Article by Malini, founder of F5 Escapes.
It has been 3 years since I started F5 Escapes and 2 years since we started #JustGo at F5 Escapes. The first edition of JustGo back in March 2014 was a great success. People thought it was one off. But looking at our doggedness, some have been coming up to us with the following questions:
‘Why are you doing it? What’s the ROI?’
‘Why wouldn’t you make it big and flashy?’
‘What is in it for you personally?’
‘There must be something else!’
‘Why don’t you try selling F5 trips there? It would be an awesome platform!’
‘Can I sell my stuff?’
‘What’s in it for me? Will you pay for me to come and talk?’
We have time and again taken every effort to explain what we are trying to do and how crazy we are about spreading the message of travelling in India. We have had over 50 incredible travelers with stellar profiles – photographers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers etc. saying that they are happy to support us build this community that we dream of, by sharing their travel experiences.
One of the best networks that we have created for ourselves is our ‘JustGo’ network across the country. Most people would envy us for that. It is more valuable than money. I strongly believe in the concept of ‘delayed gratification’. When we do good, it generates more good in many ways. And some of the good will come back to us eventually, as we started the ripple. good is not measured just in money, but also in terms of good will, in terms of credibility.
I personally want F5 Escapes to be known NOT for how rich we became, how much investment we raised, how much we made in revenues and profits. That is not the role model I want to set. There are enough in the startup ecosystem doing that.
I personally want F5 Escapes to be known for the number of lives we touched, the number of ladies who let go of their pains and worries travelling along with us, the number of men who started vehemently believing that the women in their lives deserve a break too (yes we have successfully converted quite a few!), the number of people who took up to travel or started spreading the message of responsible travel, thereby changing the travel industry and the country for good. And I want these numbers to be nothing but gigantic. In the process, if I am able to keep my sincere, hard working team and our mentors/advisors very happy, motivated and content, pay my bills, save to travel and learn more and keep doing what I am doing for the next decade, I will be more than happy.
In a world of crony capitalism, ‘slow’, ‘steady’, ‘sustainable’ are strange and weird words. But we know we wouldn’t want it any other way. And oh yeah, we have found our ways to do exactly that and work it out somehow. We will eventually redefine not just the way women travel in India, we dream of the day where we would have redefined how travel is perceived and consumed, how travel businesses are run, how we would have played our role in making our world, our country a better place to travel in.
Money will be a consequence in this positive change. JustGo is a small dream towards that change.
The real selfish motive of mine here is this – bring more men and women together on a platform where the show organising team has a majority of well traveled girls. The possibilities of all the awesomeness that could happen if more and more girls traveled this country without fear and inhibitions. How men could immensely contribute towards that positive change.
JustGo has given F5 Escapes and each one of us, the love of several awesome folks, goodwill and credibility that no flashy, high profile event would have given us. We spend very little, we don’t sell as a principle and we take back the best non-monetary ROI anyone can ask for. We cut out the glitz and glamour; relatable, inspirational travel content is the only king here.
The upcoming just go in Mumbai is touching 1000 RSVPs, 2 weeks ahead of the event. For the record, we have not run even a single ad campaign for just go till date.
As Rajnikanth rightly said once, ‘Idhu thaana serndha koottam. (‘this crowd just happened on its own’) And NO, we will never sell our email database. Sorry. If you are someone who can help us make this pie bigger without looking for instant returns and looking at a bigger picture win-win for all the parties involved, we will be happy to talk to you.
If you wish to volunteer to help us with video-recording the event, sharing your stories, spreading the word etc., we will be happy to accept that too. As a barter, you will go home richer with a new set of amazing acquaintances and travel gyaan. You will have the fulfillment of helping another person take that step to travel and expand his/her boundaries. Believe me, that feeling is just something.
For the love of communities. We are grateful and we will march on.”0