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Turnup.Travel: An Innovative Travel Company Creating Bespoke Travel Experiences

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By 2027, Travel & Tourism is expected to support more than 380 million jobs globally, which equates to 1 in 9 of all jobs in the world and the sector is expected to contribute around 23% of total global net job creation over the next decade. Thus, we are using travel and film to address negative perceptions, create opportunities for content creators and businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry and contribute to the new Africa narrative and development of the continent. In this e-Interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Muthuri Kinyamu, a co-founder of Turnup.Travel speaks on how they are using travel to create opportunities and connect people to what they care most about across Africa. Excerpt.

 

 

Tell us about yourselves and Turnup.Travel

Muthuri Kinyamu is a marketer by training, publicist and traveller turned tour operator, travel designer and a host. Previously, led a social media takeover campaign for Kenya Tourism Board to promote the Great Migration and domestic tourism and was part of the Nest.vc Africa journey since Day 1, building an Asian Venture Brand and community from scratch into the continent and Nest.vc is now synonymous with VC and entrepreneurship in Africa.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/muthurikinyamu/

My co-founder Brian Gatimu graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology at Oregon State University in the US but decided the only way to truly enact change was to go back home and develop his passion in photography by changing perceptions about Kenya and Africa armed with a Canon 700D.

Turnup.Travel is an inbound and outbound tour operator, a holiday concierge and a production arm that delivers stunning visual content, digital campaigns and stories. Turnup.Travel has a digital marketing arm called Turnup in Motion with a dedicated professional crew of photographers, filmmakers, writers, producers and licensed drone pilots. We also have Turnup for Good, which is a storytelling agency where we organize  themed tours and craft campaigns to amplify sustainable tourism, fundraising and CSR initiatives.

 

How much did you need to start your business and how were you able to raise that capital?

We are a self funded enterprise so we used our savings to fund the operation using customer revenue and reserves. Turnup.Travel was conceptualized at Voyager Beach Resort when two guys met during one of the KTB Social Media Takeover Campaign trips and decided to start something. You’ve probably heard modern travellers are looking for unique experiences and so we started Turnup.Travel to serve this demographic and we are already

changing how Kenyans travel.

 

What are the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?

My co-founder and I come from very different backgrounds which weren’t tourism but since he is people-centric while I am process driven we make a great team always learning and improving. We had to learn first and fast the intricacies of running a travel business and then built an experienced team to deliver. We invest in people first, tools and then seek collaborations to make things happen.

We are exposed to seasonality and cyclical nature of tourism but we are changing the behavioural aspects of this to inspire travel all year round. Besides that, we have a production and digital marketing side of the business that serves the hospitality industry thus we are busy all year round. Besides that, we are affected by things beyond our control like taxes, visas, incentives, infrastructure, security and safety concerns that hinder or facilitate the movement of people, our competitiveness of a destination and uptake of our packages.

  

 

What inspires you and keep you going?

Everyday hustle. ‌Every so often in a generation, disruption happens to ‘norms’, bringing trends and changes in thinking. Business leaders who thrive are always at the forefront of these disruptions; they’re quick to sniff the next big thing and connect with discerning audiences so for me it’d be the people who say yes to our crazy ideas, methodical madness and out of the box approach. Turnup.Travel stands out as an innovative travel company, creating bespoke travel experiences and opening hidden gems and thus we have been at the forefront of introducing new and unique products.

Our customers and partners keep us going and we are forever grateful. Besides that, we get to see in real life the resilience, appreciate diversity and inclusion through our travels. Each person is on their journey and pretty much inspires us to keep at it. So here’s to rebels and misfits – the courageous ones who continue to reject the norms and choose to be among the first. May the odds be in your favour.

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?

We are a digital first, content-driven and customer-centric business with a huge focus on new age travellers like millenials but we also serve other demographics. We are expanding our technical capabilities to sustain growth and scale beyond boarders. We also use travel to connect people to what they care most about thus we see ourselves as enablers and a lifestyle concierge to help transform your dreams into memories beyond getting you from point A to B thus we can expand across verticals and different passion points.

Turnup.Travel is launching an app where you can find, book, plan and pay in instalments for our signature experiences. It’s an experience marketplace with a financial management component to help you check what’s available (discovery), budget and book.

Visit https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.turnup

At Turnup.Travel, we combine the power of photography, film and storytelling as we leverage on social media platforms to reach our clients. We are thus combining film and tourism being at the intersection of travel, film and media we are well placed to fulfil the intense global demand for live travel experiences and content that resonates on a deeper emotional level so hopefully we should have our own travel TV show to inspire a new generation towards their path of self-discovery. At the moment, we are posting our videos on YouTube but we hope to bring that to your living room or device in your pocket or screen at your workplace

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2uKvoTBgiD9L4p4ovlhCtg

 

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

I think first there is no one way around this so chart your path and find your way around. There is a lot of literature around things to do, lessons and guides but some of these things do not apply in the continent where we have unique underlying challenges. We have immense problems which would thus give any curious mind a canvas to think of solutions. I would say do not be narrative driven but look out and analyse opportunities.

Always remember if something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you are a failure so rise and get on to the next thing. If you cannot build it from scratch, you need to figure out how to bring a minimum viable product to the market to start with what you have and can do then figure out the rest as you go. People are willing to support what’s already in motion not to push or restart what has stalled so you got to start and keep moving no matter what. Good luck!

 

How is your business participating to the development of Africa?

By 2027, Travel & Tourism is expected to support more than 380 million jobs globally, which equates to 1 in 9 of all jobs in the world and the sector is expected to contribute around 23% of total global net job creation over the next decade. As a travel and production business, we create direct jobs and income-generating opportunities along our value chain, we source from locals and small businesses and impact communities around the destinations we visit.

We always pursue a triple bottom line in everything. It must be fun for participants, must bring ROI/ value to our trade partners/sponsors and be impactful and socially conscious to the community. In the past, for example, we have donated proceeds to Homeless of Nairobi children’s home and we have an upcoming Heritage Tour specifically aimed at fundraising for the kids education and rehabilitation of street children. Through Turnup for Good, we seek to highlight good social initiatives by showcasing their work to bring their stories to our audiences and help them with fundraising or direct donation.

We are thus using travel and film to address negative perceptions, create opportunities for content creators and businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry and contribute to the new Africa narrative and development of the continent. Getting people to travel opens borders, brings foreign exchange and boosts trade. Every month we directly engage content creators through our Instagram tours thus creating an opportunity to learn from each other, collaborate and showcase which thus contributes to skills development, opens new places for consideration and opens doors to more income-generating opportunities for young creators on the continent.

We started in Kenya because charity begins at home, but we have a pan African vision and global mindset. This is the last frontier and we are excited about what the future looks like for the continent. Join us!

 

How do you relax and what books do you read?

Our business is travel so I am lucky enough to mix business with leisure. I am an introvert so a good conversation indoors or outdoors with someone and maybe a picturesque view with Turnup. Travel family helps me unwind. In my line of work, I get to meet lots of interesting and fascinating people from all walks of life who inspire, challenge me and give me unique perspectives. I take most from these interactions in everyday Africa.

 

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Afripreneur

Vetwork Inc, MENA’s leading startup for animal care is bringing petcare to your home

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Vetwork Inc Founders, Abdelreheem Hussein and Fady Azzouny (Source: Vetwork)

Pets today are considered family members, best friends, confidants, and so much more. Taking care of them requires more than just love and dedication, but also the right knowledge to recognize when something is not right. Vetwork Inc, MENA’s leading startup for animal care industry one country at a time and its mission is to make pets healthier, pet owners happier. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Fady Azzouny Founder and CEO of Vetwork Inc talked about his entrepreneurship journey, his vision for petcare with Vetwork and the future plan. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Why did you start and what’s the passion behind it?

Fady: Petcare should be easy, as it stands its full of inefficiencies for both pet parents and vets. Instead of a crowded clinic with a waiting time of 30-45 minutes, vets come to you at home at the time you choose. Rather than try to muster up a massive amount of money to fund a clinic, vets can practice their services without any initial cost and make extra money to live a better life.

The vision of regulating the petcare industry involves a lot of innovation, our dream is to use the available technologies to make everyone’s lives easier and right now we’re on the right track.

 

Alaba: What is your background?

Fady: I graduated as a veterinarian, but I consider myself an entrepreneur. I saw some problems in the veterinary market while I was still studying and started a bunch of projects, with a few of them turning into medium sized companies. My initial problem was the absence of technology in my solutions, with Vetwork I think we can really achieve my vision of making petcare easier.

 

Alaba: What are the problems you are solving and what is your value proposition?

Fady: Its simple, we are solving the problem of finding a good vet by selecting our vets from a pool of more than 1000 annual applications. And the problem of waiting in the clinic through Home visits available 24/7. Also, we are addressing Vets problems of low wages and salaries by offering them easy access to extra income.

Vetwork is reliable, affordable and available petcare.

 

Alaba: Tell us more about the process, users, business model!

Fady: As we stand the process is the same across Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE). We onboarded more than 300 vets across these three countries. These vets help us cater to our customer’s needs. A pet parent can log into our website or app and request a service at the time of their choosing. A vet will be assigned and introduced to the client.

The vet will then arrive, conduct the visit and deliver a detailed orientation on the tips and tricks of petcare. Our medical records also allow us to follow-up with our pet parents to make sure that everything is going according to plan and their pet is getting better.

 

Alaba: What are your main challenge?

Fady: Since we promise to deliver all your pets needs to you, finding the right groomers, trainers, vets and boarding facilities is always a challenge due to our strict onboarding guidelines.

 

Alaba: What is your achievements and coming plan?

Fady: After launching in three countries our plan is to start expanding further into the MENA region and build our presence in the countries that need us the most. Our tech infrastructure allows us to launch in any country in a matter of days and we plan to take advantage of this to test markets and become your pets partner anywhere in the Middle East.

 

Alaba: Do you think the ecosystem support you?

Fady: Ideas and mentorship, we’re always happy to learn and listen to other people’s ideas on how we can make petcare an easier process. We try our best to promote pet adoption since a lot of shelters are full of pets that need a home. Access to people with a wider audience can surely help us deliver our message to the people that need us the most.

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Zoe Adjonyoh, the Ghanaian Irish Chef, Writer and Activist revolutionizing African Cuisine

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Zoe Adjonyoh, Founder at Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (Source: Zoe Adjonyoh)

Zoe Adjonyoh is on a mission to bring African food to the masses. Born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, the writer and chef from South-East London deepened her understanding of West African cuisine after a trip to visit her extended family in Ghana. Described by the Observer as “the standard bearer for West African food” and named by Nigel Slater as ‘one to watch’ bringing immigrant food to Britain. She was named one of “London’s hottest chefs” by Time Out and most recently has been included as one of ‘The 44 Best Female Chefs in the World’ by Hachette Cuisine France. She became a judge at “The Great Taste Awards” in 2016, which is known as the “Oscars” of the food industry, and in 2018, she won the Iconoclast award at The James Beard Foundation.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

Zoe began by selling Ghanaian food outside her front door during the 2010 Hackney Wicked Arts Festival to ‘make a bit of pocket money’ after returning from traveling across The United States. After the popularity of the stall she set up selling peanut stew outside her front door, Zoe went on the host many supper clubs in her home consistently selling out.

Zoe has been making waves in the international food scene ever since. Zoe has taken her fresh interpretation of classic Ghanaian flavours to pop-up venues across London, Berlin, Accra, Russia and New York, and is a leader in the new African cuisine revolution. Along with her world-renowned supper clubs, Zoe launched her first fixed restaurant space in 2015, at shipping container community project Pop Brixton.

In 2017, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen became a roving private dining, street food, wedding and events company, which Zoe ran alongside her chef residencies. The brand is a prominent force in the festival community around the UK, including Camp Bestival as part of The Feast Collective, and came runner-up as ‘Best Street Food Trader’ at the UK Festival Awards 2017.

Revolutionizing West African Food

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was the first modern West African Restaurant in the United Kingdom. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was the epitome of social, relaxed and affordable dining – where guests gather to enjoy Ghanaian favourites, notable for their heartiness and spice, alongside Zoe’s contemporary West African creations.

In 2014, Zoe began writing her debut cookbook titled ‘Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’ and was released in 2017 by
Octopus Books. The first modern West African Cookbook to be published in the United Kingdom. Due to its demand the publishers decided to re-release of the cookbook in November 2020 and is the process of working on her second book.

Source: Zoe Adjonyoh

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Coco Olakunle, the Nigerian Dutch photographer passionate about humanity, inclusion and diversity

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Coco Olakunle is a Nigerian Dutch photographer with a background in Human Geography based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her cultures and lived experience are constant sources of inspiration. This produces a photography style that can be seen as a crossover between documentary and fashion, where she always try to highlight the importance of the subject’s identity and background. During her work time, she likes to create a space where the subject feels comfortable and at ease being themselves and letting their personality show. Coco finds that when the subjects in her work feels comfortable, it is felt in the overall process and in the end product.

Her work revolves around people and the personalities they embody: Coco uses her camera as a way to engage with humanity and peacefully open the doors of full spectrum inclusivity and representation. She’s constantly creating spaces for her subjects to express themselves and discover who they are. The subject is always the starting point but what you see in the image is actually a snapshot of her vision: how I want to see us.

“For most of us, 2020 was a tough year. At the beginning of the year, all my jobs were cancelled. Being in lockdown and not being able to work forced me to rethink my skill set. I wasn’t able to practice photography though photoshoots, but I was able to share my experience as a freelance photographer with others. During that time, I got the opportunity to be in front of the classroom multiple times at various art academies, including one I had been previously rejected from as an applicant. To me, this proves that there are different tracks and ways to achieve your goals. Talking to the next generation of visual artists about my work and the philosophy behind it was a new experience for me. It was refreshing to bring other perspectives to the table, especially not coming from an art academy myself. I feel a great responsibility bringing new perspectives into these institutions and guiding students in finding their visual identity and translating it into their creative work.” Coco said.

One of my absolute highlights from 2020 was shooting the cover of ELLE magazine’s September issue. This was super exciting because I got to focus more on the fashion side of photography, and it was such an honor to have my work on the cover of such a big magazine. I look forward to doing more work in the field of fashion, where I can bring my photography style and cultural background to the table. I am constantly inspired by so many great African photographers, some of which are Nigerian, which makes me even more proud. Seeing all the creative work that comes from the continent inspires me from a distance, and even more when I am there.

Coco aim to get back to Lagos, as soon as possible. She said, “Creating in the motherland is very personal for me because it’s a way for me to connect with and learn more about my culture and my people on a deeper level. Being on Nigerian soil gives me a different type of creativity and inspiration from within and I love working with my people when I am there. My camera is like a passport that gives her access to new people and stories which I love bringing back with me and sharing.”

One of her personal projects is a documentary fashion series about her family in Lagos, which she sees as a personal exploration of her Nigerian culture and an exciting challenge. The idea for this project stems from when she was young. “I dream about Nigeria a lot and created my own image of how it would look in my head, and how my family would be. This visualization is my starting point for this series, blending my own vision with what I see when I am there. This project is a way for me to connect with my heritage and discover more about Nigerian culture, and, through that, myself.” Coco said.

In terms of personal development, she hopes to explore different sides of photography she is less familiar with. Coco is excited to master the physics of lighting, because she believes light is how you paint a picture. She loves learning new things in general, making the entire process to be a fun one.

“The past year brought me a lot of new opportunities and new perspectives which I am grateful for, and hope to take with me further into the next years. For the new year, my focus will be on sharing and creating supportive environments where other photographers can connect with and uplift each other.” She said.

A few weeks ago, Coco organized a ‘Creative Catch Up’ for a small group of creatives to reflect on the past year and share ideas for the next year. With good food, music and a table filled with (photography) books this get together turned into a supportive environment where they shared project ideas, thoughts and insecurities. Something she thinks they as freelancers should do more often.

Her work

Source: Coco Olakunle
Source: Coco Olakunle
Source: Coco Olakunle

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