From a 9-5 job to investing in passion, 4 friends gave a new dimension to trekking

Four friends, all from information technology (IT) backgrounds wished to return to their roots. They were go-getters, having taken the entrepreneurial route often in the past. Their goal was to share their experiences in nature with others. So began Small Steps Adventures.

Techies turned trekkers

Yogendra Singh Patil was fed up. He felt trapped by an unsatisfying 9-5 job. Having grown up trekking to the Karnala bird sanctuary, he would retreat to the outskirts of whichever city he was in every weekend, trekking through the jungles or exploring places on his cycle.

An image of the founders of Small Steps Adventures (from left: Sushant Pawar, Yogendra Singh Patil (back), Ravi Pawar and Prashant Pawar. Photo credit: Prashant Pawar

“People would grow inquisitive looking at pictures of my travels on my social media and want to join me,” says Yogendra. In 2015, he resolved to start his own venture and so, along with three friends, he founded Small Steps Adventures.

“Rather than work an unsatisfying job, I thought that it’s better to work on your dreams. I decided to combine my core area with my hobby that was adventure. I got support from my friends who are my partners and we decided to take this forward,” Yogendra says.

Sushant Pawar is one of those friends who joined Yogendra in his goal. The only one working part-time with the outfit, the 28-year-old is also a senior analyst and handles the accounting aspects of Small Steps Adventures. “When Yogendra brought us the idea, we thought it was an exciting way to connect with others. Initially, I thought of it [Small Steps Adventures] as a part-time business but over a period of time, it’s become more important to me.”

Following your passion

Long before it became a business, the four friends would go for treks themselves. “We decided that instead of partying; let’s get out of the crowd and pollution,” Prashant Pawar says. Previously running his own website and software development business, he is in charge of branding, marketing and designing. “Adventure, cycling and trekking became a very important part in our lives and, realising this, we decided to share it with all.”

Trekkers themselves, the four friends decided to start their own adventure company. Photo credit: Prashant Pawar

“We started the company in 2015,” chips in Ravi Pawar who plans the monthly events/ itinerary and looks after the backend processes. “A month or two later, we started seeing good responses and feedback from the customers. Now, we do at least 2-3 treks per every week. A lot of people who come to us are from an IT background.”

People take notice

Currently, their main office is in Navi Mumbai with a client base mainly from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. Amongst the outdoor activities on offer are weekend treks, river rafting, Himalayan treks and even Bunjee jumping.

“More people are taking an interest now,” Ravi says. “We trek in the Sahyadris (Western Ghats) from easy to difficult level, mainly around Mumbai, Pune and Nashik with three camping sites, Kolad river rafting, jungle and fort camping. During summer and winter, our main business is camping.”

A lot of demand comes from Mumbai-based corporates and IT professionals looking for a break. Photo credit: Prashant Pawar

Revitalised by nature

Their work in the lush wilderness is not without its benefits. “It’s the peace and attraction that I have for nature,” says Yogendra. “It just amazes me every time I enter the jungle and mountains and see the views, even though they will be the same next year.”

“Everyone wants to do something in nature,” Prashant rationalises. “A life of targets and deadlines can be frustrating and so over the weekend, people want to go somewhere to do something fun and we help in that.”

“Taking a day or two helps in getting refreshed for the coming week,” Yogendra elaborates. “I’ve been in the IT industry and know the psyche of an average software engineer and how busy Mumbai people get. We have short refreshment trips that offer them weekend getaways as a break.”

Path to growth

“Now there is so much demand that we work with many Mumbai-based corporates,” says Yogendra. Business is burgeoning and they are now looking to expand their team of 25 with more experts in mountaineering.

With an annual event called Trekathon (a marathon and a trek) already in place, the future is a time for growth for these entrepreneurs as they plan on launching more such products, including tourism, backpacking tours and Himalayan treks.

It’s interesting to see this bunch of incredibly smart and driven people grow something close to their heart. While not trying to create anything new or different, their focus on quality and cost has helped them stand out in a crowded space and deliver a unique and special experience.

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