Alex was in Ecuador marketing an ecotourism project when he realised that there was no low cost marketing portal for small, local and ethical businesses. Most online marketing portals charged huge amounts for advertising, which small family-run businesses just couldn't afford - hence the need for Much Better Adventures.
Our travel ambassador program gives people a way to earn a bit of extra cash on the road.
Running a social enterprise adventure travel website calledhttp://www.muchbetteradventures.com/" title=""> Much Better Adventures.
Spending a lot of my time at the moment building partnerships, planning PR and marketing campaigns, writing news articles and blogs, working with web designers on new ideas, keeping an eye on the money and managing the rest of the team who are researching destinations, vetting local accommodation and activity providers, providing sustainability consultancies, and hunting out ambassadors - travellers and locals who can help us create guides to other destinations.
Plenty for a days work!
I was working in the travel industry for various major agencies and tour operators - mainly in sales. That was from university through to last year - 5 years or so.
Working hard for someone else always seemed strange to me, especially when I didn't really like a lot of what I was selling. I knew there were ways people could have a better travel experience - if only they would think outside the box a bit, and I could pluck up the courage to go on my own...
I spent a bit of time out volunteering for a small conservation organisation in Ecuador. We were helping set up, run and market trips to a jungle community, so they had an alternative to selling their land to (very persistent) logging groups. We were in a remote area so it was really hard to get tourists in.
Even though it was an incredible travel experience so many people would love to know about, it was really difficult and expensive to spread the word. Tour operators were only interested in going to more mainstream places too, so in the end the project started to fail and the land was eventually bought and logged.
I was so depressed and angry about it that in the end I decided I had to go and build a solution so this wouldn't happen again.
I was lucky enough to convince a friend to join me, and we actually started off by putting our own savings into it. We agreed that I would quit work and live off savings, and he would continue working and divert money into the project.
We wanted the site to be accessible to the kind of tiny operators that can't normally afford commissions and annual memberships, so we knew that we were making life really hard for ourselves from the start. So we had to be careful to plan ahead, and be sure we had enough other revenue streams open to make it work in the long run. We are getting there!
I'm living on one big adrenaline rush, and a huge learning curve. Every day is a step into the unknown, and I do love the excitement and nerves that come with that. It is fair to say it can be stressful, and I have a lot less time to myself than I would like.
That said, when you get emails from people thanking you one hundred times for what you are doing, nothing else matters.
Make a time frame for your key aims. Then double it. Then double it again and work off that.
I was told this and didn't believe it. Guess what? We are about where we would be had I doubled and then doubled my original time plan! And we would be a lot more relaxed about it all too!
http://www.socialenterpriseworks.org/" title="">Social Enterprise Works were also great for helping with business development and planning.
Don't forget the http://www.bl.uk/bipc/" title="">Business Centre at the British Library in London. So many useful resources there!