“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
That is, perhaps, one of my favorite quotes of all time. And when it comes to living that out, one particular company has got to be the sole winner.
Gone Adventurin’, a Singapore-based startup company, is a social enterprise that enables companies and brands to create purpose-driven profit. They do this through research, immersion experiences based on adventures and inspiring film and media content. Yes, you hear right, purpose-driven profit through great adventures.
This week, we had the privilege to interview Mr. Ashwin Subramaniam, one of the co-founders at Gone Adventurin’, to tell us a little more about combining adventures and creating social impact.
Tell us more about Gone Adventurin’! Just the name itself sounds exciting. What do you do?
We create and tell inspiring stories.
It’s all about helping corporates and brands make sustainability and social responsibility part of their business model. We immerse employees or customers into the communities where they are making an impact, through an adventure experience, and capture this story through inspiring film and media content.
We’ve found that adding an element of Adventure and Immersion to a brands Social Impact story engages a larger audience to create movements on- and offline. And we have a strong entrepreneurial network all over the world with change makers and influencers who have a deep understanding of local issues and help us create projects which are relevant and beneficial to the local community. They help us find real people with inspiring stories and enables GA to do so much more.
What is your vision for Gone Adventurin’?
The vision for GA is for sustainability to become a core part of businesses. One of our role models is Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, who is a thought leader in sustainability and creating social impact with his business. The traditional form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is taking employees to a charity or doing volunteer work for a day – while there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s so much potential to do more! And the only way to do that is to make it economically sensible for businesses.
Why Adventure as a theme?
Adventure, in any form, engages a global audience instantaneously.
For example, one of our projects was for a family business in Singapore. We took some of the employees and customers on an adventure in Sri Lanka, where they got to interact with the local communities and understand the issues that impact Sri Lanka. This helped them get a whole new perspective and appreciation, something that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the experience.
Adventure is newsworthy. This means we can offer more value by creating stories which are organically shared and covered by international press. Although we love the term “Adventure”, it doesn’t necessarily mean extreme physical challenges. It just means we want to capture an authentic experience which takes people out of their comfort zone. This can be done in many different ways.
We want to prove that sustainability can be achieved with a business focus.
So, adventure is your way of life huh! What’s your most memorable adventure with Gone Adventurin’?
The most memorable part of each adventure is definitely to connect with the locals and hearing their personal stories.
We had an epic adventure in Sri Lanka, with 10 days of cycling a total distance of 700km on hard terrain. One of the objectives of the adventure was to find solutions for poverty and creating income opportunities for the people of Sri Lanka, and we met so many amazing locals along the way, each with a different story of their own.
We met a farmer who has returned to Sri Lanka to recreate his farm after the civil war. His resilience and courage to come back and rebuild his life after the war has torn his life apart is amazing. There was this ice cream seller that we met too, who delivers and sells ice cream to the kids in the area on a simple, but weathered and rusty, single-speed bicycle. He was very happy and great at what he does, overtaking us in our modern bikes. And this was the area that was hit by the tsunami. It’s true that the most amazing stories can be found in the most unexpected places.
When we create videos for our clients, we know that to connect to our audience, the stories really need to be authentic. You can’t find authentic stories from an office cubicle. The adventure helps us bring these real stories to the rest of the world.
Here’s a video of this adventure in Sri Lanka:
All your projects have a social or environmental focus. How do you think Gone Adventurin’ can impact society and the environment?
We want to shift the paradigm from a ‘By the way’ mindset to ‘Yes we must’ mindset – that investment in sustainability is no longer an afterthought but a sensible business decision. There’s a desperate need for authenticity in this world, especially for the Gen Y who are incredibly connected – working towards creating a sustainable future.
We are the proof that sustainability can be achieved with a business focus.
Someone told us you’re only 27 this year! Has your age ever come up in your business relationships? How about the rest of your team?
Actually, our young age has been one of our biggest assets. It means that we all really know how to engage and connect with the generations that are really fuelling big online movements. We encourage companies to really use sustainability as a marketing and brand strategy, and a big part of this is online. We grew up online.
Everyone at GA is super connected – and being young plays a big part in that. We are all extremely well travelled and multicultural, who don’t see geographic boundaries but rather collaborate with global communities to push forward issues which affect everyone on the planet, and I think companies see the value in that.
It’s a really exciting time for younger generations like us to make a difference, especially now we have the support of bigger corporations on our side. That said, our board of Directors and our awesome mentors (such as Jorg Dietzel), are a much older demographic; giving us a greater insight and wisdom into conventional business strategy, internal understanding & diverse outreach concepts.
What is the revenue model for Gone Adventurin’?
We are registered as a Media Production company and consultancy, and we have a sustainable business model where we get paid by companies for advisory & consultancy, content creation and building movements online, aligned with genuine social impact and CSR.
Being a social enterprise at our core also means that every project that we do HAS to create social or environmental impact. We can create both internal & external campaigns, inspiring employees or engaging customers – or both! We work on projects as long as we can measure the sustainable impact created, and feel proud about being apart of the idea.
What is your one, big, audacious goal for Gone Adventurin’ this year, or in the near future?
I want one company from each industry to rethink their sustainability plans and become a thought leader in their own right. I would like GA to have a social and environmental impact footprint across Southeast Asia, in every single country – and we’re well on track!
Sounds like you’re set to change the world with your team. How did you meet the rest of your team?
I met Jacqui, my Co-founder & Creative Director, on the tarmac of Dili’s airport in Timor Leste, on our first project, which was based on filming the world’s toughest mountain bike race, Tour de Timor. Laura I met in Brazil, as we were both there as part of AIESEC, attending a global youth leadership conference there; and Soo, our newest team member from our home-base in Singapore, who we met through her passion for the environment and inspiring travels across the world!
We’re also honoured to have an amazing team of mentors, who are already thought leaders and experts in business and social entrepreneurship.
So if you’re ready to re-think your company’s social or environmental sustainability initiatives and put on your outdoor gear, simply drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned for more of their latest projects here!
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