Indian entrepreneur Apoorva Prasad, pictured in an unexplored valley in the Indian Himalayas, is a multimedia journalist, photographer and writer, and an experienced rock climber and mountaineer
Photo: The Outdoor Journal/Anant Raina
Indian entrepreneur Apoorva Prasad wants to shake up the world of adventure travel media with his Luxembourg-based, content-driven booking platform and magazine “The Outdoor Journal”.
A passionate climber, snowboarder and adventure traveller himself, Prasad set up “The Outdoor Journal” in India in 2013 to flag up locations and businesses that don’t always get the limelight and encourage “wilderness conservation” by inspiring travellers.
At the time, he said adventure media had a very colonial bias: “It was really about white man goes to climb a mountain. The question is where are the stories coming from? What about the Sherpas? There’s so much more to tell,” he told Delano back in November.
Prasad began the project in India, where he grew up, and has many fond memories of holidaying in the jungles and mountain regions. Finding financial backing was not easy, he recalls. “To come in with an adventure travel startup and reinvent media and talk about these lofty goals, that was not what funders wanted to hear! They looked at me like I was kind of crazy,” he says.
Despite having a degree in economics from the University of Maryland, Prasad says he felt very out of his depth as CEO and even jokes he “didn’t know what the word startup was at that point”.
However, with a proven background in journalism (four years with France 24 in France, co-created men’s magazine “Maxim” in India and various freelance roles), a deep passion for his subject and a willingness to learn, he says he climbed a “steep learning curve” to lead the project on.
The magazine quickly gained readers and partners and was quoted or picked up by global media “because we were doing original reporting on news that wasn’t getting reported”.
The team also went on to create a second version for the US market. When readers questioned why the magazine didn’t organise its own adventure trips, it got Prasad thinking about the difficulties that truly sustainable adventure travel organisations had in reaching their customer base.
“At that point, I realised we had to build a platform that’s a combination of journalism as well as booking, a market place platform for people to find the business operator and book them,” Prasad said.
The beta version of his platform, which took two years to build, went live in the summer of 2017. But the project does not end there. While trying to vet the adventure travel companies the booking site would list, it dawned on Prasad that there were no regulatory standards covering important considerations like insurance and cancellation conditions.
Along with company COO Lorenzo Fornari and their small team, Prasad created criteria companies must adhere to in order to be listed. In addition, Prasad says that users can also give their feedback on providers, just as they would on a site like Airbnb. The service has been well received, most recently snagging them a €20,000 grant from Booking.com booster lab in Barcelona at the end of 2017.
The next stage in the journey sees “The Outdoor Journal” settling in Luxembourg incubator Lux Future Lab where Prasad says work is underway to create a local journal. They are also looking to expand their team of designers, editors and journalists.