East Anglian app entrepreneur Sam Barker teaches us a new word: Tsundoku - are you one?
PUBLISHED: 16:28 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 08 October 2018
Sam Barker is a Suffolk based entrepreneur, who helped launch Sliide, a Mobile Technology start-up in 2013, with two friends Corbyn Munnik (CEO) and Frankie Kearney (COO), straight from University. Last year, Sliide won “Most Innovative App in the World” at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which is dubbed the ‘Oscars of Mobile’. He spoke to Gina Long, who also happens to be his mother.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
It’s home! I was born at Ipswich Hospital, exactly 30 years ago today. When I was about 10 years old, I abseiled down the side of the main building for charity and it felt like we started up above the clouds, so I’m always slightly disappointed that it looks so much smaller now.
What is your East Anglian Heaven ie what do you love most about East Anglia?
The beaches - there are so many and they’re all so unique in Suffolk and Norfolk. Whilst walking through the fields to get to Covehithe beach on Easter Sunday, we bumped into a procession of about 100 vintage tractors owners driving for charity, with their friends and family, who sat on sofas and armchairs in the trailers! It was hilarious - only in East Anglia.
What is your East Anglian Hell ie what do you hate most about living here?
There’s not much to moan about, but my favourite food is Sushi and it’s almost impossible to find resturants outside of Cambridge.
What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
There are so many fantastic pubs but the best food for me comes from Maison Bleue. The owners Pascal and Karine are incredible, with such passion and attention to detail, you always feel spoiled to visit on a special occasion.
What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
I have a 1974 VW Campervan. I love pootling off to the coast, waking up to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore, seeing the sparkling morning sun dancing on the water. I went on a road trip to Dunwich with a friend two weeks ago. The sea was still warm from the summer heatwave.
What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
When the 5 grey silos of the Sugar Beet Factory in Bury St Edmunds appear on the horizon over the A14, I feel instantly relaxed as I know I’m nearly home. I’ve got a great vinyl called ‘This Is The Sound Of Sugar Town’ which I picked up from Vinyl Hunter in Bury and it has a painting of the factory on the album cover which I love.
What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
Summer! Especially all the festivals - Latitude, Red Rooster, and Houghton...
What your specialist Mastermind subject?
I always thought the fashion designer Alexander McQueen was a living genius and after seeing his retrospective at the V&A (which was mind-blowing) I think I watched every single documentary about him on YouTube, so I’d probably have to say his career. His fashion shows were so radical and ahead of their time - fusing technology, art and politics.
What is always in your fridge?
Sparkling water and a watermelon when they’re available. Both taste better with a squeeze of lime juice!
What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Mr Todd, a hugely influential teacher of mine at Farlingaye High School, once said, “Time escapes us at a constant rate” and that’s been the screensaver in my mind ever since.
What’s your favourite film?
Empire Records, which is an 80s movie that my babysister showed my sister and me, when we were far too young to understand anything going on in it but we still thought it was the coolest movie ever.
What was your first job?
I worked as a pot wash, in the White Lion in Ufford, before graduating to the job of waiter at The Galley restaurant in Woodbridge for the wonderful Urgh Vata who has such a wonderful personality and taught me so much.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’ve always loved the simple black and white Swatch watches. I was recently given a beautiful watch by my father which belonged to my grandfather and it makes me think of him every morning when I put it on.
Who do you admire most?
Without a doubt my little sister. She is the light of my life and is the coolest, most compassionate person I know. She had a big health scare at 23 and was forced to put her whole life on hold but remained resolutely positive throughout the whole process and was such an inspiration. I’m so happy to report that she’s now completely healthy and about to open a new cafe called FOLK just outside of Bury, serving delicious local fare. I think it will quickly become my favourite spot for coffee!
What is your biggest indulgence?
Books and vinyl! I can’t stop buying books and have piles of them around the house. I do read most of them. A friend taught me a beautiful Japanese word recently - Tsundoku! Look it up.
What do you like about yourself most?
My excitement for new projects. I’ve been so fortunate to meet and work with so many amazing creatives & entrepreneurs from East Anglia and beyond.
What’s your worst character trait?
My excitement for new projects! I’m sure it will be the death of me.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
The Scottish Highlands - especially the islands. The wild beauty is the best in the world!
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I’ve got a recipe called Sunday Eggs which is Greek and consists of eggs baked with tomato, feta, spring onions, peppers and chilli. I ordered it at a small restaurant in London about six years ago and have been trying to recreate it ever since.
What’s your favourite tipple?
Mezcal, which is technically a tequila but tastes like a whisky. They say it doesn’t give you a hangover but my ‘research’ suggests otherwise.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
It would have to be Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. Growing up, I never really understood why it was such an iconic song, but then one day it hit me and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. There’s a wistfulness to the lyrics which are so tragic but so beautiful.
Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I’m really passionate about campaigning for better Mental Health awareness, and I’m so pleased that it’s been covered so widely in the mainstream media now. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II after it became really pronounced in my early 20s but struggled to access information for a long time. Now there are so many brilliant access points at all levels. If anyone is struggling in silence, I urge you to seek out someone to talk to - you are not alone and in my experience, it really helps.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
A hairdresser, who shall remain nameless, once said “oooops” when they started cutting my hair. Not exactly reassuring.
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
East Anglia still feels like a hidden corner of the UK and there are so many wonderful people, personalities and places here, I don’t think you could ever be bored living here.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
Wyken Farmers Market every Saturday morning! See you there.