The UK’s most exciting start-ups inspired by founders’ travels

The fabulous stories behind the best British businesses started after trips overseas. Could travel provide your ‘big idea’?

Tens of millions of Brits will escape to foreign climes this year. And whether immersing themselves in other cultures, recharging batteries, or seeking adventures many will return with the ‘next big idea’.

Leaving routine and the drudgery of our daily lives has the habit of getting creative juices flowing. Inspired by the exotic as much as good, bad or indifferent experiences, countless British business owners have got their business ideas far from these shores.

Don’t just take our word for it. Look at the stories behind some of the most successful businesses in the UK.

Back in the 1970s seasoned travellers Tony and Maureen Wheeler decided that sharing their off-the-beaten-track travel advice seemed like an obvious idea after embarking on a mission to travel overland from Europe to Australia for their honeymoon.

Forty years on and their business venture Lonely Planet has published more than 100 million of the books now seen as travel Bibles for generations of the adventurous explorers that followed in their footsteps.

But a travel industry business isn’t the only route. Successful business couple Stephen and Juliette Wall sampled world cuisine in search of something they couldn’t get back home. When they returned Vietnamese restaurant chain Pho was born.

We’ve spoken to entrepreneurs who found unparalleled business opportunities in every corner of the globe. From travel to currency and from chocolate to alcoholic beverages, so many of the brands we love and depend on wouldn’t exist if the founders had holidayed in Bognor and Skegness rather than Buenos Aires and South East Asia.

The innovative business ideas may vary, but our adventurous interviewees all have one thing in common: each one of them used their unique travelling experience as a springboard to launch their successful businesses.

Whether they travelled around in active search of a start-up brainwave or stumbled across a life-changing opportunity, these companies have taken an idea bred overseas and brought it back to good old Blighty.

Read on to hear the stories of TV celebrity Cleo Rocos’ award-winning drinks brand AquaRiva Tequila, Frank Maxwell’s revolutionary coffee concept, and the stories behind some of Britain’s tastiest snacks and most essential travel services.

They’ve shared the trials and tribulations of taking a foreign concept and translating it into a UK success, the joy of discovering a business idea in a foreign land and have even revealed some of their top tips for unearthing a hidden gem abroad. The next time you take a holiday, open your mind and you too could be coming home with more than tourist trinkets and Duty Free tat. Enjoy!


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