Sat on Rio de Janeiro’s beautiful Copacabana beach during a gap year in South America, whilst taking in the stunning scenery that southern Brazil has to offer, James Wormington couldn’t help but think how magical experiences like these are often better when shared.
With that thought came an idea; a brainwave which not only grew legs, but began running, taking James on another adventure: into the world of business.
With a detailed plan in place and funding secured from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free business loan, which is available to the value of £20,000, James was able to establish Travamigos – an app that allows solo travellers to connect with groups of likeminded adventurers heading for the same destination; making travel simple, safe and enjoyable for all.
“Backpackers no longer need to go through the worry of being alone in a foreign country, or have apprehensive thoughts about exploring the world,” explains James, who studied Commercial Management at Nottingham Trent University before going full-time with Travamigos, The Group Travel App.
“Just download our app, answer a few preference questions and be presented with groups of fun people who all share the same passion for travel.”
In the early stages of planning, James researched similar apps and noted the frequency of negative user reviews. It soon became clear that there was a gap in the market, and James ensured that Travamigos took it. “The one-to-one apps that are currently available promote a dating culture, which is not only sleazy but also very unsafe,” he says.
“This is not the case with Travamigos, as a group culture by nature does not tolerate bad behaviour. The feedback we’ve received since launching has been fantastic and we can’t wait to see where this journey leads to.”
As most Sir Thomas White Loan Charity business borrowers will testify, going into business alone, ignoring negative voices and trusting an idea can be challenging. That was certainly the case for James, but he took the leap of faith and emerged on the other side with an exciting business under his belt.
“The main challenges to overcome are self-doubt, and initial capital investment,” James explains.
“The thoughts going through my head daily were ‘if this doesn’t work I’m going to look an idiot’ or ‘I haven’t got what it takes to run an international company’ – but these were soon eliminated once I’d done it. You learn so much every single day in business; it really is an amazing experience.”
So how has The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free business loan helped so far?
“Sir Thomas White has helped me get this product to market, and without their help it wouldn’t have been feasible,” he states.
“I invested the money into product development, and now have some great features that our users love, as well as a successful business and the foundations to keep it upstanding in a very tough industry.
“Looking back, my interview with STWLC – and all of the preparation beforehand – was tough,” he reflects.
“The panel (of Trustees) put you through your paces, but rightly so. They wanted to make sure I was a capable candidate with strong business acumen, and had an idea that had legs to go places. After I got the confirmation letter and my guarantors had signed on the dotted line, the funds were sent into my bank account.”
When asked for his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who may be considering a business launch of their own, research and determination was at the heart of James’ message.
“Go for it with everything you’ve got, but do your research,” he advises.
“If you have an idea, 90% of the time someone is already doing it. Don’t let this put you off in every instance – find out what their users are disappointed about, adapt those comments and revolutionise the marketplace.”
James’ story can certainly serve as inspiration for anyone who’s thinking about going it alone in the world of business. With Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s financial support, Travamigos has been able to launch, expand and benefit people all around the world; but as James explains, he has no intention of stopping there.
“Travamigos now has partners such as Skyscanner, Hostelworld, Amazon, WeSwap, Masta and Outbacker, who have all demanded exclusivity for bookings in their field,” reveals James.
“We are working closely with our partners to become a one-stop-shop for backpackers to book everything they need. We also have a sticker system in the pipeline, whereby users can collect stickers after each trip they’ve completed, which then rewards them with a virtual trophy – ‘Thailand Veteran,’ for example. Users can tick each country off their bucket list and aim to complete the entire world!
“I am proud to bring this solution to the market, and am so excited to see what adventures this will take me on in the future.”
For further information on The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free business loans, please click here