There are many reasons why we keep travelling and wandering from place to place. But like one of my favourite authors, Alain de Botton, points out in his book The Art of Travel, our travels “expresses, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of constraints of work and the struggle for survival”.
The real beauty of travelling is also revealed when we can make a difference in people’s lives, and this is exactly what Storyteller does.
The business founded by Bhavesh Patel builds travel accessories that inspire people to travel more and uses a share of its profits to fund educational programmes, helping less fortunate people around the world.
Storyteller is not a charity. It’s a start-up that is certainly giving an inspiring definition to the meaning of travelling. Be prepared to be inspired to!
Midlands Traveller: Tell me a little bit about your background in business.
Bhavesh Patel: Although I practised as a lawyer for a number of years, I always had a huge passion for business. Even within this role, I led various business development campaigns which allowed me to work with global brands.
I really started to enjoy this side of the job, and suddenly the goalposts started to move. I decided to pursue my passion for creating my own company.
To create any business, however, having an incredible passion for what the company does is important, so I combined the two things I love and was most passionate about, travel and giving back to create Storyteller.
Even though I did not have any experience in running my own business, being a lawyer and part of an organisation where I was able to connect with global brands really helped.
I was able to use my transferable skills such as marketing, negotiation, drafting documents and keeping accounts that I had built over the years, to help me set up the business.
MT: How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
BP: Along with having an interest in business, I have always been very involved in volunteering for charities. From career workshops, and days to running pro-bono legal advice clinics, giving back to others has always been an important part of my life.
It was then however one day, whilst listening to the podcast “School of Greatness” (Lewis Howes) that a quote from an interview with Timothy Sykes really stuck with me. Timothy said:
“It’s great to volunteer, but if you truly want to make an impact, you have to think bigger to make a big impact.”
That was it. I needed to think about how I could make a bigger difference to the global problems I was passionate about.
Once I started looking into this, I found incredible social mission companies such as TOMS, Patagonia and Warby Parker who were creating great products, but each product was helping to make a direct difference in the world.
That is where the Storyteller model came from, 10% of each product sale goes into our fund, which goes directly towards helping fund sustainable educational programmes for those less privileged around the world.
MT: Tell me about Storyteller’s mission and what products and services do you offer?
BP: We build travel accessories that inspire people to travel more and help fund educational programmes around the world.
We want to inspire people to travel more and share how it not only helps us discover the beauty of the world but also overcome our fears, set forth and achieve anything we want in life. We believe travel is the platform of every successful person.
While travelling shows us so many positives, it also gives us a first-hand perspective on the world’s problems. Right now, 750 million adults around the world are illiterate. Given the resources we now have, we believe this simply should not be happening.
It is, therefore, an integral part of our company to make a direct impact on this problem. We do this by using a share of our profits to fund educational projects which help those less privileged access quality education.
Each year, members of the Storyteller team also fly out to a chosen location, to volunteer on projects by teaching, renovating and assisting educational programmes run by our charity partners and local NGOs.
Our travel accessories also help to inspire people to travel more, especially our flagship product, The Storyteller FlagMate.
Flagmate is a keyring made from faux leather, to which you attach hand-painted flags from each country you have visited, with the added option to engrave your special memories/dates to the back of each flag. FlagMate helps to capture all of your travel memories and keep them by side.
Our products are all sourced and handcrafted locally, in our hometown of Birmingham!
MT: What is unique about Storyteller?
BP: There are 2 key unique offerings that we have and, are most proud about. Firstly, our range of travel accessories are unique concepts and differ from the travel accessories that are already on the market. Each product is also made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, organic cotton and faux leather.
We are proud that our range of travel accessories also has a purpose. Each purchase is helping to make a direct difference in the world, and the customer can feel like they are doing their bit towards helping fund sustainable educational projects for those less fortunate.
MT: What are the challenges of a business like yours?
BP: The challenge for us going forward is to continue impacting individuals around the world and helping them access quality education, whilst also positioning ourselves as a top travel accessory providing and ensuring business growth.
MT: How do you choose the products available on your website?
BP: We want to be different as a brand and create travel accessories that are unique. To do this, we ensure our products are beautifully hand-crafted, and made using durable and innovative materials.
We are passionate about researching and finding the best sustainable materials for our products to ensure we are doing our bit to support an environmentally friendly environment.
Before launching, each product is tested by our team and Storyteller Community to ensure all improvements are made.
MT: What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining the Storyteller community?
BP: We are always excited to hear from passionate travellers from around the world who want to join our mission to inspire people to travel more and do good!
Whether you are a travel blogger, or simply enjoy travelling the world, we would love to hear from you! Simply drop us an email at email@example.com expressing your interest and we will help you learn about all of the ways you can join us!
Or simply visit this link which has all of the details about how you can get involved!
MT: What advice do you have for people who wish to create their own business?
BP: 1) Have a full-time job and work on starting your company in your spare time until you are ready to make the complete jump! By doing this, you will have the financial input to put in at the start and also income to fall back on as most companies won’t make profits immediately.
2) Pick the right team/business partners. If you are starting a business with a team or with a business partner, make sure that you complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, rather than just basing it on being good friends. Bringing different skills to the table in business is super important and will hold you well in the long term.
If you are starting a business as a solo entrepreneur, or ‘a solopreneur’, having positive people around is essential. They can help bounce ideas but also help out with marketing activities at the start which is when you could do with a first push in the right direction!
3) Use your travel experience! The most competitive companies today are global in nature, and to make your company, service or product relevant to new markets. You need to have a global mindset. You can read about world markets and study analyst reports, but there’s no substitute for indeed experiencing the world yourself.
4) Create a company which is based on something that you are genuinely passionate about, in the long term, and this will make getting out of bed much easier!
MT: What country or city is your travel bucket list?
BP: We are going to India and Nepal next! This is our annual Storyteller Impact team trip! We will be visiting part of India and Nepal to help build, renovate and teach those children from less privileged backgrounds and help them access quality education!
We are kick-starting our trip to Delhi (from 22 April) which will be followed by Kathmandu, Nepal! If you want to follow our journey, follow us on social media, especially Instagram where will be sharing all on our Instagram stories- @Storytellerteam
MT: What are the next steps for Storytellers?
BP: Although Storyteller is not a charity, we want to be part of a wave of new start-ups that are proving that having a balance between profit and philanthropy can generate a positive outcome for all individuals involved, and I believe that this will be an integral part of a business for years to come.
We are aiming to add six new products to our existing range, all of which will be made from Eco-friendly materials, built to the highest quality for travellers around the world.
My long-term vision is not just for Storyteller to do good as a brand but to bring together passionate travellers from around the world in unity with a mission to do good in the world.
Follow Storyteller on Social Media