Tyson Cable is a wandering travel / adventure photographer, and the brains behind the Adventure Photo Challenge, a successful crowdfunding project on Kickstarter that’s helping him fund his travels and include people from all over the world in his adventures. His original goal for the campaign was to raise £1,000 — he more than quadrupled that amount.
Although Tyson’s Kickstarter campaign is finished, I wanted to touch base with him to learn how he set up his campaign, what went into making it a success, and see what he’s been able to do with the money he raised on Kickstarter to give some hope to all the traveling creative people out there in the world.
Covered with fire
How long have you been traveling, and why do you travel?
When I was a baby, my family – Mum, Dad, my brother, sister and I – slowly made our way around Australia for two years, starting in Exmouth where I was born, and finished in Karratha where I then lived for 14 more years. After graduating from university in Perth at 21, I travelled to over 50 countries. My first stint overseas was just shy of 2 years.
The people I meet in my travels and the percolation of nature always snaps me out of thinking too much and allows me to feel more clearly. It breaks up synoptically reinforced thinking patterns that drive emotional dead ends. It resets me. Without travel I am certain I’ll be unhappy, rushing from the day-to-day, chasing fulfillment from goals blindly created because of the unaware peer dynamic of ‘cities’.
Can you explain the idea behind your Adventure Photo Challenge? What was the inspiration?
I realized that people are like me. They want to get out and see the world. They want to live freely and to find who they are and what they really want from life, but for whatever reason they can’t. Anchored in realities like family, mortgages, income, health, or fear, they just don’t travel like this. So I started to develop the Adventure Photo Challenge to encourage them to participate and to challenge their ideology.
Everyone was invited and encouraged to participate in my travels, follow along on the journey, using the Kickstarter approach. The project combined three important elements: adventure, motorbikes, and photography. I travel and photograph the best things that I see, people follow along with me, and for a small contribution they can influence what I photograph, giving them a personal tie into the wide world of motorbike travel.
Where are you traveling (what route are you taking)?
I aim to make my way to Darwin. I will then ship the bike to Dili, Timor, to start heading west then north to mainland Southeast Asia. Once there, I’ll travel through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, then make my way to Nepal, Tibet-in-exile, and India.
I am riding a KTM 690 Enduro R 2012 offroad motorcycle customized for adventuring.
Can you give us an example of how people are participating in your Adventure Photo Challenge?
In India there will be a vote. All the participants in the Adventure Photo Challenge that supported me by purchasing photo challenge credits will be given the opportunity to choose which route I am to take to Estonia: Middle East and northern Africa; Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey; or “the Stan nations” route. The highest votes win and that will be the way I go. I intend to complete the adventure in 12 months, finishing in Estonia by April 2014.
Why did you choose to run a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter as opposed to any other crowdfunding platform?
I chose to use Kickstarter because it’s the only crowdfunding website I’d ever heard about at the time. It was easy to navigate as a pledger, and projects were easy to develop as a project manager. In fact, to Kickstarter's credit, the hardest part was the creative requirements of explaining the project whilst making it personal and credible.
Not every Kickstarter campaign is successful, and you raised more than 4x the amount of money you were shooting for. How were you able to do that?
It might seem obvious but 1,000GBP isn’t much. The cost of this trip is going to be almost $75,000AUD. This means the project is not-for-profit. I set the bar low simply because the project was scoped to only include those closest to me. It was a bare minimum target designed around participation. The limit had nothing to do with the costs involved but everything to do with determining whether enough people liked the project for me to run it throughout the journey.
How much of that cost are you covering personally?
Employment in Australian mining provides incomes well over $100,000 / year, so through saving I was able to quickly self-fund this project without the need for crowdfunding.
Tips for travelers wanting to run a successful Kickstarter campaign?
Be genuine, clearly define what your project is about, and make it appeal to the human in all of us. This is really important for people to pledge.
Create a video that’s entertaining and describes the project, its goals, and engages people emotionally. Without a video a project will not be as successful.
Make sure you set project goals that you could realistically achieve. Kickstarter offers no guarantees to pledgers that projects will succeed or that the rewards will be produced (an inherent risk of startups). Pledgers must assess the risk of the project failing, and you should respect them enough to be honest about your abilities.
Is there anything you would have done differently on your campaign, in retrospect? Is there anything you could have done to lay a better foundation for your campaign before you launched?
No. I developed and managed the project to be exactly what I wanted it to be. I’d not change a thing retrospectively but intend to change it going forward by growing what has been established and by making my participants happy for their support.
One of the most interesting aspects of your Adventure Photo Challenge is how interactive it is. You give people the option to become involved in your travels and experience some adventure in their life even if they can’t be on the road themselves. What have you learned about people and adventure through your project so far?
What it tells me about people is that if you’re unhappy and in dire need of support, generally, people will not support you. However, if you’re happy and are producing happy feelings and thoughts, people will support you because they can share in that. Everyone needs to make themselves happy. No one else can do that for you. When you do feel happy, spread it to those you can help.
What has been the strangest photo challenge you’ve received so far?
The strangest is also the best. And this challenge isn’t strictly a photo challenge either. For this challenge I must take a 40-year-old image of a family that used to live in a small Timor village and try to track them down. Since the creation of the image, Indonesia invaded Timor, killing thousands of innocent people. It is unknown whether this particular family survived since all contact was lost. I must determine definitively whether the family is dead or alive, and if alive, take pictures of surviving members.
Do you have a favorite image from your travels so far? A least favorite?
I have many favorite images. Deciding what image is the favorite is like deciding which one of your children you like the most. I often find that I like many images for different reasons, mostly because they inspire a different feeling. There is no ‘least’ favorite. Subpar images simply get deleted.
Connect with Tyson
What’s the best way for people to connect with you and stay involved in your adventures? Any additional thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
Here are some important links that you can use to find out more about the project or me:
After his first trip to Taiwan, Austin Yoder was detained by US Customs in the airport when he came through security with an entire carry-on suitcase full of tea, which TSA mistook for weed. Austin traveled into Kashmir for Yak Butter tea, and currently lives on the ground in Taipei, Taiwan in constant search of unique and funky loose leaf teas. He reviews the best of what he finds on his site http://tearroir.com and http://facebook.com/tearroir.