- NEX Adventure started out as a Facebook group among adventure enthusiasts.
- The founders treated this as validation, and launched an adventure platform that allows users to crowdfund a their trips.
- It is still in beta, but the team hopes to eventually launch across ASEAN.
NEX Adventure began with a group of friends with a thirst for adventure.
To truly maximise the travel experience for themselves, the friends would self-organise the trips they went on, while trying to find the best deals for the places they visited.
But because adventuring is still tough on the wallet despite their best efforts, the trio—Adrian Lim, Adeline See and Shariman Said—decided to involve other friends from places they’re visiting on their quests.
It was during one of those trips that Adrian asked their local friend: “Why not tour groups?”
His answer was that, “I’m travelling with you as a friend, showing you around as a friend, and I get to enjoy what I love. At the same time, I cover my expenses with you guys pooling the money with me.”
His explanation resonated with the trio, so they launched a Facebook group to bring more friends into crowdsourcing adventures with.
The Facebook group has since brought more than 1,000 individuals on adventures, both organised by the friends and fellow adventurers as well.
During the group’s two-year run, the team have been seeing profits since day one. By the first month, they already had trips lined up throughout the year.
NEX Adventure reports that they’ve made a revenue of over RM500,000 in 2 years.
“We were traditional in that sense, really learning from every trip, adjusting cost, margins and processes before we building the platform. The business had to work first, then only the platform to enable the automation and then the scalability.”
As the group grew though, the trio became exhausted.
“Doing this trip manually was very exhausting and most of us had full-time jobs,” said Adrian. “There were only a few of us, so which means, we needed to scale.”
Scale they did. The group of friends eventually recruited Edward to enable the technology, and Shariman chose to commit to their new adventure full-time—which they named NEX Adventure.
If you’ve got a plan, a date and a price, you can share it on the platform and encourage people to join the trip. Others will join you on your adventure, and trip planners will get subsidised too.
Travellers can choose to traverse the more cost-effective locations in Malaysia, or even set out to explore mountains, ruins or dives all the way in Tanzania or New Zealand.
Adrian confirmed that they have approximately 20 dedicated adventure-creators at the time of writing, mostly from past trips.
In their opinion though, this is all just bringing the usual trip-planning between friends into the digital realm.
“Think about it, every group travel you do, there’s always someone coordinating, collecting the money, but they have to pay for the trip like everyone else. So this way, why not incentivise the planner, so their trips get covered by the group.”
“It’s like tong-tong. Everyone wins, the planner gets subsidised, the travellers gets best rates, and best of all, all are like-minded for adventure.”
They positioned themselves to be the Airbnb for adventure, and consider this as a fun addition to the gig economy.
In the interest of growth-hacking, the team spent more than RM100,000 on the platform, and “many sleepless nights, weekends, public holidays and we’re only still in version 1.0”.
“Since we spend most time travelling, disconnected, the platform development does sometimes neglected. But it’s operational I assure you,” said Adrian.
And based on our own observation of its reputation, what NEX Adventure may lack in breadth, they make up for in a group of dedicated travellers that swear by their platform.
Adrian thinks that this is due to the founders’ genuine passion for travel, and of course, their sense of adventure.
“It’s not really a booking platform, it’s a community of people who are looking for adventure by adventurers,” opined Adrian. “The platform is only an enabler, we have thought, prepared, trained people for the adventure. We see ourselves more as a community.”
It is called an ‘adventure’ after all, so Adrian is upfront about how you’ll get what you’ll pay for, but you never know what will happen.
“We’ve had snowstorms, volcano eruptions, sick adventurers, getting lost, failed equipment and many other unplanned events. But that’s the best part, it’s the stories, you get to tell.”
“It’s mostly 70% planned and 30% ‘adventure’, even those going back to the same place, will never have the same exact experience. It’s also the camaraderie that they make and people they’ll meet, that some will become friends for life.”
Now they’re looking to expand across ASEAN.
From the Facebook group to the platform, they’ve brought a grand total of 177 adventure-seekers, which they’ve noted is a mix of all ages to adventure experience-levels.
A NEX Adventure trip has even been featured in the Malaysian Book of Records for their trip to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas.
“It has up to date, never before been done to have 100 over persons at the base camp at the height of 4180m (higher than Mt. Kinabalu) of Annapurna Base camp. We successfully achieved it,” said Adrian.
NEX Adventure is still in beta, but the team hopes that their two-year validation, including testing the multiple ways to run an adventure, will bring the platform far.
The fact that the platform is able to run without the founders’ intervention is integral to their plans as well.
Now, they’re currently looking for funding to expand the network, so that they can get more adentures and expanding their offerings across ASEAN.
Theirs is an example of a startup that was built based on passion rather than business, and as a result, were able to run a long validation period before launching a platform. Now that the platform is up and running though, this is when the true challenge for growth and development begins for the platform.
- You can check out NEX Adventures’ on their website here.
Feature Image Credit: NEX Adventure