Q&A: Travel start-up leaves its customers in a better place

This week’s Q&A is with Vickie Helson, founder of HyperFit Travel. After 17 years in the tech industry left Vickie mentally and physically burnt out, she determined to create a business that provided people a healthy outlet and now offers her clients a holiday for both their body and mind in Southeast Asia.

ISB: What was the “light bulb moment” that persuaded you to turn your passion for travel and fitness into a business?

VH: Ha! It was more like a “brick to the face” moment! My career for the past 17 years was in the technology sector, which resulted in an ugly burnout in early 2017. I nursed myself back to life with the help of a team of medical, health, and fitness professionals, as well as the support from my partner, friends and family.

I learned a lot during this process, which helped me to make the leap and immerse myself in healthy and inspiring work. After noticing a gap in the market for a holiday offering that leaves you feeling energised, I established HyperFit Travel to create fun and unique fitness holiday experiences.

ISB: Having worked in the tech industry for some time, how difficult was it making the shift to the travel industry?

VH: I didn’t find it too difficult. But one of the ways it was difficult is that I had no network in the travel or fitness industries. So that is something I had to start building from scratch, and I’m still on that journey. I’ve met some fantastic, helpful and inspiring people so far.

ISB: And, conversely, in what way has your tech background helped you on your new business journey?

VH: My skills and experience in designing great products, creating the best customer experiences, and managing people and resources directly translated to my own business, so I’m lucky in that respect. Also, I had spent the past seven years working in tech start-ups, so being scrappy and innovative is in my DNA!

ISB: What challenges did setting up and running the business remotely present, and how have you overcome them?

VH: It’s pretty straightforward really. Everything is online these days. Also, I’ve had a lot of experience working in internationally-dispersed teams and working remotely myself. The biggest challenge so far was getting the business bank cards to Ho Chi Minh City! (The post is not very reliable in Vietnam).

ISB: What do you consider to be the most important lesson/factor a business should take into account when it’s going to be remotely run?

VH: You really need to factor in how much your business travel will disrupt your personal and professional life. I’ve found that days and weeks slip by so fast when you are living from business trip to business trip. So, you need to keep your exercise and food in check, rest, schedule your time well, and be flexible. Your partner’s support is key.

With HyperFit Travel I am perpetually running the business remotely. Whether I am hosting a retreat, in my office in Ho Chi Minh City, or back in New Zealand or Australia, I’m always running the business remotely because my retreats and vendors are in Asia, but my customers are predominately on either side of the Tasman. So, I am always “away”, even when I’m not!

ISB: Finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d give to those thinking of starting their own business from their passion or idea?

VH: Start now. Today. A lot of people are waiting for the “right” time, for permission, for the confidence, the money, the support, less risk. They are afraid of failing and that fear holds so many people back. In the end it comes down to you making a single decision to start, and then leaping in.

Momentum is more important that perfection, so just build that plane while you’re flying it. Embrace the journey, with all its highs and lows, freedom and uncertainty, and be brave.

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