Interview: Bryn Perkins chats with the founder of the Prague Daily Monitor Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.03.2007 10:49:58 (updated on 06.03.2007) Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Tascita Gibson

As I was waiting outside Coffee Heaven at Palác Flóra to meet with Bryn Perkins, I scanned the crowds looking for who he might be. Seeing as Bryn Perkins is a well-known businessman and entrepreneur here in Prague, when I caught a glimpse of someone in a suit and tie I would wonder if it was him. But in the end I was approached by a smiling thirty-something in red sneakers, comfortable pants, and a casual, sporty jacket. He had a tiny dog with him. The whole affect was more of a relaxed university student then successful entrepreneur. And my initial impression of someone at ease and comfortable in any situation continued throughout the interview.

Getting here

Perhaps it is his diverse life experience that has created this ease. Bryn was raised in West Los Angeles. He then attended university in Minnesota at Carleton College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Geology. After Minnesota, life took him a bit further north to Anchorage, Alaska. He spent several years in Alaska working as a brewer.

How does one go from Anchorage, Alaska, to Prague, Czech Republic? In 2000, Bryn began a trip around the globe. He traveled across the US and had been in Europe for a few months, staying a couple weeks in each city he toured, before arriving in Prague to meet up with some friends. But when he got to Prague, something made him stop. I asked what it was about Prague that made him stay. “I guess I hadn’t considered the possibility before Prague. And I was in Prague when I realized I could stay in one place. So there must have been something about the city. I was comfortable here.”

That’s business

Soon after arriving, together with several friends, Bryn opened his first business. It was a coffee house and an English-language bookstore called Shakespeare and Sons. The business was a success, and is still a well known hangout for expats and Czechs alike. But after about a year and a half, Bryn saw another opportunity for himself. He sold his share of Shakespeare and Sons and began to fully concentrate on his second attempt at entrepreneurship, The Prague Daily Monitor.

The Prague Daily Monitor ( is a free email service sent to approximately 3,500 recipients every day. The Monitor connects English speakers with what is happening in the Czech Republic. Each day’s email is full of up-to-date information about issues and news affecting the Czech Republic in English. This is a resource that allows expats living in the Czech Republic to be more connected to the community and have a deeper knowledge of the country around them.

The Monitor has recently changed its format and is offering a broader range of services. Bryn assures readers that everything that has always been free will remain free. But for those who want more, there is now the opportunity to become a subscriber. Having a MonitorPlus subscription to the Prague Daily Monitor gives readers access to a daily Czech press review, full translations of Czech news media texts and original writings from Monitor staff. “All this for less than 10 CZK an issue,” as Bryn enthusiastically points out. A MonitorPlus annual subscription costs CZK 2,500 for a single person (including VAT). Corporate subscriptions for businesses are also available.  He sees this as “a good investment if you want to make the most of your time here in Prague.”

Out of The Prague Daily Monitor grew Monitor CE. The Monitor CE provides a broad range of media services to businesses in Central Europe,  such as web site conversion and translation, customized newsletter publishing and text translation, editing and copy writing. So, with all these businesses and ideas, does Bryn see himself as an entrepreneur? “A few years ago I was hesitant about the word. But yes, now I would call myself an entrepreneur.” Bryn says he is trying to “take off the other hats” and focus on his business because it is hard to do too many things at one time. He said he respects journalism but he is not a journalist. He leaves that side of the business to editor Theodore Schwinke.

What have been some of the challenges of being a businessperson in the Czech Republic? Bryn says he cannot compare his experience in the Czech Republic with anywhere else, as this is his only experience with opening a business. But he believes the challenges here are the normal challenges faced by any new businessperson. It is normal to underestimate or overestimate the needs and resources of a new project. Language and bureaucracy can sometimes be complications, however these are not the primary challenges.

Living it up

Life in LA and in Alaska is quite different than life in Prague. Bryn noted there was some cultural adjustment but he feels his biggest adjustment to life in the Czech Republic was the language.  “I had studied some Spanish at university but this was the first time I was surrounded by a foreign language.” He dived into studying Czech and is grateful now for his language ability.

Most Czech learners feel frustrated. I asked for his advice on learning Czech. “Get involved. So much is automatically wrapped up in speaking a language: making friends, easing the stress of bureaucracy, making roots in the community, etc. Practice! Put yourself in places where people are speaking Czech and where you have to speak also. Find a club, sport, hobby, anyplace where people are speaking Czech.” Bryn coaches a Czech ultimate Frisbee team. This team has been one of the best opportunities to exercise his linguistic pursuits. And judging from the ease with which he ordered his decaf-coffee, I think all those Czech lessons have paid off.

So, learning the language is a must. What else would Bryn recommend as a “must-do” here in Prague? “Wander and explore. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before. Being open is more important than any castle.”

It’s obvious from our conversation, and from Bryn’s life, that he is a firm believer in experience. He has faced challenges in different geographical locations, working environments, and cultures. The past six years in Prague have brought many interesting experiences his way. Is he ready for another six years in this city? “I have no plans to go anywhere,” he replies with a smile.

*Bryn Perkins at the Prague Daily Monitor re-launch party (photo courtesy Prague Leaders Magazine)

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