Charles Odom: 2024 Update

Charles Odom: 2024 Update

Painted Circle, Founder

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.

Charles Odom is up. And...

In case you missed his story in 2022, you may want to start here first.

Charles Odom

What is your name & current role?

Charles Odom, Founder at Painted Circle

Explain to the audience what it is that you do, or if it failed, what you did do?

Painted Circle is an online travel guide that helps both travelers and travel businesses. Many people don't realize the cost of clicking "book now" on mass-market travel websites. We are fixing that. Painted Circle is making it possible for travelers to get better deals while also helping have a more positive impact where they visit.

Since you last shared on Hardly Hustle, what have you been up to?

Wow, since the last update on Hardly Hustle we've made some significant updates on our platform that have doubled down our ability make some big impact in travel. We've continued to bring kick-ass travel businesses onto our site so travelers can find them. And, very significantly, we've rolled out an affiliate program that is closing the loop in keeping traveler money where it matters: either in travelers' pockets or with local communities where it can do good things.

Since your last story, any responses you’d tweak or add to?

Last time we talked about the motivation we have to build an ethically-focused travel platform in the shadow of huge companies with much deeper pockets (Painted Circle is 100% bootstrapped and independent). I think the motivation has grown, both personally and more importantly with our many wonderful partners. Painted Circle is for travelers who give a damn about how they travel and the impact they have. I think that's more of us than we think. And I don't want you to be a bystander because we need people like you to join us.

We've just started a podcast, and one of our first chats that we recently posted is with a woman who has started an African safari company to generate funds for a school she helped establish for underserved kids in Kenya. You can't get much more impact-focused than that, and I love that our platform can be part of her ability to do that amazing work. So check us out and reach out to me directly! I'm always on the lookout for partnerships, zoom coffee chats, and feedback on what we are doing.

What have you automated or thought about automating in your day to day to make life easier?

We automate a few things related to signups for travelers on our site, as well as when we are getting traveler businesses signed up and their listings created. But automations only go so far. I'm not a fan of spam and fluff, so we keep automations to a minimum and are focused on the core of what we are doing.

What hire has made the most impact for you?

Painted Circle exists because of a collaborative effort made by passionate travel creators around the world. I've had the privilege to work with a woman in India who helped connect some jaw-dropping experiences to the site (like ballooning over Jaipur, and kayaking the Ganga), all the way to a fantastic sustainability-minded tour operator in Helsinki who is helping get more Finnish activities on the site. Our global impact will never rest on my shoulders or one person or another - it's truly a collaboration of people who are passionate about what they do.

Has your work-life balance gotten better or worse, and why?

I think this is always a challenge for most of us. Like all of you, I'm doing my best LOL. I try to flow the best I can and take advantage of bursts of inspiration when they happen. There's always something to do, but I know this is a long-term build so I'm pacing myself:) I remind myself that balance is everything - I'm not a perfect practitioner of this but I wake up ever day ready to do my best.

What’s one thing you’re bullish on or think is a good idea?

Well, I don't really like the term "bullish." I think we say it when we can't bring ourselves to say "committed." I'm committed to building our platform in a way that is purpose-driven rather than profit-focused. I'm committed to helping all those travelers out there who don't want to be sold to by mass-market copy/paste websites just to follow a trend.

I'm committed to those who are seeing genuine experiences and want to use a platform that doesn't take a cut of everyone else's hard work. I've been working in travel for more than 15 years and I know the people who build great travel products are in it for a purpose and a passion - and I don't see that changing.

What is one business tool or resource you can’t live without?

As a bootstrapped operation I'm always trying to use free tools when I can. Canva and Airtable are favs of mine. Canva has given me a great way to make some visually-impactful presentations and has a decent amount of functionality in their free version. Airtable has some functionality that is great for working with teams. It's a good compliment to programs like Asana for project management and thought organization.

What is one "life hack" or one tool in your life, personal or professional, that has made a large impact?

I always felt pretty bad about myself because I am a terrible multitasker - I can't listen to more than two people talking at the same time, if the music is playing I have to hit pause before someone speaks, and I get bogged down with countless open projects if I try to juggle.

My life hack is that I am learning to lean in to who I am, and I don't try to multitask. I like to focus on one task and one person at a time. I'm ok if I'm the only one in the room who never says "killing or crushing it." I've been most inspired by others who are unapologetically themselves, and that's what I am working on myself.


# of Employees?


Current revenue?

Not provided.

Projected revenue?

Not provided.

Any call to action?

Let's cross promote - our affiliate program is something we are really excited about - it's a way for promoters AND nonprofits to earn from our website. If you have automations like purchase confirmations, newsletters, etc. we should connect! If you love travel - check out and get connected. And reach out and let me know what you think and if you have had great travel experiences before that we should add to the site!

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