Daniel Peña, LocalAdventures: Helping Latin Americans travel around the world, Ep 161

travel localadventures

From a young age, Daniel knew he wanted to create something new, but he didn’t know exactly what it would be. His curiosity and drive led him to always have several side businesses, even as a teen when he started a (painful!) business raising bees and honey. Daniel pushed himself to try new projects, which helped him deal with adversity when starting Local Adventures, a travel startup that not only survived, but grew during the pandemic. 

7 out of 10 Latin Americans don’t travel internationally. Daniel saw this reality and he wanted to fix it. With LocalAdventures he opened up the international travel market for Latin Americans by improving the booking experience and financing instruments available.

LocalAdventures is a startup that connects travelers with local elite adventure athletes to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences around the world. It was not that people in Latin America did not care about going on adventures in other parts of the world, it was that they weren’t able to. LocalAdventures is looking to help people to travel for the first time outside of Latin America. 

In this episode, I sat down with Daniel to go through the LocalAdventures story. We discussed Daniel’s  rise from couchsurfing in Dallas when creating LocalAdventures , to building a company that against all odds grew 80% during the pandemic. Daniel also shared how the challenges that he and the co-founders faced at the beginning taught them to get used to working with scarce resources, and we also discussed how LocalAdventures was able to grow by focusing on what  clients really needed: flexibility.

From couchsurfing in Dallas to a profitable business

When Daniel left his corporate job to create LocalAdventures, he decided to participate in an accelerator in Dallas, Texas. Daniel and his co-founders decided to invest 100% of the stipend for living expenses into the business, which led them to couchsurf in a living room, and eating many meals at networking events that had free food. They survived each month with a budget of a couple thousand dollars.  This story reminded me of the interview I did with Frete’s founder Federico Vega back in 2017, where he told his story of getting his startup off the ground.

Find out more about the origins of LocalAdventures in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Finding opportunity where others see disaster

LocalAdventures was finally taking off, growing 3X per year, and then Covid hit. LocalAdventures’ biggest problem, after getting over the initial shock, was trying to figure out how long the pandemic would last, while managing cash.

While other travel companies shut down or laid off staff, Daniel and his co-founders decided to keep on doing business normally. Instead of cutting back on expenses, they talked with consumers and listened to their feedback. LocalAdventures found out that there was still a small percentage of people who were eager to book trips with the risk of having it canceled, if they could in turn get a better price for it. 

By offering flexible packages and financial instruments to help people book trips with zero or little money down, Local was able to grow during the pandemic.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how LocalAdventures thrived in the most adverse conditions. 

Providing Latin Americans with affordable trips around the world

Travelers in LatAm struggle when booking a trip, and so they end up exploring their own countries. LocalAdventures provides a more accessible experience, allowing the traveler to book a trip abroad with as low as 10% of the cost, and pay it in several months, even with no credit card and with a flexibility to change dates. 

In this episode of Crossing Borders, Daniel talks more about what makes LocalAdventures’ product so unique and compelling to the Latin American market. 

Outline of the episode:

  • [01:24] – About LocalAdventures
  • [02:01] – What is the unique solution that LocalAdventures offers?
  • [04:25] – Daniel’s background
  • [06:25] – Starting LocalAdventures
  • [08:39] – Couchsurfing in Dallas
  • [11:36] – LocalAdventures’ transition through the pandemic
  • [14:36] – How LocalAdventures grew during the pandemic
  • [16:07] – Products that LocalAdventures offers to travelers 
  • [18:25] – Building a sales-focused organization
  • [20:40] – Advice for entrepreneurs who are just getting started
  • [22:26] – Daniel’s book recommendations
  • [23:26] – Advice to Daniel’s younger self
  • [25:05] – The future of LocalAdventures

Resources & people mentioned:

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