I’ve got a big announcement… And I’m going to tell you about it, and I’m going to do it in my typical overly-honest way.
In 2010 I started a wordpress blog. In 2011 Carrie and I took our millions of miles (and little else) and booked a oneway ticket to Asia.
We really had no idea where that journey would take us. If you’ve followed along, you know that it took us all over the world. That journey – of full-time globetrotting and living in hotels for years – was nothing short of fantastic!
A story for another day, but to make it short, a few years ago we moved to Austin. During our time in Austin, we focused more on other businesses, for instance the tech start-up you may have read about on this blog.
However, recently I decided to make an effort to make Travel Is Free great again.
We updated the majority of our Resource page – including resources ranging from the Complete Maps, Delta Miles Calculator, to the Best Hotel Rewards Program InfoGraphic (which I recommend checking out). And obviously I wrote a lot of new posts as well…
To be completely honest, I’ve found it pretty difficult to create high quality posts and tools at a meaningful rate. I’ve just never had a desire to write posts that others have already written, and worse, I hate writing a post that someone (or a ton of people) have already done a better with.
My approach has been to try to find unique content, data driven posts, and to build new tools.
The good news is I have close to a zillion ideas to build out.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t always made a lot of sense to continue to pay my data guy to keep collecting data for my tools… But I did it anyways because I enjoy doing it. I just limited the number of tools I created.
Super unfortunately, looking at the numbers, I continued to limit the number of these projects I enjoy so much.
My goal has been, is, and will always be, to create awesome resources for people… And for myself.
I want to build things I’m eager to use.
I knew I wanted to take a new direction (in the wake of our tech startup ending (pausing?)) and I had a number of options in front of me…
But a few months ago I had a conversation with Brian Kelly (the CEO and founder of ThePointsGuy.com) that changed the course for me.
Talking to Brian I felt that we had the same goal for my future: to create increasingly useful products.
I walked away from that meeting feeling / knowing that working with him, TPG, and RedVentures, was the best place for me if creating useful products is my actual goal.
I have dreams of building awesome tools, big and small. And I knew this was the only place that would give me the chance to create not only all of the small tools, but 100% certainly the only place that would give me the chance to work on moonshot projects.
As of this week, I’m an employee of RedVentures / TPG.
I’m working in the tech office in Austin and am excited to work on some interesting ideas already started and some to come.
What does this mean?
What does this mean for me and travelisfree.com?
For me, it means I get to work on some awesome new tools (and obviously having a stable income is appealing).
For travelisfree.com… Well, that’s currently up to me.
My hope is two things.
Hope 1) From reducing my work load to a single job, instead of a few businesses, I’ll be able to focus more on miles & points stuff… And hopefully have more time on my hands.
Hope 2) That I’ll be able to work with someone at RV willing to give me a little bit of additional resources for small tools and keeping my resources page updated.
Either way, I view this as a win / win.
Hopefully I can create small products (similar to the ones that I’ve been making) that feed into the databases and bigger tools that I’ll be helping create with Red Ventures. That would be the ideal win/win, and a place I hope to get to soon.
Here’s a crazy idea…
I recognize that a lot of my audience views TPG the same way coffee connoisseur’s view Starbucks. Some friends have felt that I’ll be in a corporate environment that will limit my ability to make creative products and make autonomous decisions.
And maybe there are those who just don’t like TPG and therefore will project their own feelings on me and Travel Is Free…
For that I have two responses.
1) Maybe (and this idea is real crazy), just maybe, the critics should wait to see what kind of content and products I create.
That is, that I should be judged based on the quality of the work I do, not who funds it and who I associate with. This way, critics can wait to be informed before complaining… (I told you it was a crazy idea!)
Right now my posts are pretty limited, so any increase is a benefit. And I personally will only create content I think is great, or I won’t last. That’s just my personality.
2) I know from talking to Brian Kelly that he really cares about creating content and tools that are actually useful to users.
If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be interested in hiring me (and others like Richard Kerr) and he wouldn’t care about the same tools I’m interested in… But he is.
I personally feel creating interesting content at high frequency is incredibly difficult and that’s what his hires are about.
But honestly, I don’t want to debate RV and TPG… I want us to be judged by the products we’re aiming to create.
For that, you have to see them first.
The only thing I care about is creating useful content, tools, and products.
I truly hope RV will trust my product sense enough to empower me (and the new tech team) to create genuinely interesting things. I hope I’ll have the ability to make a positive impact on any product I work on and I hope I’ll have the ability to pursue good ideas (especially small ones I can do myself).
It is a corporation, and I am one of many. That was my fear going in… And what’s funny is, before I met with Brian those months ago, Carrie and I talked and were 90% sure we were going to decline any offer made. But after our meeting, I knew I wanted to join.
Brian didn’t pitch me. If anything, I spent half the time talking about things I want to build.
What was clear to me is that he shared the same vision for tools and products moving forward, and ultimately, I felt like this is a place I could make a difference.
Since I’ve only had one day of work (which was majority filling out on-boarding paperwork), I haven’t been a part of actually creating anything yet.
But when I/we do start creating thigns, I want to be judged by the quality of my work. In fact, I invite judgement there.
For that, we have to wait and see. 🙂
The other thing I’d say, is that this site is my baby and those who have supported me all along the way are also a part of the awesome globetrotting journey we’ve had.
This is where I learned how to come up with unique ideas and what people actually enjoy. And you guys have shown tremendous support and love for my approach – which I’d define as a journey of learning to find and execute unique ideas.
That’s exactly what I want to continue doing…
I don’t give a dern about critics who have judged me on my associations… But I do care about creating something useful, and you guys are the judge of that.
That being said, I invite judgement and feedback for anything I create. And honestly, I hope to make all TIF supporters proud!
For those of you who appreciate what I’ve done so far, I thank you for your support! Truly!
And I hope you love whatever we create next.