Start-up Success: Interview with Kaya Responsible Travel

Startup Success

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We’ve interviewed Vonage customers in some of the UK’s Top 50 most populated cities to explore how location has influenced their business success. From this we’ve produced a series of four blog posts that aim to help educate new or future SME owners on how location can factor into their business.

Running an international volunteer programme across the Atlantic, Heilwig Jones of Kaya Responsible Travel is perfectly placed to tell us about how location can be crucial to business success. 30% of their participants are British students coming directly from the local university. Heilwig explains how being near a good source of potential staff, such as a university, can be key to finding the right people for your business. 

Tell us about your business in a sentence

Kaya Responsible Travel is a volunteer abroad organisation, recruiting participants to help community development and environmental projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as volunteers, interns or on faculty-led group programmes.

In which city is your business located?

Manchester, UK and Northampton, MA, USA

How has your location helped with your business success?

Being based in a university city has helped us connect with British students who form about 30% of our participants.

Did your location affect your ability to find talent and recruit employees?

Yes – we have recruited many of our staff through the university careers services.

To what extent has your location affected the competition your business faces today?

Not being in London means we do miss out on some of the activity in the capital, unfortunately, but the lower business costs in Manchester allow us to be more competitive.

What challenges have you faced in your location?

The cost of travelling to London can mean that we miss out on opportunities that come up there, unless they are booked well in advance.

Has your location provided more exposure to your ideal customer/clients?

Because we operate mostly online, our location has not made much of a difference, but we do work with some local schools and universities as a result of our location.

What factors should a potential new business owner consider when looking at a location?

Cost of premises and accessibility by public transport (not everyone has a car, especially younger staff). Transport links to the rest of the country and ability to host clients, customers and visitors are also very important.