Tell us about yourself.
MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. SafariDeal is the culmination of a bunch of ideas to bring together the best safaris, best operators, and best locations in wildlife and adventure travel across the globe. He is always on the lookout for new ideas and products from around the safari world.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Resilience, patience, and sacrifice. Stick to your guns if you believe your plan can work. There will always be plenty of people around to tell you that you are doing it wrong. Lastly, learn to pivot quickly when you make mistakes or shit happens (Covid)
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Believe in your ideas if they are based on solid research and figures. Act quickly to take action. Focus on the things that will give you the most uplift early on. Cash flow can make or break you.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
Entrepreneurs work extremely hard, but when you have to spend time with your family, then you have to shut work off. It is impossible to get any time back, and you will regret it if you don’t.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I grew up in the Zimbabwean bush and, since then, have always had a connection with it. Travel and nature have always been part of my family, and although at times I have lived in cities, I have always travelled back to the wilderness to recharge and restore balance.
I have also always loved technology, especially the way that it can simplify our lives. I always say to my kids that they have a special power like super heroes-a mobile phone and the internet.
Myself and Clare wanted to make it easy for other travellers who share this love of nature, animals and the wilderness to plan and book trips with the people on the ground—the people who know what is going on that day. SafariDeal smashes the two things together—technology and wildlife travel.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
We connect travellers directly with the in-country experts, and we do that across the world—with the main focus being wildlife and nature. We also work really hard at building solid relationships with our suppliers. We are all in this together.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you are just starting out?
We launched as Brexit was being finalised and, as momentum was building, we were sent into COVID lockdown. Things have been pretty awful for the last two years, but we have started to see bookings and enquiries increase.
There is huge pent-up demand for travel, and the end of 2022 and into 2023 should be fantastic.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
COVID. Scale back marketing and focus on the really important bits—but do not stop. I’m sticking with it and not giving up because of COVID or competition.
What do you think are the advantages of operating your business in London?
Connectivity and access to technology. It’s good to be on GMT and have access to multiple time zones for business. To be honest, that is more of a UK thing.
Are there any issues with having a London-based business? Have you experienced these?
“No Our business, although it uses London as its base, is a virtual business which could operate just as well.
How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London, and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
Again, London is a “base” in name only and we operate mainly in Surrey. We are a lean team with outsourced agency costs, so no problems there.
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
Somewhere in Cornwall, Devon, close to a beach. It’s quieter and there’s a beach.
How has Brexit impacted your business (if at all)?
Yes. We were just starting out when Brexit happened. major impact on enquiries.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
I would like to grow SafariDeal into the best known platform for responsible worldwide wildlife travel. Along the way, it would be great to give back to conservation and to educate as many people as possible about what is going on with worldwide wildlife issues.