Simon Kanyingi Muigai, 29, is the founder of RATED Fun Ventures; a Tours and Travel Company that specialises in creatively designed tours and activities for all groups and ages. He is a firm believer that day-to-day living should be enjoyed in order to be more effective in one’s work and also lead a wholesome life. He talks to EDNA GICOVI about his love for travel and the great outdoors.
Pilot, doctor and lawyer are common career aspirations for many children growing up in Kenya. Simon Muigai wanted to be none of these. He enjoyed travelling, photography, and all sorts of adventure immensely, and hoped to be somehow involved in the tourism industry when he grew up, though he wasn’t sure what exactly his role would be once he got into the field.
He was fortunate enough to pursue a course closely related to his interests – tourism management at the Moi University. It was a relatively new course at the time. Ever spontaneous, Simon attended almost all school trips, even during exam time and still excelled. “When you do something you love, you don’t struggle much. I loved learning about tourism and generally performed well,” he says nonchalantly.
By his second year, Simon was the secretary of the Tourism Association of Moi University (TAMU), a club for tourism students at the university. He went on to be the vice-chair in his third year and finally the chair in his fourth year. Organising successful trips to Turkana and Uganda are among his fondest memories while at the helm of the club.
After his graduation in 2006, he settled for a ‘real job’ after being unsuccessful finding one that matched his passion. He worked in sales at the Nation Media Group for two years before moving to the Royal Media Services in the same capacity for another two years. Nonetheless, he continued to organise trips and travel with his friends during his free time.
After organising several trips and activities that were greatly enjoyed, many of his friends challenged him to turn this flair into a business. “At the time I didn’t think it could be bigger than a bunch of friends having fun,” he says. He took this nudge from his friends more seriously in 2009 and started thinking of a name for his tours and travel business. He also felt the need to diversify and do more than tours and travel, but at the same time retain this as the core of his business.
Race, Adventure, Travel, Explore, and Discover…
He spent time researching on what options lay in such an undertaking and at the end settled for RATED Fun Ventures. RATED is an acronym for Race, Adventure, Travel, Explore, and Discover, all of which he wanted his company to encompass. Through his company, Simon sought to produce unique, creative and affordable tours and activities that would enable people to learn, enjoy and interact while having fun.
He registered his business in September 2010. At the time he was still employed and only ran the tours and travel on a part time basis during his free time. He went on to leave employment to run the business full time in 2011. Simon was lucky enough to get a small team comprising of four of his friends who were instrumental in growing the young enterprise. Together they often had a great time brain storming and working together, which resulted in creatively designed events and tours that were enjoyed by many.
He grew his clientele who included organisations, churches and groups of friends, among others, through word of mouth and referrals initially and this went a long way into growing his database. Currently, he mostly uses his company’s Facebook group and page to publicize the various activities that he organises.
One of the most memorable trips he organised was to Sagana in April 2011. His clients travelled in four cars and he gave each group a set of interesting activities to carry out before reaching the actual destination. These included buying goods worth exactly Ksh. 87.50 in Thika town, taking a photo in Makuyu that proved that they passed through the town and making a rap video behind a dingy structure in Makutano town.
“By the time we got to Sagana, the ice had been broken. Most people on the trip didn’t know one another initially but there was a lot of laughter and excitement even before we got to our destination,” says Simon, adding that he likes to ensure that trips are exciting from the very start.