Often the best business ideas emerge from the passion of their founders. Their experiences give them a unique perspective that resonates with their market and fills a need that people didn’t even realise they had. However, an idea in isolation does not a business make. Some guidance is required to channel this creative spark into a framework that can transform the the idea into a sustainable business model.
A passion for experiences
This was the case for Mitchell McLaughlin, co-founder of Road Guru. While spending some time in China back in 2013, Mitchell experienced the impact that a good tour guide can have on a traveller’s experience. This sparked a desire to give visitors to New Zealand a fantastic guided experience akin to what he witnessed overseas. Upon his return he established his own tour guiding business. The tours themselves were great, but the admin and management side of the business proved to be a bit of a headache.
Enter Caleb Helm, bringing with him a bit of experience around running a business. They started to form a bit of structure which is when the real magic happened. Realising that what a lot of tour guides need is a better way to manage the day-to-day so that they can focus on providing great New Zealand experiences, they formed Road Guru.
Road Guru, is a platform for tour guides to register their services and connect with travel agents around the world for job opportunities. They help tour guides manage their business and connect them to travel agents and potential customers. This is the core of what they do but they also provide sustainability in every sense of the word. They support businesses to be resilient and thrive in the long term while reducing waste and increasing efficiency.
Planning for the Future
Sustainability is something that the Road Guru co-founders are truly passionate about. “Sustainability is about meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow,” says Mitchell. The team has been looking at how they can bring this into their operation during Lightning Lab Tourism.
“Anyone in business knows that a more efficient operation saves money and cuts costs. By simply refocusing your view of business and examining how you operate, you will be on the way to developing a sustainable business,” Caleb says. Ultimately, their ambition is to foster a system that helps tourism operators to thrive and creates an ecosystem that will persist into the future.
A big part of making this dream a reality is leveraging what has become known as the “gig-economy”. Tourism is no stranger to this sort of model. Similarly to how AirBnB provides flexible options to travellers, Road Guru hopes to create a platform for tour operators. This will not only help these small businesses access new clients, it will also give tourists access to a greater variety of authentic kiwi experiences.
Road Guru will help budding tour providers just like Mitch to share their passion without getting bogged down in the niggly business details.
Road Guru are one of the Lightning Lab Accelerator Programme (LINK) teams based in Christchurch. If you’re keen to hear more about what Road Guru and the other teams are doing, RSVP for the Lightning Lab Tourism Demo Day on August 20, where the teams will be presenting their work to the world. You can also sign up for our newsletter to get all of the team updates in one place.