How $40m travel business Chimu Adventures started on the back of a beer coaster

Greg Carter was working as a school teacher in London with only $30 to his name when he met up with his mate Chad Carey at the pub for a pint.

The pair originally met when working a ski season in California a few years earlier and over a pint or two that evening they came up with their business idea on the back of a beer coaster.

“He wanted to go to South America and he wasn’t sure whether to go with a tour or as a backpacker and I said I thought I could do a tour for half the price so we decided to start a business,” Carter says. “We had no idea what we were doing. Neither of us came from a business background. When we first started our big motto was bums on seats.”

This simple approach paid off with Chimu Adventures now employing 60 people and turning over more than $40 million a year.

At the time a booking system had just been introduced in Peru for people trekking the Inca trail, as one of the only travel businesses in South America using the internet to advertise Chimu Adventures got lots of its early customers operating as a portal for people booking Inca trail permits online.

“We were still working our day jobs and working on the business at night,” says Carter. “It was in 2006 that we discovered gold with the Google ads and from there it exploded. Having no background in the industry we were not aware at all about our competitors, traditionally people going to South America would go to a retail agent, they wouldn’t go online but we embraced online heavily.” Read more

Cara Waters – Brisbane Times – 24 Oct 2017