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Adventure tour startup with a philanthropic twist

AdventureHoney is not only about tying travel and philanthropy together under one roof, but also about making every overseas trip an experience to remember. Launched last year, the social startup allows travelers to book adventure tours with local operators around the world; and 25 percent of net profits are invested into the Changemaker Program to empower local entrepreneurs with social business ideas.

According to Chris Ball, Founder and CEO of AdventureHoney, the inspiration for the startup was two-fold. He says that in the western world, consumers are becoming more and more conscious about what they’re spending their hard-earned cash on. They’re “recognising the fact that the material trip is a shallow high. It’s like a sugar hit.”

“You buy a new iPhone or a new hand bag and you feel awesome that day, maybe that week. But, like the high of eating a handful of lollies, it wears off. Experience on the other hand gather in your soul and enrich your life. AdventureHoney makes it easy to find and book experiences when you travel.”

From a business perspective, Ball says that, having traveled to more than 60 countries, he noticed that finding interesting things to do was painful.

“There are tens of thousands of phenomenal local operators, but they’re invisible online. AdventureHoney gives them visibility,” he says.

What’s interesting about AdventureHoney is that it relies on user-generated content. Users share their experiences on the site, and AdventureHoney then makes it possible for other travelers to book the same experience with a local operator.

“Travelers have sites such as Skyscanner to book flights and Wotif to book accommodation but where do they go to find authentic, cool things to do when they arrive there? AdventureHoney fills that gap,” Ball says.

At the moment, AdventureHoney is focusing on short adventure tours and activities in Asia – although this year, they plan on expanding their horizons to include Latin America and Africa.

Since speaking to Shoe String last year, Ball says they’ve hit quite a few milestones. They’ve had booking from every Western country, and was surprised to see bookings come in from countries that haven’t been targeted in their marketing efforts thus far.

“From China and Dubai to Finland and India – it always provides a buzz when people book and find incredible experiences through AdventureHoney,” says Ball.

They’ve also entered into partnerships with the Thai and Filipino tourism boards – which generated great results for both parties.

One of the biggest challenges for the AdventureHoney team has been distribution. Ball says it’s hard to stand out in a noisy world. The other challenge is one that has been echoed by many startup founders – bootstrapping.

“To bootstrap a B2C online marketplace is very challenging. I’m not sure it’s possible to create an online business that scales and can really change the world without raising capital. That’s where we’re at now,” he says.

“The question is, what do we want AdventureHoney to be? A lifestyle business, that grows organically but never exponentially. Or do we want to raise money, grow our team and market to really try and shake up the way people around the world book tours and activities when they travel?”

When asked why social entrepreneurship is so important today, Ball says “there’s growing awareness among consumers for the profound issues we as humans face – from extreme poverty to disharmony with our environment.”

“Our system is consumer driven. If consumers demand it – as in they put a value on any product or service’s social impact and vote with their wallet – then entrepreneurs and the market will respond. Capitalism is pretty awesome when leveraged responsibly.”

As the AdventureHoney team figures out its next move, Ball offers a final note: Experience should be prioritised over material goods. He says, “Every person we help explore this concept is a win for us.”

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