Why Responsible Nomad? (Your Invitation)
No, I am not trying to be pretentious or arrogant.
I named this blog responsible nomad for three reasons: 1) I like the name, 2) it represents an ethos that I hope to embody, and 3) it reminds me of the multitude of lessons I learned during my first failed venture.
I came up with the name Romad in late 2007 when I was putting together a business plan for a social business that would provide responsible travel information and an online community for independent travelers in developing countries.
Think Kiva combined with Lonely Planet – a resource that connects travelers who want to make a difference with the most relevant way to do so (i.e. locally-owned businesses, social businesses, local community leaders, responsible private sector businesses, community-based tourism initiatives). Armed with the responsible tourism guidelines used by Romad staff to evaluate entries, travelers could actively participate in the on-going development of the guide and add/edit content, offer local advice, find travel partners, etc. Instead of developing countries losing up to 80% of proceeds from the tourism industry due to capital flight, such a resource would help bridge the information gap for travelers and allow them to better support local economic development (and have a more interesting experience!).
With the kind help of many good friends (Andy, Rachel, Melissa, Kate, Allison, Daniela, Teresa, and others), the idea got momentum and we put together a business plan to enter in the University of Notre Dame Sustainable Social Venture Competition. We made the finals, and I flew out to South Bend to present with the rest of my team (Andy and Melissa). We came in second place and received a bit of cash to get things going (more or less covering my flight to the USA for the contest).
Over the next 2 years, I tried to get Responsible Nomad up and running. I learned Joomla and web design basics, and built the site myself from scratch. However, maintaining the site (and fending off the occasional hacker that placed obscene photos on the site) was distracting me from more important activities like creating compelling content.
When I finally had a job that afforded me a bit of extra income, I searched for a website developer who could take the website to the next level, build the online community (which is the crux of the model), and allow me to focus on developing the core business. My partnership offer was generous, but no one ever stuck around long enough to get anything meaningful done. In late 2009, as work piled up at Hagar and my passion turned toward other initiatives I finally decided to cut my losses and close the website.
With that said, I’d like to extend an invitation to you.
I still think the world needs Responsible Nomad. There is a demand out there and there is a niche no one has filled yet. I don’t care about getting rich off of this – my dream is simply to see the idea come to fruition for the good of all stakeholders that the social business is designed to benefit.
Business plans don’t make businesses – passionate, hard-working people make businesses. Are you one of those?
Download and read the (dense and outdated) business plan my team wrote. Send me an email and lets make this a reality.