Travel Startup - Interview with the Founder of Gadabouting
- 1. Did you spend a year abroad during your degree?
- 2. How did your language skills, intercultural skills or experiences abroad enable or inspire you to set up your company?
- 3. Please describe your business
- 4. Describe your light bulb moment
- 5. Did you receive any business support from your university before, during or after you set up your business?
- 6. What do you wish you had known before you started up?
- 7. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
- 8. Do you have any further comments about the year abroad and entrepreneurship?
Dominic has a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester (2011), and is the Founder and Creative Director of Gadabouting which he started in January 2012.
1. Did you spend a year abroad during your degree?
I didn't actually, even though there was the option to, because I wanted to get through university as fast as possible and start a career! I did however backpack for 5 weeks in India with friends in the summer after first year, and for two and a half weeks in Japan in the summer after second year (after a ten week internship).
2. How did your language skills, intercultural skills or experiences abroad enable or inspire you to set up your company?
I always wanted to be a banker, having grown up in an affluent part of South London where there were lots of young guys making fantastic money in the City, and the A Levels and degree I did were always meant to prepare me for such a career. I interned at UBS in the summer of 2010 (the summer after my second year at university) and I hated every second - it was not stimulating at all, I was bored out of my mind, couldn't stand the people and the culture but, worst of all, I just didn't feel I was creating anything valuable there.
At around the same time, I was broadening my horizons through travel. The summer before the internship, I'd spent five weeks with friends backpacking all around India. I'd never experienced such freedom before and I distinctly remember suddenly realising (during a pit-stop on an 18-hour bus ride between two towns in the Himalayas!) that life didn't have to be linear at all! Instead, it was a huge canvas of unlimited potential and possibilities that was really only restricted by your own state of mind. This changed my whole outlook on life completely, and once I knew I couldn't face a career in banking this was all I needed to inspire me to set up my company. Even if my company wasn't in the travel sector, it was more the whole philosophy of personal freedom that really motivated me to just go for it.
3. Please describe your business
Gadabouting is a luxury travel website focused on beautiful photography, stunning video, captivating storytelling and enthralling events to inspire travellers to try new things and to travel to new places. Users can create a 'scrapbook' to collect their favourite items, and we help them get in touch with specialist travel agencies who have the expertise to turn their dream trip into reality!
It's unique in that Gadabouting focuses less on the actual selling of travel experiences and more on the value of conversational and content marketing which, in this age of social media and short attention spans, is rapidly being realised to be a very powerful marketing tactic. We want to make travel inspiration and planning a beautiful and enchanting experience by moving away from the hard sell, and we think this is a really unique selling point (USP). We are targeting working professionals who are aged 35-54 and are time-poor but cash-rich.
What is the value of languages and intercultural skills for your business? It's hard to comment on this as I'm yet to build solid relationships with clients as we haven't launched, but I'd venture that I'd be more likely to hire someone who has travelled widely, as they tend to be freer and more innovative in their thinking than someone who hasn't.
4. Describe your light bulb moment
I know every entrepreneur is supposed to have had their eureka moment as it sounds sexier, but Gadabouting was really an evolution of a few concepts and trends being tied together over a period of a few months. I spent a lot of time reading industry reports and thinking about the concept - it's so important to dedicate an hour a day to being on your own, running through the ideas in your head with a pencil and paper to hand, and playing around with the ideas to see what comes of them.
5. Did you receive any business support from your university before, during or after you set up your business?
I only started thinking about entrepreneurship as a viable career option towards the end of university, so I never managed to get involved with the relevant societies and networks (although I was on the board of the Trading and Investment Society and there was a lot of overlap between that and the entrepreneurial societies). After university, I actually found more support from Manchester Metropolitan University who offered me space in their incubator, Innospace, for £50 per month, which was incredibly helpful and introduced me to some brilliant minds.
6. What do you wish you had known before you started up?
How long things tend to take (clue: three times longer than you think!). Also, don't skimp on web developers and designers - they are worth their weight in gold if you find a good one, so ask around and shop around as they can really give you the edge.
7. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Read, read and read some more! Read all the technology blogs like TechCrunch, GigaOM and The Next Web, read all the design blogs, keep up to date with business and politics and make sure you're aware of the latest trends in design, marketing, and revenue models. Get on Twitter and follow the opinion formers, and start forming your own opinions. There is such a vast amount of information out there that will shape the way you think, so start soaking it all up!
8. Do you have any further comments about the year abroad and entrepreneurship?
Even if you don't take a year abroad, travel as much as you can and meet as many different people as you can. There's a huge trend towards conformity in society through what you wear, what TV you watch etc. which tends to place you in a bubble. Break out of this and explore.
For Dominic's latest updates, you can follow him on Twitter: @Dom_Eden. To read more interviews and get advice about starting a business to do with languages, travel or culture, download a free copy of the Higher Education Academy's report: 'Languages and Entrepreneurship: a Guide for Students'.