Origin Startup Interview: Where the Wild Is
30th Jan 2019
Travel marketing expert, Emma Durkin, took her passion for adventure to another level when she opened her own holiday company, Where The Wild Is. Emma now creates opportunities for others to experience truly wild journeys, leading tours to little-known beauty spots in the Arctic and Scandinavia. Emma chose the Origin Workspace Startup programme to help get Where The Wild Is off the ground. We asked Emma to share her journey.
Why did you choose OWS startup package over other startup programmes?
I attended Social Media Week Bristol in 2018 and one of the sessions I signed up for was to get free business advice if you had an idea. I went along and met with Rob and Charlie and told them my plans to launch a UK-based tour operator specialising in beautiful places to stay in Northern Europe, with a strong focus on the Arctic. I really enjoyed meeting with them and liked the idea of coming on board with a brand new programme.
I have a couple of challenges – one is the ongoing challenge of being alone, the other is lack of time and budget to get everything done that I would like to.
The building renovation project also sounded exciting, I felt there was a good level of flexibility offered with links to networking events, and the attention to wellness that Origin Workspace has was all very appealing. It just felt like a good fit for me.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since beginning this journey?
I have a couple of challenges – one is the ongoing challenge of being alone, the other is lack of time and budget to get everything done that I would like to. I feel overall that being an individual person launching a startup is tough and often wish I had a business partner to talk ideas through with, share the load and to help make progress more quickly.
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When you’re on your own, you have to weigh up which ideas to push, because there’s never enough time or budget to execute them all. It doesn’t matter how many hours I work each day, I want to be able to get more done. With limited resources, I can’t compete against the bigger organisations out there, so I focus on offering a level of service, attention to detail and customer care that is far greater than that of many of my competitors.
I had visions of me sat at home working alone every day (perhaps going slightly mad) or bouncing from cafe to cafe in town, trying to find an atmosphere to work in and be productive. Having a place to go and to be surrounded by people has created a sense of belonging for the brand at an early stage.
I also have an unbelievable amount of support from individuals and businesses reducing rates and offering their time for free, which has really helped boost my confidence knowing so many people believe in the brand and me as a person.
What’s been your biggest success since you’ve joined the Origin Startup package?
Being on the Origin Startup programme shows that the idea is believed in and gives extra confidence for others wanting to help and get involved. It’s enabled me to develop a partnership with 3Sixty Digital – an award-winning Bristol-based digital agency who specialise in digital solutions for the travel industry. The digital solution provided by 3Sixty – a professional and high-quality website – is more than I could ever have imagined at this stage.
We met back in March 2018 and after talking them though the idea and meeting on several more occasions, we developed a partnership. We have worked together to provide a white labelled solution that other small-scale travel businesses will value.
How have you found the mentoring aspects of the startup package?
Rob Hingston has been on the Where The Wild Is journey from the start – even when I was deciding on a brand name! Just having someone to talk to and get help and advice from has been really helpful. I procrastinate rather a lot, and Rob has helped me to make some good decisions.
It’s also been great getting assistance with the operational side of setting up the business. Just simple things like registering the business online, sorting phone lines out etc. Rob has introduced me to an accountant who will be looking after my finances moving forward which is great.
And when I needed a solicitor to witness my signature on a document, I got many quotes in Bristol but they were all out of my price range. Rob connected me to some new joiners in the workspace, a team of lawyers who helped me out at a fraction of the cost.
And what’s it like being part of the Origin Workspace community?
The social element of joining Origin Startup has been great. Just meeting people and making new friends has been wonderful. When I resigned from my previous job, I had visions of me sat at home working alone every day (perhaps going slightly mad) or bouncing from cafe to cafe in town, trying to find an atmosphere to work in and be productive. Having a place to go and to be surrounded by people has created a sense of belonging for the brand at an early stage.
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I also really enjoy the workouts, and the networking has meant that I’ve met people who have then helped with something that I needed for the brand. The thriving location of the office, which is surrounded by quirky cafes, great places to eat and Brandon Hill (for a stroll if you need to take five from the desk) makes Origin Workspace an appealing place to go and be on a regular basis. Where The Wild Is has found its home and I look forward to what the future brings with Origin Workspace by my side.
Origin Workspace is again on the lookout for six lucky Bristol-based entrepreneurs or small businesses, who will each be provided with £18,000-worth of dedicated mentoring, office space, training and networking opportunities to turn their business dreams into a reality. Hopeful applicants can sign up to a pitch session taking place throughout February.