Lost and Founded Series - Ashwin Subramaniam

Ashwin Subramaniam, Co-founder of Gone Adventurin', believes in creating collaborations for a more compassionate world.


Ashwin Subramaniam, Co-founder of Gone Adventurin', - a collective that bridge companies, communities and consumers to tackle important social and environmental challenges - cares deeply about the future of our planet. Believing in creating collaborations for a more compassionate world, Ashwin gave up a lucrative career in the banking industry because he felt that so much more could be done for society. Asserting that “attitude is more important than facts,” Ashwin adopts a growth mindset, does great work with many incredible people and no longer lives in fear of failure or the unknown.

People say you are "Ashwin, Co-founder of Gone Adventurin'". Who do you say you are?                                               

I am someone who deeply cares about the future our planet. I work hard at bringing together like-minded people to work collaboratively for a more compassionate world.

Best moment in your startup life. It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.

When one of our projects raised $2.5m in funds for a medical charity in Papua New Guinea - enough funds to enable the charity to buy a brand new medical ship that would more than double its impact on healthcare in the country.

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?

The biggest secret I kept, was that, although I loved my time at the bank (as I got involved in several social responsibility projects and had wonderful colleagues) I always felt there is so much more that could be done. I had worked hard to get to where I was, so I didn’t tell anyone that really I thought there was more I could do to get employees, consumers and corporates more deeply involved in sustainability. 

I didn’t tell anyone how unhappy I was in, until I met Jacqui through our mutual friend Veronica in 2010 and we did couple of pro-bono corporate projects. These projects brought together our passions for storytelling and on-ground engagement with local communities to drive social impact in Southeast Asia. When more corporates began approaching us with work we realised we had hit upon a social enterprise model! That's when left my job at the bank because I felt I could use my skills to create more hands-on social or environmental impact by running a social business.

What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they wouldn't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

I am an amateur geologist and like to collect rocks wherever I go. I go finding rocks in the midst of a project.

Have you ever cried? Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life. You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your startup career of course) Tell us more!

The lowest point for me was just after one of our most successful projects. Everything had gone perfectly, but immediately afterwards I began to have doubts "What if I am not able to repeat this again?", "What if our next project doesn't go as well...” “What if I fail….” etc.

After talking to couple of friends I realised that it’s all about mindset. I began to take a growth mindset approach - that its ok to fail in some areas as long as I learn and grow from it. The main focus should be doing great work and working with incredible people.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

Planning 3-year projects for Gone Adventurin' and coaching our newer team members. My puppy gets me up every morning.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

I swim and cycle most mornings. One of my co-founders recently recommended to me Headspace - a guided meditation app. It has been great in teaching me how to stay present.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Work like hell for the first 2 years. Then try to get 8-9 hours of sleep daily otherwise you will burn out pretty quickly.

Movie or song that best describes you.

October Sky - beautiful story of an underdog kid who finds himself with the help of his friends and family.

Favourite quote.

Attitude is more important than facts.

Who and what inspires you?

Buddha - he has a knack of always being happy.

Tell me about Ashwin in 2030.

Doing exactly what I am doing now i.e. creating collaborations for a more compassionate world. Hopefully we'd have made a great headway by then!

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