What started as a surprise vacation for her significant other has led WMU student Desi Taylor on an entrepreneurial adventure that has her company, Cluventure, finding its way into Frommer’s, the Travel Channel, Practical Wanderlust and National Geographic’s Traveller. Taylor also claimed first place at this year’s WMU Pitch Competition.
When friends heard of the vacation she designed as a surprise—new clues each day led to new locations, adventures and activities—the response was promising. She researched mystery vacations and learned that few opportunities were available.
Cluventure was born.
“I think people are looking for unique and personalized experiences,” says Taylor, owner and president of Cluventure. “I just did what I love and the market presented itself.”
So just what is Cluventure? Cluventure is a travel agency that provides unique and personalized vacations with a catch. Travelers don’t know where they are going. Instead, travelers use real time clues that guide them both to their vacation destination and to activities and experiences while there. Taylor’s team books transportation, lodging and activities, and then provides clues for each step of the way.
“We are definitely a newer sector of the travel and tourism industry, and still tapping into a niche market that is mostly unknown,” says Taylor. “Frommer’s even named Cluventure’s mystery vacations as one of the trends that will shape travel in 2018, which was really exciting!”
With quick success—she and her business partner are just 18 months into the entrepreneurship adventure—came questions about operating the business. Taylor turned to WMU’s Starting Gate for help with her expanding offerings. With her business growing, she was looking for mentors and help with advertising and promotion and acquiring customers.
“Starting Gate has introduced me to some really inspirational mentors,” says Taylor. “Lara Hobson, the director of Starting Gate, has been wonderful. I’ve learned a lot from her and all of the people and resources she brings in to help student entrepreneurs.”
With a solid start, Taylor is looking to the future and continuing the Cluventure journey. In particular, the team is starting to tap into the corporate retreat and teambuilding market. Taylor also proposed a scavenger hunt for the city of Kalamazoo; a city celebration included Cluventure’s first community event.
“I could talk for hours about our plans for the future,” says Taylor. “One of the most important things I have to do is tell myself to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. I just want to get started on all these big ideas!”
Those big ideas keep Taylor’s future plans somewhat of a mystery. “I’m really passionate about everything that I’m doing right now. After graduation, I plan to keep doing what I’m doing and see where life takes me. I would love to be able to run Cluventure full-time one day, but I also really love studying the Spanish language and my second job as a private language instructor. For now, I’m just going to keep working hard and see what happens.”
And so the adventure continues.