How two millennial techies turned their love for hiking into a profitable venture

Salwat (L) and Ishan (R) along with their core team

Salwat Hamrah, 29, and Ishan Sharma, 27, would have remained mass produced engineers racing the rat race had the travel bug not bitten them at an early age. The duo was fresh out of college and barely a few months into their professional lives, when they realised that being well-paid employees wasn’t enough. Euphoric on Friday evenings and depressed on Monday mornings – that wasn’t the lifestyle for them, they were convinced.

Salwat grew up in Srinagar, and Ishan in Jammu. Their love for countryside and adventure bloomed early on. Naturally, even after moving to city for studies and work, the mountains continued to beckon them. So, within a year of their campus recruitment, in 2014, Salwat and Ishan pulled in all the cash they had, rented an apartment, and kicked off a company that organised trekking expeditions. Their vision was to help people step out of their comfort zones, and aptly named their venture Get Beyond Limits. Three and a half years later, they are running a successful business and have organised over 500 hundred treks.

Till date, Get Beyond Limits has recruited five full time members, 50 outdoor leaders, and nearly 40 volunteers who happily shoot photos and blog on their behalf.

In its nascent stage, Get Beyond Limits organised about four treks a month, but the frequency increased to nearly 36 treks towards the end of 2017.

Snowclad memories

So, how is each trek planned and executed?

A detailed recce is done before each trek, where the Get Beyond Limits’ core team arranges the basics – food, water, and accommodation. Participants are then invited, and relevant authorities are informed. Their website is a one-stop shop to get details of pickup, packing essentials, and trek information.  An outdoor leader (a volunteer who coordinates the treks) manages the treks end- to-end right from picking up and safely dropping off the participants. Coordinating the treks also requires anticipating and managing unforeseen crises which many include car breakdown, unfavourable weather, and rare group conflicts – thus proving to be a very good exercise in developing leadership skills. Little wonder the number of volunteers is increasing by the day!

How do they put food on the table?

Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the financial risks hovering over a self-started business. So how do they keep their engine running? Get Beyond Limits’ sturdy business model yields sufficient return on investment. By their own admission, the investment wasn’t a huge figure. As Salwat is an automobile engineer and Ishan a techie, their education proved handy when they chose the DIY route while setting up their website and other social media accounts. The registration fees for the treks leave a decent margin which helps sustain the team members and volunteers. Get Beyond Limits hasn’t reached out to investors yet; but plans for expansion are in the pipeline. The team says they are keeping an open mind.

The good, the bad, and the ugly side to owing a business

Salwat and Ishan had always wanted to be their own boss and are living their dream. Better still, every weekend they manage to bring together strangers, help them connect, and function as a team. New adventures fill the pockets, and new friendships bloom among people who had never met before. People as young as eleven years to as old as sixty years partake in these treks and go back home with memories and jubilation in their backpacks. The downsides to this trade aren’t many, but they have learnt it the hard way that things rarely go the way as planned, and something or the other always gets in the way. However, once they figured out that the ideal approach is to put in the best efforts and not worry about the outcome, things began to fall in place.

Was it a cakewalk?

The conversation with parents that starts with ‘I am denouncing my stable job to start my own business’ is never an easy one. Salwat and Ishan were no exception, but their passion was contagious, and their parents could see that the two were busy doing something that made them happy. Ishan’s parents gave him a condition that if he could sustain himself without salary for 3 months, he may carry on. Luckily for him, the risk paid off and neither of them had to look back.

The other challenge was to spread the word and get more and more people to participate. They had a shoe-string budget for promotion, but social media came to their rescue. YouTube tutorials, word of mouth, and favourable testimonies from participants did the trick.

Treks in South India

What next?

Get Beyond Limits has organised two treks to the Himalayas so far and they see themselves organising treks across the length and breadth of India soon. They are also looking at ways to incorporate treks and nature trotting to build a better education system for the country. On a personal note, Salwat mentioned that he is a yoga enthusiast and Ishan wishes to be an explorer forever, and they will continue to bolster people to outspread their own potential

American author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury once famously said, “Love what you do and do what you love”. Passion is a hard thing to pursue when you have challenges clouding your head, but if you put your heart and soul into something, no goal is unattainable.  If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Get Beyond Limits is a stark testimony to this adage!