Forbes reported that 49% of Millennials quit their job within 2 years – and we see more and more of them moving away from conventional jobs/careers. Millennials say their unhappy with traditional social institutions, mass media and the lack of social progress. They are also reluctant to trust leaders, particularly those who run companies that are not aligned with their values and political views. The same can be said about Lesego Mapeka (26) who quit his 9 – 5 to follow his passion. We chat to him about his creative agency and outdoor hiking movement ‘Epic Hikes’
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do for a living?
My name is Lesego Mapeka. I am an entrepreneur from a bizarre place called Witpoortjie, in the Westrand.
What is Epic Hikes and what’s your involvement in the business?
I am the co-founder. Epic Hikes was born from a wanderlust passion for the outdoors, adventure and the fulfilment attained in exploring them. We are excited to build a brand that is carried by many with pride.
How long has the hiking movement been around for?
June 2014 and we have not stopped since then.
How did you manage to turn your passion into a business?
Turning the passion of the outdoors into a business was almost effortless. Sustaining it has been the most challenging part. The concept of doing what you love, finding creative ways to consistently make a profit and simultaneously bring meaning, fulfilment and pleasure to all those who encounter the brand has been the most challenging part for me.
Talk us through your day to day routine.
I go to the office – any place with good coffee and Wi-Fi, then work on proposals all day. The health and fitness industry is doing exceptionally well in first world countries, but it’s taking a little longer for people to see its benefits here.
Hiking isn’t a popular activity in Johannesburg, especially amongst the black community, how has the business sustained itself?
The business has sustained itself through word of mouth, social media marketing, sponsorships and brand associations. We have managed to thrive organically and have witnessed out motto ‘your vibe reveals and attracts your tribe’ manifest itself.
What have been the most challenging bits of owning a business? Especially an unconventional business like this one?
Entrepreneurship is a challenge, especially when creating something from nothing – unconventional or not. One of my biggest challenges is allowing myself to delegate responsibilities, but I have learned that sometimes I need to let people run the business operations while I stick to the strategic part.
Having supportive friends and family has alleviated a lot of the pressure.
How do you plan on expanding the business?
We plan on expanding the company to other regions. We are currently running in Johannesburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal – headed by Bogosing Modise, and in Kurumaan – headed by Tlotlo Modise. We are planning on having our head office on a farm where we can create our own educational hiking trail, fitness facilities, as well as a camp.
What advise would you give to other young entrepreneurs who are considering turning their creative passion into a business?
I would advise other young entrepreneurs not to betray themselves and their dreams in the interest of others. We all know that entrepreneurship has its challenges, but it’s essential that you always trust yourself and the endless possibilities awaiting. Hiring the right team and working with likeminded people will determine the altitude of your business’s success as well as the depth of its impact.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year/ next year?
We are thrilled about what the rest of this year has in store for us. We have a women’s day hike in collaboration with a prestige brand happening on the 11th of August, the annual Cycle2Hike, as well as a mental health hike – with a qualified psychologist on the trail. On top of that, we are looking forward to our first brand trip to Zimbabwe, where we’ll be hiking to Victoria falls.
You can learn more about the hiking movement by visiting their website www.epichikes.co.za. You can also watch their hiking video’s on their Youtube channel.