Martha’s Vineyard entrepreneurs provide worldwide travel info

By sharing their travel experiences as they occur, Ryan Quigley (left) and John Clift hope to demystify travel. — Photo courtesy of Ryan Quigley

Ryan Quigley and John Clift knew they were on the same travel page. Paying for it was a different matter.

The two men became friends working together at Atria, the upscale Edgartown eatery where Mr. Clift is the sommelier and Mr. Quigley is a wait staffer. Both are obsessive, independent globe-trotters in the off-season, and after comparing notes they decided to join forces for a 23-destination world tour beginning late last month.

Their five-month epic will start with the Pacific rim, including stops in New Zealand, Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, and Singapore. Then it’s on to Europe, with stops in Athens, Venice, Paris, Berlin, Bulgaria, Norway (Oslo), and Reykjavik (Iceland). The journey ends with a month of R&R in California.

During their planning, the men developed a way to fund their current adventure and, hopefully, start a business that serves travelers, those planning to travel, and those who would like to reminisce about past travels via a customized, current look at places they’ve visited.

“Traveling a couple of years ago, I got to Bergen, Germany, late one night and missed the train so I decided to tent on the mountain overnight,” Mr. Quigley recalled. “Awful decision. It snowed 18 inches on the mountain overnight, nothing in the city. I’m lucky I didn’t freeze. But if I’d had real-time contact with real people, I probably would have gotten the advice to sleep in the train station as I should have.”

Mr. Clift described their goal of making information available and personal, right now, via Day One Travelers, as they’ve dubbed their enterprise. “There’s a lot of information about the adventure travel life, but most of it is virtual,” he said. “There are no people involved.”

On their website, Mr. Quigley speaks about “connecting people who are passionate about a mobile way of life,” and “demystifying the world” by “innovating the way people travel.” Through e-journals and videocasts that they will post on their website,, he and Mr. Clift “can share our trip with the rest of the world, while allowing viewers to share your adventures as well.” They also plan to make a documentary film of their trip.

To fund their trip this winter, Messrs. Quigley and Clift found a sponsor, Hurley, which makes surf and active wear, to help them do well by doing good. As part of their Waves for Water outreach program, the company will provide five water-filtration systems that the Day One principals will deliver to five water-poor communities in Asia.

The travel partners see the web linkage and increased visibility as a way to increase both their Good Samaritan work and to develop users and clients for their services in the future. “For example, Hurley is very passionate about its ‘Waves’ program,” Mr. Clift said. “We think they’ll be incented to promote our work as a way of extending their own program.”

For the majority of their funding, Messrs. Quigley and Clift turned to Kickstarter, a for-profit, on-the-fly funding mechanism where creative people can post their projects, generally arts-related, to solicit investments from individuals around the world.

Relying on the kindness of strangers worked for Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and for Messrs Clift and Quigley, Kickstarter is a straight, no-frills way to replace what venture capitalists and investment bankers call “seed money” to fund nascent business ideas. The process of securing seed money via financial investors takes months and supplicants often are required to pledge everything but their first-born as collateral.

Under Kickstarter rules, donations are held in escrow and the goal must be met within 40 days or donations are returned to senders. There is no fee for listing a project. Kickstarter takes five per cent of money raised as its fee and Amazon, its processing agent, nibbles another three to five per cent.

Kickstarter supplicants retain ownership of their project, though many, including Day One Travelers, gin up valuable and sometimes funky premiums to reward their patrons who’ve pledged between $5 and $500. Messrs. Quigley and Clift have successfully funded the expedition by raising $3,215 in 40 days.

Kickstarter clients include a former design staffer for President Obama, documentary filmmakers, a woman with a new textile processing system. Funding for individual projects range from more than $80,000 to a few hundred dollars. Donations can be made by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Another Kickstarter client is West Tisbury’s Craig Colorusso, who raised $5,846 to fund placement of 20 solar-powered music-making “sun boxes” on Martha’s Vineyard (MV Times, Sept 21, 2011) for 10 days in 6 locations in September.

Mr. Quigley is a University of Maine graduate with a degree in new media and a facility for videography and design. Mr. Clift has a background in business, mostly around vineyards and wine making. Both men believe that Day One Travelers can become a successful business.

“Yes, we feel it can be a business,” Mr. Clift said. “We want to show that adventure travel is not so daunting. We both feel it’s totally achievable and that by seeing what we do, other people will be motivated to try it.”

The men understand the power of real-time web interaction to create limitless possibilities for dialog among travelers, humanitarian projects, and culture linkage, down to individual for-pay projects, all designed to create value-added features and benefits to be translated into revenue.

A simple example? “Say you went to Corfu 30 years ago and wonder whether it will be worth it to go back again or maybe you just want to see what it looks like today,” Mr. Quigley said. “We can do that for you. Or you could use the website as a clearinghouse for a planned trip: type in your itinerary and we’ll hook you up with the people you need to know — like the townspeople in Bergen I should have listened to.”