The past 18 months have been an incredible journey for the founder of Where The Wild Is, Emma Durkin. She came to Origin Workspace with an idea written on a scrap of paper, lots of enthusiasm and a strong history of working for tour operators.
We talk to Emma about how Origin Startup has helped her transform her idea into a growing business that takes people on incredible journeys to Scandinavia too.

She tells us why she has become an Origin Workspace Connect Card member and what she’ll be offering to her fellow coworkers here at Origin Workspace…

The journey so far

For me, starting Where The Wild Is was about being able to focus on the destinations that I really love, such as Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. I want to be known as a specialist in those areas, taking people to the wildest places and giving them life changing experiences.

But as a tour operator, we want to give something back. We’re supporting Zing Ocean Conservancy in Norway, which is working to clean up the Arctic shorelines of washed-up plastic.

We also try to find accommodation providers, activity companies and excursion companies that have strong green and ethical credentials. This could be through ensuring there is good animal welfare in husky farms or by promoting snow mobiles that run on electric hybrid engines.

5 ways that the Origin Startup scheme has helped me

  1. Offering back-up and support: When I first applied to Origin Startup, I came with the idea on a piece of paper! To get that confirmation that someone else thought it was a good idea really helped begin the journey, and having a dedicated mentor to guide me has been amazing.
  2. A collaborative environment: Once I started, it escalated quite fast because I was in a collaborative workspace with other people and businesses trying to get off the ground as well. There’s been so much sharing and collaboration. For example, a solicitor wanted to charge me £500 to witness a signature, but a solicitor at Origin Workspace charged me a fraction of the price to help me out.
  3. A proper office: When I decided to set up my own business, I imagined that I would be working at home and in cafés around town, which isn’t very productive for me. I was quite concerned about that. I didn’t envisage that I would get on a startup programme and have this professional environment to work in. Being here and having an office and a desk surrounded by other businesses has been amazing.
  4. Added extras: There are loads of things that I’ve been able to do just because I’m here. I wouldn’t have been to hold a recent event without Origin Workspace, because they let me use the event space free of charge. And you get tea and coffee and the gym!
  5. Reflecting on my achievements: 18 months ago, we didn’t have a name or a website or any branding. I didn’t have any booking software or insurance in place. It’s really important to take the time to reflect and realise we have achieved a lot.

My offer to Origin Workspace Connect Card members

Now that we are more established, I’m keen to give something back to my coworkers at Origin Workspace, which is why we’ve joined the Connect Card scheme.

Every quarter we will run different member offers. We’re currently offering members 5% off an itinerary to a trip to Iceland. There are four different hotels to choose from, with mid-range and luxury options.

In future, we’re planning further discounts on other trips, such as family trips to Lapland, so keep looking at the different offers as they change!

Taking Where The Wild Is to new places

I want to be a specialist in the destinations at the top of the world, so I’d like to add new destinations such as Canada, the Faroe Islands and Scotland.

So next year may well involve more travelling to develop what we can offer, find new suppliers and learn out about more green innovation within those destinations.

My advice to people who want to start their own business

Just do it! There’s no easy way to do it and I’m still working somewhere else to pay the bills, but if you don’t start time just goes so quick.
If you’ve got an idea and you genuinely believe that it can work, you just have to get on and work really hard and be prepared to put in a lot of hours. You’ll reap the rewards in the future.

Find out more about Where The Wild Is – and the exciting range of other local businesses offering Origin Workspace members a discount with the Origin Workspace Connect Card.

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