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Journee: Extraordinary trips to surprise destinations



James Gillard, Ed Tribe, and Megha Chaturvedi

Have you ever turned up at the airport, bags packed, sunglasses perched on your head, but with no idea where you’ll be spending the next two weeks? Not many of us have. But that’s what happened when James Gillard (pictured above left) signed up to a new business idea from Ed Tribe (pictured above right) and Megha Chaturvedi (pictured above centre).

“We sent him to Indonesia for two weeks,” says Ed. “It was a big trip but James loved the concept and the business grew from there.”

Ed, James and Megha co-founded travel-tech company Journee in 2019. “We send people on exciting trips to mystery destinations,” says Ed. “People complete a 15 minute online form, which can highlight their love of the sea or the mountains or certain types of cities, then we match them to a location and send them their destination and itinerary in an envelope a week before they travel. However, around 80% of people only open the envelope when they arrive at the airport.”

So far, Journee has sent people to 52 destinations. It organises flights, accommodation and activities for groups up to four. Journee recently raised £1.75 million to scale the company. They plan to increase spend on marketing and sustaining their team, made up of 16 people. Journee is a Starling business customer.

A love of travel

The co-founders previously worked together at Depop, an app-based marketplace for second-hand and vintage clothing. “I knew that the next move would be to do my own thing,” says Ed.

He has always been interested in travelling and found common ground with his colleague Megha when she joined Depop. “She’d take a Friday afternoon off, go straight from the office to the airport, spend the weekend in Slovenia or Montenegro and fly back at 4am on Monday morning.” Megha, 33, has travelled to more than 50 countries. James, 29, also loves to explore different cultures, a passion that underpins the business.

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

Exploring different cultures

Ed says: “We want to send someone somewhere they wouldn’t have thought of themselves and offer them the chance to meet the locals. For example, in Meteora in Greece, we connect them with Dimitrios who does meditative walking tours round the monasteries. Or in Seville, we book them a dining experience at the home of a local chef, Maria.”

Plaza de Espana, Seville
Plaza de Espana, Seville

Each traveller is also provided with a guide which includes key things to see, the history of the place and recommended cafés, bars and restaurants. Most customers book solo trips or with a partner or friend, and often the tickets are a present. Trip lengths start at four days.

A bank for backpackers and businesses

Journee has been a Starling business customer from the beginning. “Starling came out top for International payments, which is everything for us,” says Ed. “It also integrated nicely with Xero and it’s quick and easy to use.”

In 2020, when travel restrictions were introduced, the co-founders applied for a Bounce Back Loan through Starling. “We started the company for people to explore cultures different to theirs and it didn’t feel right to pivot away from international travel. We never once had a discussion about quitting and giving in - we knew that travel would come back. We just had to be patient. The loan from Starling helped us keep going.”

Starling customers, both personal and business, can use their debit card to spend or withdraw money abroad with no extra fees from Starling. So if you’re planning a trip with Journee, remember to pack your Starling card.