Startup eSeries: Travel Startups That Will Take You on Adventures - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Startup eSeries: Travel Startups That Will Take You on Adventures

May 09, 2015


I just came back from a tiny drop of an island in the Maldives after a week of sun, sand and scuba diving.

If you have been reading my letters for a while you will know by now that I love to travel, and I go to places far and wide looking for things I have never seen before. On this trip I met my first manta rays... extraordinary peaceful winged creatures about 3- 4 metres wide circling around me deep inside the Indian Ocean.

Every time I travel, I am looking for something new. A new creature I have never seen, an activity I have never tried, a food I have never tasted or a culture I haven't yet explored. I like to say I'm collecting experiences.

But you don't need to leave home to have an adventure or a new experience. In fact, one new thing you can experience from home is starting a business.

Starting a business is also an adventure... like standing at the edge of a cliff, looking at a valley below, and hoping that if you take a running start and a big leap you will end up soaring instead of falling.

To explore the confluence of the adventure of travel and the adventure of starting a business, we caught up with two innovative new travel startups who are bringing these experiences to our fingertips through their travel websites.

Alien Adventures and Eventraveler help you tailor-make experience-based travel itineraries, giving you the resources you need to travel to locations off the usual routes. No longer is the hackneyed old Singapore-Bangkok-Hongkong route your only option. The world is now available to you on a platter, or rather, on a website, from trekking in the Himalayas to spot snow leopards, to traveling with football addicts to the World Cup... from skiing vacations in lesser known slopes of the French Alps to climbing volcanos in Indonesia.

Jumping off a cliff...

The thing about taking a risk is that after you take the first leap you know the second time will become much easier. And the third jump easier still. Soon even if you break a leg every once in a while the risk-taker in you doesn't die down. The best way to increase your risk appetite: take more risks.

And that's exactly what three bankers learned when they went paragliding. And scuba diving. And trekking in the Himalayas.

They found that they loved adventure and travel. But every time they were planning an adventure they saw a lack of information on good and reliable adventure travel operators.

Go ahead, it could be amazing!
Source: Alien Adventure
They saw an opportunity - a chance to fill a gap, give the world something that was missing, start something they believed in, and do something they loved.

So they left their cushy jobs, and leapt off a cliff.

That's how Alien Adventures came about, an online platform bringing together the best resources for adventure travel. The user-friendly website is replete with beautiful images, a helpful blog on travel experiences, and the best travel guides and operators around the world.

If you have a dream, an idea, a vision for your life that you have kept at a distance, find the adventure within you and leap into the abyss like these adventurers did, and...

Build your dream...

As Tony Gaskins famously said, 'If you don't build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs.' Our travel entrepreneurs wanted to build their dreams. They left their high-paying bank and finance jobs to do just that.

Navin Sharma's online adventure, Eventraveler, has a similar story. Navin Sharma had worked for other companies in the past including global biggies like Philips as well as smaller ones like Pioneer, the boutique investment bank where he was a senior professional before he quit his job.

'The thought of envisioning an idea and bringing it to fruition was a compelling enough motivation to quit and go whole hog for the idea,' he said. 'After all it is not every day that you get feasible opportunity to work on something that you're passionate about!'

It was scary, of course.

'Scary, exciting and exhilarating. All at the same time. It was exciting because it gave us a sense of purpose, scary because we couldn't see the exact path (plus all the trappings of a regular salary). But we knew that we had to be fully dedicated to this,' says Kshaunish Jaini, one of the founders of Alien Adventures.

So they went all in.

Bootstrapping is fun...

Navin worked part-time on Eventraveler for several months before taking the decision to take the full-time plunge. He felt a powerful need to get the idea off the drawing board and have it out and running. 'I thought my idea was original enough, and to that extent the window of opportunity to realize it was very limited.'

Both startups were bootstrapped, which means that the founders pooled their money and kept costs to a minimum, stretching their resources as far as they could go. Getting friends and family to help with developing the site, writing for the blog and using freely available online images where they could ensured that their ventures didn't turn into money pits.

They also did as much research as they could on the internet, writing thousands of emails to guides and travel operators around the world, and spending hours on Skype calls with them to verify them and answer their questions.

Now that they are on their way, they are beginning to move on from bootstrapping to showcase their potential and raise real capital. But bootstrapping is a great way for all businesses, whatever stage they may be in, to make the most of their resources.

And get ready for adventure...

'Most people are not adventurous. If adventures beckons you, book your tickets and go for the ride. There will always be nay-sayers in your life. They don't know what they are missing. The moments spent in uncertainty are what life is about. Go alone if you have to. Be warned though - adventure is addictive. It may change your life. It certainly did ours.' - Kshaunish Jaini.

So set off on an adventure, whether in the wilderness of nature or that of the entrepreneurial jungle... give in to your need for new experiences and take that leap. Mark Twain believes travel will open your mind. I believe that any adventure, including that of venturing into your own venture, will do the same.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Lessons from Alien Adventures

  • Determination is everything. You can have incredible luck, but only determination will help one in the long run.

  • Give the customers an amazing experience. The rest will follow through, because they will keep coming back for more. .

  • Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. The hours will be extremely long, and time will always be precious, but the end result will also be so much more rewarding.

  • Recognize opportunity, because she knocks softly.

  • Also, read Paul Graham and always be ready for your next big Adventure.


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3 Responses to "Startup eSeries: Travel Startups That Will Take You on Adventures"


12 May, 2015

I have always enjoyed your articles. This particular one has touched a special cord and I thought of complementing you on the simplicity and yet touching style with which you write.

Like (1)


11 May, 2015

hey Anisa, Loved this article, I read all most all your articles. Loved this one too, worth reading... We need to pull up our own socks :)

Tarachand Chheda

10 May, 2015

I am regular reader (so far) of your inspiring articles. This one seemed to be awakening the adventurer in my soul. I am also inspired to take a big lap in my decision of new business. Regards Tarachand

Like (2)

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