What do you get when you mix a passion for starting a business with an interest in visiting North Korea?
A travel company that takes people to North Korea, of course.
Gareth Johnson is the CEO of the foremost adventure travel company in the world, Young Pioneer Tours. His travel company helps interested pioneers explore off-the-beaten-path places (that your mother would rather have you stay away from).
And rather than being an exclusive “stuffy” travel company, Gareth said it was his passion for helping people become pioneers that attracted people to his business.
Allow me to introduce CEO, Gareth Johnson…
I am CEO of Young Pioneer Tours (YPT) and Let’s Buy An Island. The former is the foremost adventure travel company in the world, the second is the first crowdfunded private island and country in the world.
I moved to the Cayman Islands at 21 as a bartender then ended up teaching in China. I really wanted to try my own business and also visit North Korea, so I ended up combining the two before expanding the company into other destinations. I basically wanted to share my passion, which is what I have done.
With Let’s Buy An Island, it was a concept I had had in my head for a long time; becoming big enough with YPT allowed me the scope to do this.
I had to build a better mouse trap. All the other North Korea travel agents were expensive and stuffy. I reduced cost, raised quality, and did it through a real brand.
For the island, I copied other crowdfunding ideas but put it around a really fun concept.
We started in China in 2008. It really was just a simple site, and I talked friends into joining whilst working a full-time job. The passion, though, brought the people.
Being inclusive, not exclusive. We call people Pioneers and make them feel part of a family.
The book Buyology.
We are trying to get back after Covid. Now I just need more staff and for North Korea to open, then I will be happy.
No one will do it for you, you need to do it yourself. I meet so many people starting up who are not prepared to give anything up. If you want the same money right away and do not want risk, then you should not start a business.