The Piper Podcast: Inexperience – and a selfie – helped Flash Pack disrupt the travel industry

Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson, co-founders of Flash Pack, have told how inexperience of the travel sector proved to be a key component in helping the brand to disrupt the $8.8 trillion industry.

‘It’s an advantage not to have worked in the industry which you want to disrupt because you apply a different approach to problem solving,’ says Vyas in Piper’s third season of ‘How I Grew My Brand’ interviews with leading entrepreneurs. ‘You’re not encumbered by preconceived ideas or the status quo of how things “should” be done.’

Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson founded Flash Pack in 2014, having previously worked in the charity sector and photojournalism respectively. They met on a dating website, brought together by their shared love of travel. On their first date, Vyas mentioned her idea for a travel company providing group adventures for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s – a previously untapped market.

‘We then spent the next two to three weeks together going on dates but actually researching the travel industry,’ Thompson tells broadcaster Mary Nightingale. ‘We went to an adventure travel show, went to the library and read up on setting up a business and planned a trip to the most adventurous location we could think of – Sierra Leone – to see if our relationship could survive it.’

It did. Vyas and Thompson, now married with a daughter, have grown Flash Pack into an award-winning company. The brand, which employs 55 staff, has sent more than 12,000 travellers on exotic holidays to 70 destinations worldwide.

But the couple recall how the business almost folded after seven months. With one final throw of the dice, Thompson spent Flash Pack’s remaining funds flying to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he climbed the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and took the so-called ‘Selfie with Jesus’ – footage the co-founders released two weeks before the 2014 World Cup. The story went viral, resulting in 1.1m visits to the Flash Pack website and hundreds of bookings. ‘We’ve built our entire business from social media,’ says Thompson.

Piper’s ‘How I Grew My Brand’ podcasts launched in 2018. The third season focuses on the challenges faced by co-founders. The first two seasons have featured interviews with PROPER co-founder Cassandra Stavrou; Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley; Neom Organics’ co-founder Nicola Elliott; Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge and Deliciously Ella’s Ella Mills. All  previous episodes can be streamed on or downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.