2007 Shell LiveWIRE Entrepreneur of the Year winners in Telegraph
Race to Ulaanbaatar: adventures with a difference
It sounds like a bad idea for a business. Organise for 350 Fiat Pandas, Nissan Micras, old-style Minis and other sub-1,000cc wrecks to gather at Goodwood motor circuit this Saturday and then race them to Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, in whatever fashion the teams fancy.
But that is exactly what is at the heart of The Adventurists, a Bristol-based "experience" company that chomps those charity-funded "challenges" to the Great Wall of China, chews them up a bit and then spits them out in an anarchic, anything goes kind of way.
The Adventurists give people with time on their hands the excuse to live a rather less sanitised version of the life they are used to. But at £650 per team just to sign up and then living costs for four to five weeks, charity fundraising and the not insignificant cost of buying a vehicle that will hopefully transport you the 10,000 miles, it is not a budget break. Three years after its formal launch and two after being awarded a £10,000 Young Entrepreneur of the Year accolade by Shell LiveWIRE, the start-up advice organisation, The Adventurists should surely be running out of fuel in these tough times.
Tom Morgan, a 29-year-old fine art graduate and the company's founder, tells me that is not so. He is turning away nine in every 10 people who want to take part in the five adventures they now have up and running. "We are uncredit crunched," he jokes.
The vast majority of those who take part are just looking for something "a bit different". Morgan attempted his first trip to Mongolia in a Fiat 126 in 2001 (he didn't make it).
The Adventurists has expanded to a team of 15 people, and Morgan says he hopes the company will break even this year. "We have been growing at a pace that we can hardly control," he says. Some 4,000 adventurists will have gone through their books by the end of this year. They now organise trips "for people that are slightly mad" from London to Cameroon; across India on rickshaws; between Peru and Paraguay by motorbike taxi and across Mongolia on horseback. Marketing has been largely word of mouth. "Being arrested in Kazakhstan makes for good pub stories," admits Morgan.
Not bad for someone who describes himself as "unemployable". "I had sworn never to get a proper job." And now he's almost got a proper business.
The Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition is now open for entries. For more information, or to enter, click:www.shell-livewire.org/news/award2009
Source: Richard Tyler, www.telegraph.co.uk
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