Having a start-up is like jumping off a cliff and folding a really complex paper plane on the way down. We had the “light-bulb moment” and what followed was two years of highs and lows. We’re nearly six months old now and as we reach for the stars it’s important to remember why we’re doing this.
Ben and Benieke Treverton are the co-founders of Wanderloud. They both love being in the moment on holiday, storytelling, and beautiful photos.
The seed was planted in Edinburgh a number of years back. I left our camera in the seat-pocket of the plane in what turned out to be a pivotal moment. We fully expected to feel naked in a new place without our equipment. Instead, it taught us a real lesson about being in the moment when we travel.
Without the distraction of a device and the pressure to capture it all, we could really be there in our destination, and with each other. The icing on the cake would have been to have some beautiful photos that said it all to remember the experience by.
It made us really think about how good it would to be to have a fun, candid - professional, photoshoot on holiday. We’re travellers ourselves, ‘people people’ and with Ben a photographer, it became a fused passion.
An idea started to grow in our heads, and hearts. We are set on a move to France, you see. As much for lifestyle as to be closer to family and friends in Europe. But how will we live? Photographing holiday-makers there seemed the perfect way to make it sustainable.
“It was a business we believed in, a lifestyle we dreamed of. We could already see the looks on our clients’ faces when they saw their photos.”
But it didn’t sit quite right with us. It was too small. Couldn’t we do more?
Stability or passion? Predictable or risky? Comfort-zone or danger-zone?
The concept rattled around in our heads for nearly two years. Then, on a long car-trip back from a friend’s birthday, gloomy weather, our kids going crazy in the back and my mind doing overtime, I turned to Ben and said ‘I’ve got it! We’ll build a platform, go global, and connect travellers with local photographers all over the world’.
“What followed was a whirlwind of business proposals, concept development, branding, legalities and number-crunching.”
While flying solo in your own trendy space is a romantic thought, bringing an idea to life from scratch as an entrepreneur is massive and can be overwhelming.
I’m not quite sure how we got through those heady, early days – or how we found the determination and motivation to be where we are today.
Collaboration and following your heart is vital
I do know collaboration is the backbone. I’m so glad we founded the business in Newcastle, NSW. It really is an innovation hub with so many amazing and talented individuals, organisations and services. We have been able to surround ourselves with great people and networks.
“It’s really important to keep your eye on the prize. We believe in this!”
We’re building a brand, a concept, and a feeling – a service our target market didn’t realise they always wanted. Behind this is a slick, user-friendly platform and a complete social media spectrum.
We have values around delivering an outstanding experience, loving how travel brings out our best, being passionate and determined, communicating openly and honestly, never stopping growing and learning, and how the heart of a photograph is its story.
These are the cornerstone of what we’re doing and so important to us.
We also owe a lot of our early success to our photographers – these amazing, talented professionals all over the world felt a connection to what we were doing and agreed to work with us (sometimes I still pinch myself about this, they’re all so incredible)!
"We moved our young family overseas to free up capital, and time."
One of the main things we struggled with was how to find the money and time to start-up. We played out so many scenarios and kept arriving back at the one where we moved to Malaysia.
We lived there before we got married and knew Ben had a good chance of landing a role with a stable income we could live from. The time zone is accommodating and the technology world-class. We’d keep our property in Australia, send the kids to an international school and I could focus on the business. We also saw it as a stepping-stone to France.
It was a huge, personal decision for us. But, we wanted to be true to what we believe in, so we did it.
Both of us think it’s so important to be able to live in a place you love
In this digital age, the world of work is changing so much and it’s entirely possible to create a business you can run from anywhere. It’s something we genuinely believe in. Both of us think it’s so important to be able to live in a place you love. Starting a business like this allows the best of both worlds – and we are testament to it. Moving overseas hasn’t hindered our progress one bit.
"Plus we get an amazing life-experience. Bonus!"
Sometimes I need to remind myself we live a life a lot of people think is really cool and interesting – and it is! Kuala Lumpur is a chaotic, wonderful city with a beating, multicultural heart. Our children have Malay, Indian and Chinese friends. They know about Hari Raya (Eid, or the end of the Ramadam fasting month for Muslims), Deepavali (the Hindu festival of lights) and Chinese New Year. They call our older friends Aunty or Uncle and go on some pretty special holidays.
If we can do it, anyone can!
We’ve come a long way, geographically and figuratively. We made the move overseas last year to free up time and resources to work on Wanderloud. While I’m still immensely scared that I’m a nearly-40 mother-of-two doing this, the excitement and satisfaction of taking control lift me up. In another two years’ time, we want to have a scalable, profitable business we can run anywhere in the world.