Sometimes ideas can be born out of random conversations or chance mishaps or other serendipitous events. This would seem to be the case with the photography start-up Wanderloud. A few years ago, Benieke Treverton was on a trip to Edinburgh with her husband Ben and she happened to forget her camera in the seat pocket of the plane. Her initial fear is possibly one that most of us would relate to, namely the feeling that without a camera, something would be missing and that the holiday experience would be somehow diminished.
“I fully expected to feel naked in a new place without my equipment – but instead it taught me a real lesson about being present when we travel,” she says. “Without the distraction of a device and the pressure to capture it all, I could really be there.”
“There was just once glitch, however. I would really have liked some photos to remember the experience by.”
The memory of this experience stayed with the Trevertons for the next couple of years and then formed the basis of the concept that has now become Wanderloud – an online platform that connects travellers and photographers around the world for a bespoke service to capture people’s best memories on holiday.
Smartphones have transformed the world in so many ways, and particularly the whole travel experience. Visit any major attraction in any destination around the world and you’re bound to see a sea of people taking selfies with the attraction somewhere in the background. These pictures will then be uploaded to their preferred social media platform in the need to validate and prove their experience to the folks back home.
“Selfie-lovers’ photos will always be from more or less the same angle depending on the length of your arm (or dreaded selfie-stick),” says Benieke’s husband Ben. “If you’re there as a family, or with friends, someone will inevitably get left out of the shot as you all huddle in front of a device.”
“Plus you won’t actually see much of your destination in the resulting snaps – just a bunch of people close-up with what could be the Eiffel Tower in the background, or a streetscape that could be anywhere but might actually be Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.”
In fact, because so many of us are doing the same thing, we seem increasingly to be taking the same pictures, which the video Instatravel – A Photogenic Mass Travel Experience posted on Vimeo by Olivier KMIA cleverly illustrates. On the other hand, Wanderloud, argue the Trevertons, enables travellers to capture some really unique memories.
“You get amazing photos that really show where you are, taken by a local professional,” says Ben.
The concept has now been turned into a business, but the initial steps in bringing it all to life weren’t straightforward.
“We’re kind of set on moving to France long term,” says Benieke. “And us photographing holidaymakers seemed like a way to make it possible. But somehow it didn’t feel right. It seemed too small.”
It was then that the idea of setting up a platform to connect travellers with local photographers struck. However, starting out as a first time entrepreneur is no simple task, and it requires a great deal of motivation and determination.
“We were so excited to introduce our passion and idea to the world so the groundwork became a new chapter we were happy to begin,” she continues. “Plans were made late into the night, ideas were sketched on cocktail napkins over drinks, pages were typed then deleted and written again, and eventually we had a polished business plan that we were equally passionate about and proud of.”
They set up business in Newcastle, New South Wales in Australia, which is something of an innovation hub. This allowed them to network with a lot of the individuals and organisations there, and such collaboration helped them get started.
One of the main challenges many start-ups face is finding both the time and the money to get things moving, and this was no different for Wanderloud. In order to free up time and resources, the couple opted to move to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, a place they had lived previously.
“The world of work is changing so much and it’s entirely possible to create a business you can run from anywhere,” says Benieke. “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. Kuala Lumpur is a chaotic, wonderful city with a beating multicultural heart.”
Once the concept was up and running, the next challenge was to source photographers to work with Wanderloud. Having lived in various places around the world, Ben and Benieke were able to use their network of friends and contacts to put them in touch with people who might be interested.
“We talk with our photographers, go through their portfolios and some do a demo shoot for us,” explains Ben. “It’s hugely important for us to build close, genuine relationships with our photographers. It gives the customer an authentic bond and outstanding experience with them.”
This, they feel, is part of the key attraction of the service.
“It’s like hanging out with a local friend who takes incredible photos,” says Ben.
Wanderloud now works with photographers in more than 40 destinations around the world, including thirteen locations in Asia, and there are plans for further growth.
“In two years’ time, we want to have a scalable, profitable business that we can run anywhere in the world,” says Benieke.
An increasing number of start-ups are looking at providing co-created products and personalised experiences as more and more people look for more than just the generic and the mass-produced. Wanderloud is doing the same for your holiday snaps.
“Holidays should be well-deserved breaks for both body and mind,” says Ben. “And memories shouldn’t be captured by hundreds of photos taken of yourself.”
A perfect thought to carry with you as you consider booking your next holiday.
All photos courtesy of Wanderloud and used with permission.