Small Business Spotlight of the Week: EpicThrills Amanda | August 18th, 2011
I have a friend who subscribes to the belief that every experience you have in life is a “story for your storybook.” It’s become a kind of mantra in our group of friends, used in jest and in all seriousness. To credit Rob, though, it can be a pretty powerful reminder to be constantly seeking adventure and fun in everything you do.
So today, in honor of him, I bring the crowdSPRING community EpicThrills. Partnered with elite adventure outfitters and guides around the world, EpicThrills offers its members exclusive deals on extreme adventure. We’re talking hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro or boating down the Amazon– not stuff for the faint of heart. If you think you’ve got the right stuff, you can request an invitation to join here. Deals are offered each week, with the end goal of empowering members to live full lives of epic adventure.
EpicThrills founder, Allen Burt, talked to me a little bit about creating stories for your storybook:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
EpicThrills inspires people to live a life of adventure by offering them exclusive deals on epic trips around the world. Whether it’s heli-skiing in Alaska, surfing in Costa Rica, or whitewater rafting in Patagonia, we drop an unbelievable sale on an adventure in your email inbox each week.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
The travel industry is chalk full of challenges. Communication is tough, as most of the travel companies and adventure outfitters we work with would rather be outside guiding tours than sitting behind a computer emailing with us! Plus, many of our partners are located in remote destinations around the world. Maintaining consistent communication with our suppliers has been the biggest challenge.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
I’m neither a developer nor a designer. Building a technical e-commerce booking product that places a heavy focus on design was a large learning curve. I quickly realized that I needed to leverage outside experts.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
Before moving to New York, I was living and working on EpicThrills in Chicago. I’ve seen friends run projects on crowdSPRING and was impressed with the results. Plus, I always love supporting a fellow Chicago startup!
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
We are still a very young company, so I’m sure the stories will only get better from here on out. But, the morning that the website launched, I was on my way out the door to a meeting when a large unexpected news article went live sending a ton of traffic to the site. Everything crashed. I remember riding in the back of a cab through mid-town Manhattan writing code and directing my developers over my iPhone’s hotspot Wi-Fi to get the site back up and running.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I’d spend less time thinking and reading about how to start a company and spend more time actually doing it. Every part of launching a new company is hard, but the simple act of throwing skin in the game to make it come to life is the most challenging. If I had to go back and start all over again, I’d dive into the deep end much sooner. Nobody learns how to swim by sitting on the side of the pool and watching.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
The opportunities in the adventure travel market are endless. I believe there is a far greater opportunity beyond a simple “deals” or “flash-sales” model. I see us growing to become the preferred resource for discovering, outfitting, and empowering adventure experiences around the world.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Start now. Not tomorrow. Tell everyone.