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Sam Bruce, Co-founder of Much Better Adventures (INTERVIEW)

Planet-Friendly Travel Company

— March 28, 2012 — Social Good
Sam Bruce is one of the energetic co-founders of Much Better Adventures, a travel company geared at those seeking thrilling excursions around the world -- and who want to do so with a conscience.

We've profiled the social business before, and today we're diving a little deeper in an interview with Sam. In his answers he talks about green washing in the industry, and what their company is doing differently. He also shares where the business idea came from, what it's like working with the team (they all live together in a chalet in the alps!), and what's next for this group of young and adventurous social entrepreneurs.

5 Questions With Sam Bruce, Co-founder of Much Better Adventures

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
Having owned, operated and led the marketing and sales for various travel operators, we (Alex, Ed, Guy, Tom and I) set out to solve the problem that small travel businesses struggle to compete online. This is a problem for them, but also for travellers who are missing out on great choices. We also wanted to tackle the widespread problems of greenwash and ‘green fatigue’ among both consumers and industry by highlighting the green and good in the adventure industry.

Along the way we have widened our mission, realising that a sustainable future needs to include everyone, not just the merry band of pioneers who lead the way. So now we encourage, advise and reward all who demonstrate a genuine on-going commitment to improvement. We also offer a jargon-free sustainability consultancy to help others improve.

Much Better Adventures was born therefore from a belief that travel, rather than continue to be part of the problem, can be part of the solution. We felt it was easy to criticize others for doing things wrong but its way more fun to just go and do it right yourself.

2. How did you decide to join this sector?
Despite our various backgrounds, we’ve each got our own reasons for wanting to change a thing or two in the travel industry.

It initially began with Alex in the jungles of Ecuador. Alex was marketing an ecotourism project when he realised that there was no low cost marketing portal for small, local and ethical businesses. Most online marketing portals charged huge amounts for advertising, which small family-run businesses just couldn't afford -- hence the need for Much Better Adventures. In the end, the ecolodge was forced to sell its land to loggers in order to stay afloat. Meanwhile, in the French Alps, Ed was witnessing first hand the destructive and corporate nature of the ski industry and the damage it was doing to local communities and mountains.

Tom and I came into it with backgrounds in sustainability and social enterprise. I’d done some marketing work for an animal conservation social enterprise and saw tourism as a very effective force for good. We’ve somehow all found each other at the right time and have made it happen!

3. How do you get your inspiration?
One of the many perks of our jobs is that we get to work with incredibly inspiring people and projects. Our collection of ‘Pioneer’ and ‘muchbetter’ partners are thought leaders who are transforming their communities and we get to interact with them every day. Take Chris at OneSeed for example.

Personally, my main source of inspiration comes from our own headquarters. We all live and work together in a small chalet and you really do get to know people under those circumstances. The genuine passion, hard work and positive energy that exists under our roof after two and half years of exhausting bootstrapping is phenomenal. This is a vital piece of advice I’d offer any startup -- work with positive people who still give a sausage when the going gets tough.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
We have the benefit of working in one of the most beautiful places in the world in the French Alps. We are currently based in a town called Morzine where we can ski, ride, climb and hike when we’re not glued to our laptops. Quite often our most key strategic decisions are made on a ski lift or on a walk around our local lake (pictured). We take blue-sky thinking quite literally here.

5. What’s next?
We’re only just getting started with Much Better. We have version two of the site coming soon and we’ve listed our future action plans for the project, which includes a sustainable world tour to meet our amazing partners.

We are also excited to announce on Trend Hunter and Social Business that we have a new travel site launching this year. It’s called Get Me Gone and is born out of what we’ve learnt building Much Better. In a nutshell, Get Me Gone is a buyer-powered travel market where travellers ask their next holiday to find them. It’s going to do small travel businesses a lot of favours and travellers are going to freaking love it. You can
already sign up for a beta invite.

What to get in touch with the team on Twitter?
Follow Sam: @muchbetterSam
Follow Much Better Adventures: @muchbetteradven