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London is where they work, but Marbella is where this journey started for two unusual young men. Who are they? And what is My Destination?
Not to mention the mysterious man who welcomes visitors to the front door of their offices.
“I think travel is something that everyone should experience, sort of grows you as a person, it’s one of those investments you never lose, you never lose memories. So that’s what we’re trying to do with My Destination, to inspire people to go and travel, see new destinations. You might come on our site and perhaps see somewhere you’d never think of going… Romania, or Alberta, in Canada, or watch a video or see some great businesses and think, yeah I can spend my next holiday there, let’s try that,” says My Destination co-founder James Street.
“We were able to do that because we have local people in each of our destinations, so I think that really helps us as a travel guide. I mean, we were born out of this internet era, not of the Lonely Planet days, when you’d send a writer there to update a guidebook once every year or two years. We live in an era where people want the information live, they want it up to date, they want it current, and we can really serve that up to our users”.
James and Neil Waller met at a business course at Bath University. What they had in common, and nobody else had, was the entrepreneurship bug, as they call it themselves. So, they went to Marbella together with the idea of starting a business. And that is how it all began.
“This is how we started six years ago,” explains Neil. “ For us all good decisions have come after a pint or two. Let’s just have a good conversation in the pub without trying to think too much about some of the constraints, so…”
“It’s how the franchising model came about in the first place,” picks up James.
“Where was that? I think it was on the beach in Marbella after a Margarita,” smiles Neil.
“We started with 600 pounds, literally just a laptop, trying to put a web site together, then we first expanded to a few destinations in Europe and when we started off employing someone in another destination, that didn’t work. And that’s when we came up with the franchise model. What did we do? First year three, then 12…”
“Yeah… 24”, jumps in James.
“40… Now we’re up to 125 in 58 countries,” says Neil, “So, it’s a big old team now, but from what we started, just 600 pounds, now it’s 2 million in turnover, and we hope to get to 5 million next year”.
With a team of 250 people, 30 of them in their headquarters, with at least one of them still quite weird, James and Neil surely have some tips for people their age.
“Everyone nowadays is finding it tough to get jobs. And all these people going to university and getting good degrees, they still find it difficult to get jobs. So, you’re in such a good position when you’re young, because you don’t have people relying upon you for income. And having the ability to take a risk is a big element of it as well. And I think that, even if you’re young and trying and failing, that’s also something that puts experience on your C.V,” advises Neil.
And here comes our mysterious hero at last: his name is Norman, and you’ll learn more of him and his adventures on http://www.mydestination.com
But it is now time for this adventure and this journey to end. New adventures, and new destinations, await you.