The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Simon Burke is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
Well hello there! My name is Simon Burke and I am a Parisian who grew up in New York. My first job out of college was a bicycle tour guide, and I immediately feel in love with the tourism industry. I've done a variety of work in this industry, but in July 2021, due to the covid related downturn, I left a company I long worked for, and adored. I knew tourism would bounce back so I got to work creating my own tourism business. I decided to combine my long time passion for motorcycles with the industry I knew and loved, and started a sidecar motorcycle tour company in Paris. Txango Tours (pronounced chang-go) offers small group excursions through Paris and Versailles and really seeks to showcase local history and culture through authentic storytelling and tailored service.
What did it take to get your first handful of customers?
The tour & activity segment is absolutely saturated, so I knew something unique would be best for starting out. Sidecar tours exist already, but there are less than 50 operators around the globe. When compared to food, bicycle and bus tours, that puts sidecars in a very rare category of vehicle tours! In Paris, there are only two of us running sidecar tours in a full-time professional capacity.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
So far so good! After one season of doing business I have bought and fully paid for 2 sidecars, and have begun discussions with my dealership for a third. I'll be hiring a small team this winter, and long term I intend on growing the Paris operation and eventually opening in other locations.
What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?
My insatiable hunger for fun and action!
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
It requires tenacity to jump through all the hoops required too run a vehicle tour operation. The regulations in place are numerous, and complex. Make sure you are well surrounded by people willing to help!
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
The above mentioned regulations. This required so much more than just having a motorcycle license and getting the sidecar. It took me several months just to get insured. Since there are so few sidecar operators out there, I could not be insured as such. So I became a licensed motorcycle taxi driver, and am insured as a transport operator rather than a tour operator! It's more expensive and robust, but at least its real insurance!
How have you managed burnout thus far?
Sacrificing bookings unfortunately. This first year as a one man show I simply could not offer tours every day of the week, or every hour of the day. I made a concerted effort to keep time to be able to pick-up my kids from school, cook dinner for the family, etc. It wasn't easy and I often felt frustrated at having to split my focus, but it kept me from being overworked and regretting getting into my own business.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Arival Travel Tourpreneur Phocuswire Indie Travel We Travel and of course, Hardly Hustle!
List the founders
Me! Simon Burke
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
# of Employees?
This year, 1. For 2023 I am hiring for another 3 tour guides.
When did you start?
September 2021 I registered the business. By March 2022 I was able to welcome my first paying guests.
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
My severance from previous job, crowdfunding, and my own savings were enough to launch. I have not needed to raise extra cash since then.
Any call to action?
Hiring tour guides!