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Julia Fintz (MBA 2008), Co-Founder of Lekker Adventures

What do you do when you can’t find the sort of specific travel experience you’re looking for? For MBA alumnus Julia Fintz the answer was obvious – she started her own company.

Julia Fintz

Julia Fintz

Having visited more than 70 countries between them, life-long friends Julia Fintz and Bernita Lewin became frustrated that the specific type of travel company they wanted didn’t seem to exist – so they set up their own. Lekker Adventures is a London-based luxury adventure travel company offering active and exciting holidays – but with a level of comfort. “Lekker” is South African slang for “amazing” or “awesome”, and Julia thinks it perfectly describes the types of trips they arrange.

“Our customers are people who want to do something a bit more exciting with their time off work, and are looking for luxury services and accommodation,” says Julia, who completed her MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School in 2008. “I spent much of my 20s backpacking, but now I want to do the same type of travel but in comfort. My holidays are also typically shorter and I have less time to plan my trips, and I couldn’t find a company to arrange the kind of trip I was looking for. Most luxury travel companies favour big resorts, and booking a trip with an adventure travel company usually means you end up slumming it. We deliver something in the middle – off-the-beaten-track travel in comfort.”

Having carved out a successful career in banking programme management, working for blue-chip companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, Julia and travel expert Bernita left their jobs last year and used their own funds to launch the company.

“Travel has always been my passion,” says Julia. “After completing my undergraduate degree in South Africa, I travelled around the world. It was such an eye-opener and it sparked my love of exploring. I’m fascinated by new places and cultures that are different to mine. I feel most alive when I travel, preferably to off-the-beaten-track destinations, experiencing local culture and getting to know the people.”

Launching a new business in a completely different sector has been a massive learning curve for Julia. Although planning is important, she points out, one of the most important lessons she’s learned is that sometimes you just have to go for it and learn by doing. Immediately after launching the business, Lekker Adventures ran their first small group trip to test the water.

“It was a great success,” says Julia. “We also got some really good feedback about what worked, what didn’t, where we could have spent a bit more time and a bit less time, which helped us with the next trip.

“I think we’re all conditioned to spend a lot of time developing perfect products and services but in our experience it’s best to test the market as quickly as possible, as the things that you think will work aren’t always the things that actually work best.”

Having run its first South African group trip, for Cambridge Judge alumni, Lekker Adventures is now offering both tailor-made and small group holidays to destinations from Bhutan to the Galapagos. For Julia, it’s the beginning of the latest adventure – and she has no regrets about leaving the safety of the corporate world for the wider world of travel. “Life’s too short,” she says. “This is always what I’ve wanted to do. I’d advise anyone thinking about following their passion to just go for it.”

Julia is interested in hearing from…

…people who are in the travel sector or involved in entrepreneurship – it would be great to share lessons learned and see if there are opportunities to collaborate.