When November comes around in Vancouver, people are either thinking ski season or travelling. This week’s entrepreneurs will be able to help you out with the latter as adventure travel company Beach Travellers tells us about their journey from travellers to travellers and entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
TJ Hermiston: We are the co-founders of Beach Travellers, an adventure travel company for travellers by travellers.
Graeme Barker: We are passionate about living the life we were all meant to live. We were inspired to create Beach Travellers after a trip we took when we were 18 years old. Shortly after we realized there was an opportunity to build off of our own travel experiences and design life changing trips for anyone and everyone who is wants to go on an authentic adventure.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
Graeme: With 50+ trips running annually, we are a team of five full time employees and 20+ guides on location. It takes the right people in the right place to deliver exactly what we set out to do. We want ensure we are guided by the same principles and that is from start to finish our trips are nothing less than the best trip of their lives.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
TJ: We are the solution for travellers who want to experience real cultural diversity in the world without the confines of a normal tour. It’s the perfect in the middle ground, where they can make their trip their own but with the ease of accessibility of a tour.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Beach Travellers?
TJ: To be honest, when we started up our company we were quite insulated in our own world. We didn’t utilize the startup community much with I think at the time because we were out there either driving cross Canada promoting at Universities and working in hotel rooms or overseas running trips. I think that we had a sort of blessed naivety that we didn’t really understand the risks.
Grassroots was our method but now with the pace of change these days it’s become important to have a support network of entrepreneurs to keep each other in the know and to give other angles on problem solving. There’s always more to learn and people to learn from.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
TJ: There’s a saying about being an entrepreneur that you build yourself into a box and most people never can climb out of it. The climb out of that cage was the biggest challenge because if you never get out of that cage then you will never gain the perspective on the business that it takes to be truly successful.
Graeme: I think the biggest challenge for anyone in a new business is to continue to make time for one’s self. An idea catches fire, the lists never stop growing and while you want things to happen overnight, great things take time, and you need to take some of that time for yourself once and awhile. Don’t burn yourself out because you haven’t even gotten started. Take digital detoxes, feed your favorite hobbies (mine is surfing), don’t let them die out. Taking care of yourself, is the best possible way to take care of your business.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
TJ: It’s hard to pinpoint one entrepreneur that has inspired me the most. Raj Taneja is a friend of mine that has helped me wonders over the years. He introduced me to tons of essential entrepreneurial books and articles. He pointed me towards Brian Scudamore from 1-800-GOTJUNK and other entrepreneurs. We used to take our employees to 1-800-GOTJUNK to take a tour of their office. It’s a pretty inspiring place, which inspired our setup. I learned a ton from Raj and he was a mentor to me for a number of years. I still see him when I’m in Bangkok.
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Graeme: Tomorrow is another day.
TJ: I would tell him to calm down and that everything is going to be ok. Sometimes in this fast paced world we get pretty worked up over things and that’s something that I had to get under control.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Graeme: Kind of a curve ball, when I think local influencers the first names that come to mind for me are Steve Thorpe and Mike Macquisten, the guys behind Fresh Tap, Vancouver Urban Winery and Roaring Twenties Wine. These two continue to build on their ideas and their dreams along with the support of their friends and co-workers, it’s always inspiring to hear what they’re working on over there. They’re idea driven, motivated and passionate, which is everything we look for in our team members.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
TJ: A solid morning routine is incredibly important to getting in the right headspace to do your best. “Rockefellar Habits” & “E-myth Revisited” are two great books that we’ve continued to draw ideas from.
Graeme: Read paperbacks, not e-books, and get some recommendations from well read self-employed friends. I usually call up my friend Perry Pugh from KNOWSHOW and ask if he’s read inspiring books lately. Some classics that come to mind are, “Let My People Go Surfing” and “Never Eat Alone”.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
TJ: Read. Also be unique and live out your dreams and not anyone else’s.
Graeme: You can sleep when you’re dead.
*End of interview*
This dynamic duo knows a few things about how to learn from others, draw from their own passions, and make the business of their dreams a reality. The best kinds of startups really are the ones that happen as a result of a gap in the marketplace that someone cares deeply about. Entrepreneurship and travelling are not usually muttered in the same sentence so kudos to TJ and Graeme for making it work.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to paul(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.