Providing Meaningful Adventures
Ryan Hevern, Taiwan / California, USA
What project/organization you are working on/with?
Over the course of 4+ years in Taiwan, I have worked together with my friend and business partner to establish an adventure travel company. Taiwan Adventure Outings, or TAO for short, focuses on small scale, adventurous and meaningful adventures in Taiwan. Our aim is to provide meaningful adventures not just for travelers, but for the local communities in Taiwan as well. TAO covers high mountain climbs, local hikes, aboriginal homestays, wildlife night hikes, camping, wild hot springs, and more! If it’s outdoors, off the beaten path, and adventurous, you can be sure we will help you customize your trip to Taiwan.
On top of adventures, we also host monthly beach and forest clean-up events since 2016, as well as monthly animal sanctuary volunteer events. Our largest to date is the annual Taiwan National Clean Up day, the 3rd of which is on May 25th. We have 20 locations around Taiwan cleaning up on the day, with a goal of 10 tons of trash and 2,000 volunteers. Last year we had 14 locations and managed to clean over 4 tons of trash in one day! You can see more here: https://taoutings.com/tao-causes/taiwan-national-clean-up-day/
What was your Inspiration?
I’ve had many inspirations over the years, from different moments, people, and just life in general. I’d start with my old boss, IC Founder, Marti Grimminck. She was my first insight into working for yourself, building a company from the ground up, and not to mention she opened my eyes to the world and its wonderful people! After we worked together I moved to Borneo Malaysia to work in the rainforest as a guide. One of my best friends, and one of my biggest inspirations, has a travel company there. Sticky Rice Travel. I have learned, and continue to learn, a hell of a lot about this industry and its inner workings through them. Taiwan’s incredible landscapes, people, and adventurous opportunity inspire me daily. I love getting outside to explore this country deeper, and to meet those who are just as passionate about adventure and the outdoors.
What was your biggest challenge(s)?
There are constant challenges for us to overcome. We are a small team and have to wear many hats. Communication is key, and it can be a challenge for any small start up working to scale. A constant challenge for us is making sure Taiwan is on the radar for western travelers. Unfortunately most people don’t recognize Taiwan as an adventure paradise, but it is! It has the highest density of high mountains in the world, the highest peak in East Asia (Jade Mountain), and an abundance of hikes, culture, crystal clear rivers and waterfalls to explore!
What you have found to be your best resources?
People. Whether pulling knowledge from professionals here and in other countries, working with local community leaders, government officials, etc, people provide the greatest insight into what we need to do to accomplish any hurdles that might arise in this industry.
When we first started out exploring Taiwan, and the different hikes, routes, mountains and more, we relied on blogs and books from older hikers. This helped us build a base of adventures, but we have quickly grown to customize and create our own since.
What advice do you have for your peers?
My advice is to stay focused and driven on your goals. Make them obtainable and continue to work towards them. Startups aren’t all how Silicon Valley portrays them, and I think it’s crucial to understand there will be a TON of obstacles in your path as you grow. Don’t let it bog you down. You began doing this for a reason, and always keep that in mind as you continue to grow your business, your life, and your relationships.