Usman's start-up story - Bringing an adventurous idea into existence
Before Tri-Pakistan and enrolling onto the Startup Accelerator at Escape the City, I had recently graduated and was working as a marketing assistant in a technology company. I had a thirst for adventure and was looking to find a way to combine a passion for sports, travel, and business and invest my time in something I could be proud of and shout out to the world about.
Having studied sociology and communications, over the years I had developed an interest in learning about different cultures. Combining that with a life-long passion for the outdoors and a newly realised appetite for all things swimming, cycling and running, Tri-Pakistan was a no-brainer when it came to choosing to spend my next year either working my way up in technology or developing a business. I chose the latter.
Jonny Miller at Escape the City really pushed me to bring my idea to existence by just sharing it with others. Literally just saying it out loud. And eventually, you talk it into existence. After pouring over Google Maps for months on end, I took the decision to pack up everything in London and temporarily move my life to Pakistan and go explore these places in real life.
Over the last decade, there was an uptick in domestic tourism, and it was the right opportunity at the right time to indulge and gain knowledge of the growing industry and leave my mark on it. And thus, began my journey to the Himalayas and the Karakorum to explore the best possible location for a triathlon. Having no connections, no cultural knowledge, my best tool was my curiosity. It opened so many doors for me and I just soaked up everything I could about Gilgit-Baltistan, my home for the next year.
There were tons of moments, both happy and sad, that I look back upon with fondness, as I realise what was achieved this year and what I learned over the past three years pursuing this dream. The fact that everyone I spoke to was open about genuinely helping me out in any manner possible for them.
At the event, it was so surreal watching the whole team unite and work together to bring this idea to life, each of them owned the fact they were part of something larger themselves, that gave me immense pride.
The journey has had its ups and down, from two years of not being able to convince anyone to take a chance on the triathlon and taking a bus back to Islamabad all alone, watching the mountains disappear and having to come back again the year after to start all over again, having the right people around me in those moments was great to have their support and constant motivation.
After three years of trial and error, and a successful year of hosting the triathlon, we are formalising our processes and developing further partnerships with local organisations and government institutions to scale the event and truly open up the sport to others. There are slight course changes that we are navigating, preparing our marketing campaigns and looking to grow the team, with two new members already onboard. We have a documentary coming out by the end of the year too!
For anyone considering taking a chance on their wild dreams, just say it. If you say it enough, it will exist.
Consider my top tips to help you on your journey:
- Start believing in the idea
- Say it out loud to strangers
- Get enough strangers to believe in the idea and its possibility
- Understand where your ideal customer would be? Join the communities they would be part of (digital/physical)
- Experiment and make mistakes
- Build a plan of action
- Execute and do not think about the consequences
- Always be curious about the unexpected – the unexpected things are what will eventually turn your idea into a reality
- Be patient
Want to launch a business alongside likeminded escapees & mentors? Find out more about the Escape The City 12-week part-time Startup Accelerator programme.
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