Many people who have had the privilege of travelling at a young age know that it is the most intense, life-changing and exciting thing you can do at this age. You see the World’s history, you drink more alcohol than is recommended by health authorities, and you meet amazing people from all corners of the globe. However, many young travellers have suffered from a common, tragic experience: you head down to your hostel bar ready for the night and as it happens, meet some people who most likely speak a different language to you. You talk, you laugh, you drink, and you head out to the town with friends who you never would have met if it weren’t for the fates placing you in that same hostel. But the next morning they’re gone, and you’re left with nothing but memories. All you know is that Mathias is from Paris, or Anna is from Rio. You wish there was a way you could find out where they’re heading and whether you could meet again for another night of drinking and multi-cultural good times.
Enter Charles, Lucas and Mitch who are the answer to your prayers in the form of the app they have founded together, Tenderfoot. It’s not only a brilliant idea, but the passion these 3 Adelaideans share which drove them to develop the app, is inspirational. Talking to them at first felt like having a beer with 3 guys who decided to make an app together. By the end, I was talking to three very impressive, business-minded men who share a passion for seeing the world, and encouraging us all to communicate like we used to. It’s social media with a twist; a social network that you can only be a part of by first meeting someone face to face.
Each of these guys have undergone the ‘21st century right of passage’ - as Lucas put it - after high school, setting out to see the World both solo and with their mates. They admit it’s not something everyone can do, but something they have all been privileged to experience.
“When we were travelling we discovered the niche for the app, where we wanted to do certain things but didn’t have anything that could do it. We were going out to bars and meeting people, having a good time, but when you wake up in the morning you have no idea who they were and they’ve left hostel,” said Mitch. Sounds like a one night stand to me…
“It’s a way of connecting with people without any Wi-Fi and data. It cuts through all the personal stuff on Facebook and Instagram, so all you do is make the connection and see their basic profile, what city they’re in, and keep in touch with them while travelling and when you get back home” added Charles.
“The travel industry currently lacks a social network that is designed purely for travellers. Tenderfoot stems from how we travel, and what we travel with,” said Lucas.
Thinking it sounds a bit like Tinder? So did I. Never fear, Tenderfoot is far from the creepy swipe left and right judgement system. Charles explained that you have to be within inches of someone else’s phone to connect, and that you have to have talked to them long enough to get to asking if they’re on the network. However, he hopes that one day relationships might spawn from a connection that began on Tenderfoot. “Our goal isn’t to create babies; we’re not here to procreate” he disclaimed.
“We’re bringing back the face-to-face connection. It’s our mantra…”- Charles
And then I asked myself (and them), why make an app? We all think we might have a super original idea that Facebook will want to buy for $1 billion. The guys’ motivation to make the app is driven by their incredible passion for travel and encouraging the world to connect.
“On a fundamental level, away from the personal, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and globalized. Anyone who has travelled and has the ability to adapt to and understand other cultures and the way other people live is supremely advantageous in any facet of life” said Lucas; is your mind blown yet?
All of them have had incredible experiences all over the World: Europe to Asia, the snow to the beach, Oktoberfest to the Gobi Desert. Safe to say they have all been bitten by the travel bug.
“Travel shapes who you are. The way I think about things is completely different to how I thought about them 18 months ago before I travelled,” said Charles. Lucas added he thinks travel “fosters independence, and it’s one of the most important things you have to learn growing up”.
“One of the biggest problems for youth today is that we’re not able to cope when things don’t go our way. Travel is the best way to become an independent thinker,”- Lucas
Mitch agrees it opened up his eyes to the world and kick-started his aspirations at a very young age.
Their passion for travel, and the unforgettable experiences they’ve had meeting citizens of the globe is what gave them the idea for their app. “It’s all about fleeting encounters, and that’s what the nature of travel is. You build relationships with people over a really short time and then you move on. People seek the ability to put that special encounter in a point in time” said Lucas.
Don’t be thinking that these travel-addicts are Adelaide-haters- they are quite the opposite. Despite having seen the World, these boys love the vibrant culture we have here and will always call Adelaide home.
Lucas elaborated; “At the moment Adelaide is a hidden gem, and I hope that changes and people understand that there’s a lot to offer here. During February and March Adelaide is the best city to be in in Australia by a mile, and that’s indisputable. If you try I’m going to tell you wrong”. Well, we're not arguing with him.