Here’s something that will make you wonder why the world is so crazy when it comes to ecotoursism.
The ‘Gabby’ ecotsubway, launched by a couple of Korean businessmen in 2012, is a crowdfunding platform that uses crowdsourcing to raise money for its ventures.
The platform, which has raised more than $50 million in venture capital, has attracted a lot of attention, with many commentators calling it the weirdest thing about ecotaking in India.
But, the company itself is not so weird.
Its founders, Korean entrepreneur Dong-Joon Kang and his wife Jeong-Kyung Hwang, have been busy raising money to develop their business since 2014.
“The idea was to do things like raising funds to build the infrastructure of a new business,” Hwang told The Hindu in an email.
“It started with raising funds through crowdfunding for the project.
We used the crowd to help us raise funds to make the platform a success.”
As of the time of writing, the platform has raised $2.3 million from more than 15,000 investors.
The two have also partnered with venture capital firm Accel Partners to help them make the venture profitable, which is why they have been able to attract so many fans to the platform.
“We have a very strong team of engineers and designers who are all passionate about the business,” Kang said.
“We are a very well-organized team and we are confident that our project will be a success, and we will not stop until it’s successful.”
Gabby’s unique business modelThe concept behind the ‘Gabs’ was that the founders would take care of all the logistics and upkeep of their eco-tourism venture and then provide the funds on their own.
They would then go on to sell the tickets for $1,000, with the rest going to their business partners.
The idea came to them through their travels and was born out of an experience they had in Korea, where they visited a theme park and witnessed firsthand the crowdsourced nature of what it was like to go there.
“One day I went to the theme park, and I saw a huge number of people at the park,” Hwan-Hyun Lee, the co-founder of the platform, said.
Lee told The Hindustan Times that she wanted to bring a similar experience to India.
“In India, there is a huge demand for eco-travel,” she said.
Hwang, meanwhile, is an engineer and an avid outdoorsman who is passionate about conservation.
“I love being outdoors and I am passionate about ecology,” he said.
The duo were inspired by the eco-friendly nature of a park in Japan called Kakao, and decided to go ahead with their idea and start a venture.
They started working on the platform in February 2017, and launched the first ‘Gabora’ in November that same year.
It raised a total of $1.9 million through crowdfunding in just one month, according to Hwang.
“Gaboras’ eco-themed business model will allow us to grow the business and raise more money through crowd-funding,” Kang explained.
The couple are confident the venture will succeed and are planning to expand it to other cities in India as well.
But, the crowdsourcing model is not the only reason for their success.
“People who visit a park, they are fascinated by the nature of the park, so we want to have a platform that will inspire people to explore,” Kang added.
“This is a way of showing the world how eco-oriented people are, and that they are passionate about their surroundings.”
Hwang and Kang plan to continue raising funds until they reach the goal of $5 million in order to expand the business to other countries.
“Our company will be able to sustain itself in the future,” Hwann said.
Gabby is yet to get a deal for its inaugural trips.
“There is no deal yet, so the business is still going on,” Hwa-Yoon Cho, a member of the management team at the platform told The Indian Express.
“They are looking for investors.”
But the business could be a hit with people looking for eco tourism in India, and the couple are not stopping there.
They also plan to launch another eco-theme park in India later this year.