kueber knew he was ready for a change.
“-A year ago I knew it was time to go back to being an entrepreneur. I took some time off and went to Europe.” It was while bicycling in the Pyrenees of France that Kueber realized something was missing in the travel market. The business side of his brain kicked in while he made his way up the winding road he was currently peddling on. What if travelers had a platform where they could tell other travelers what was around the next corner, where the closest beer was, or the nearest place to get a great bite to eat, or the cheapest, or most expensive, place to stay?
Jrrny.com was born. Jrrny is a user-generated online travel magazine, created by travelers for travelers. The goal of jrrny.com is to help travelers flesh out their itinerary before leaving home, and it is a great platform for travelers who want to share about their trip and travel adventures as it is happening.
Travelers, who like to write, can set up their own profile and have their first journey online within minutes, complete with photos and a jrrny-generated map of their journey location.
He came home from his trip to Europe with jrrny.com already created in his mind, although, according to Kueber, Jrrny is never truly “complete”. “We’ll continue to evolve the site to add video, more destinations, and thousands of more user posts. We’ll be launching an app later this year and many more exciting features planned. But for now, we believe we already have one of the best travel content sites anywhere. The community creates the jrrnys, and the community will always benefit from the shared knowledge. We’re in the advertising game for our revenue model. We currently have customers ranging from boutique hotels all the way to Starwood Hotels.
“For an entrepreneur, building a business is always exciting. I actually get chills when I read some of the posts on jrrny.com,” said Kueber. “It’s the idea that we are really bringing the world together with new and inspirational travel ideas. Instead of basing people’s trip decisions around hotels, we’re allowing people to picture the incredible experiences to be had around the world, and giving them the confidence to make that happen using real knowledge from our community. It is actually making the world a better place. It is bringing the world closer, more familiar, and not so intimidating.”