Pelorus is an experiential travel and yacht expedition specialist offering genuine next-level experiences to the most awe-inspiring places on Earth. It was founded by Geordie Mackay-Lewis and Jimmy Carroll, built upon their passion to explore remote regions of the world. These two ex-British Army Officers had led reconnaissance units on long-range desert patrols and helicopter operations, which forged their knowledge and set the foundation for Pelorus. Geordie and Jimmy are challenging the traditional travel and yacht sectors by putting the focus on the experience through three categories – private adventures, yacht expeditions and special projects. Rather than work to a set list of concepts, every experience is tailored to meet the expectations of their clients. As a result, no two Pelorus trips are ever the same.
Where did the idea for Pelorus evolve from?
We both met each in the foothills of the Hindu Kush whilst on reconnaissance missions. The knowledge and skills we developed during our military service is the foundation of Pelorus. We recognise that finding real wilderness or being truly shocked by something new is rare. Nothing can compare to seeing a polar bear up close, trekking across an ice glacier, relaxing on the sundeck of a yacht in the Indian Ocean or interacting with tribes in Papua New Guinea. Being able to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our clients that will be talked about and remembered for the rest of their lives is why we do what we do. We believe in showing people, the best of the planet in style and luxury. And the majority of our experiences are soft adventure with very high levels of comfort and mostly cater for the slightly more adventurous but mostly families, groups of friends and couples. The fact we are ex-Army gives our clients total piece of mind that their holiday will run smoothly and safely, but also that we have the logistical knowledge to bring luxury to any part of the world.
What does a typical day look like?
An early morning run or bike ride, no matter the weather conditions, before the team assemble in the office just after 8am. No two days are the same and the challenges of growing a team, developing new business, delivering on projects and raising capital is a typical day. As we operate on a global scale from clients to areas that we run our experiences there is always plenty of barriers such as time zones, language and logistics.
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Balancing the growth of a company, the strategic vision being tactically played out, hiring excellent talent to grow the team, taking the highs with the lows and constantly pitching to potential investors.
Have you had a “pinch me” moment since you began Pelorus?
Plenty…from some of the experiences we have delivered and the happy clients, to the launching of the company, the website a brochure and all the concepts and content we developed in two months prior to launching.
Who or what has influenced you the most professionally?
There have been many people along the journey from those in our military careers to the business world. Richard Branson is one key individual who has developed many outstanding businesses under the virgin brand is constantly striving to seek out the next project.
How much planning do you put into each expedition?
Our planning dives into our deep-rooted network of global contacts, who have an unrivalled knowledge of the most extraordinary regions and cultures on Earth. These include TV production units, private landowners, charities, scientists, archeologists, marine biologists and conservationists. Coupled with the expertise of their in-house team, we pour an unprecedented level of creativity and attention to detail into every itinerary.
We have been very lucky to work with some incredible people worldwide and our experience of working alongside indigenous people has certainly given us a cultural advantage. Coming into the travel and yacht sectors we realised that most operators use the same contacts in each country, therefore offering the same as everyone else. Our global network is very different and ranges from government agencies and jungle experts to Arctic guides. This enables us to unearth some extraordinary locations that are simply not offered by the rest of the industry and is what sets us and our clients’ experiences apart. In addition, these are the amazing people who bring everything to life and make it memorable, exciting and fun.
What is the worst business advice you have ever received?
I would say not so much worst advice but rather more advice from some people who have made it but forgot the hardships of trying to make it happen. No matter what people say the beginning stages are always hard, however they can be some of the most enjoyable as well.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned since starting Pelorus?
Surround yourself with excellent people. We have done this on many levels, our advisory board is made up of people from various different backgrounds and who guide us through the growth of the company. Our staff our fundamental to our success and finding exceptional talent to come and work for us is hard work but very rewarding when you grow that team. Our network of specialist people that we call on to help deliver our projects in the final part to the jigsaw.
Tell us about your commitment to protecting the planet.
Our planet is our business lifeline and without it we wouldn’t be in business. It’s a shame to say that some of the experiences we are building for clients may not exist in years to come as our environment and habitat change. Therefore its essential we build towards preserving as much of it as possible and we are seeing that our clients are concentrated on this effort as well. We work with two charities who support this same mantra, The Blue Marine Foundation for ocean based conservation and The World Land Trust for terra firma conservation. We aim to give 10% of profits to our foundation that we have established to feed into our chosen charities.
Are you more emotional or rational?
The military career has drilled into us to be very rational and balanced no matter what scenario is thrown at you, be it the highs and lows of growing a business or solving problems that happen on the ground when delivering client experiences. However we are humans too and believe in being connected emotionally with the team and all those we surround ourselves with. Without understanding the emotional side of humans we would fail ourselves, our staff and our clients.
What do you never leave home without?
A passport, I went to a breakfast launch for a partner company and the next thing I knew I was heading straight to the airport to fly to New York to see a client off the back of it and having a small bag with essential items meet me at the airport. You have to be ready to grasp every opportunity that comes your way. If home means UK, then I always take my laptop, small drone, camera, pocket knife, portable battery and Sat Phone (depending on where I am going). This combo allows us to deploy quickly and operate anywhere.
What’s your first thought when you wake up?
How can we enhance our client experience even more, what can we do better for our clients? Clients are at the forefront of everything we do. Then it leads onto growth and sales, the team, personal development.
If you were guaranteed the answer to one question, what would it be?
How can we effect change through Pelorus to look after the world we live in, from the human population to the natural wonders?