MEET: Matt Wilson, Adventurer in Residence & Cofounder Under30Experiences

Matt has the ideal job: he spends his days traveling and helps other people do the same with Under30Experiences. He also co-founded Under30CEO, a site dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs live life to the fullest.

Why did you start Under30Experiences? Was there a specific experience that inspired you?

After spending my first several years of my career sitting in front of a computer working on an internet startup, I decided it was time to get out and see the world.  I took a random trip to Iceland and standing on top of a glacier my perspective on life completely changed.  I simply asked myself, "Why were all of my peers stuck at their desks during the prime of their lives?"

Just two months later, we ran our first Under30Experiences trip to Iceland with huge success.  People had the time of their lives seeing such a unique part of the world and connecting with like minded people.  From there I took off and have been traveling around the world for the last 2.5 years.  Bonjour from Paris today!

Can you explain the difference between a travel company and an experience company?

Travel companies usually specialize in tours, bringing you to see the major landmarks, or stay in westernized resorts where you never actually leave the premises to see the country.

We describe U30X as "an experience company" because we curate itineraries that allow for people to share some of the most meaningful experiences of their lives together. It might sound corny, but when you are standing on a retreating glacier, learning about the effects of climate change in one of the most naturally beautiful areas of the world, you'll remember that setting and the new friends you were standing next to for the rest of your life. 

What do you think youth brings to the travel experience? Why is it important?

 Travel to the Green Lifestyle in Costa Rica with U30X

Travel to the Green Lifestyle in Costa Rica with U30X

One of the most unique parts about Under30Experiences is that our travelers age 21-35 are usually at a very similar point in their lives.  Their youthful exuberance leads to active trips like zip-lining in Costa Rica, skiing in Alaska, or hiking a volcano at 3am in Bali.  It's not that old people aren't capable of these things, it just makes the experience that much better when the people you spend 5-7 days are like-minded and can easily relate to each other.

Simply put, we have a ton of fun. 

What’s special about having 12-20 people in a group? What does a group of that size add to the experience?

Under30Experiences creates boutique experiences in a way that our groups always end up coming together and getting really close knit.  Sure, you'll have free-time to explore by yourself, but when it's dinner time, we all sit at one big table and recap the day.  

A group of that size means there is always someone there that you will be able to connect with, yet it's not so big so the group can stay inclusive of everyone.  If the group is planning on having a bonfire at the beach in Nicaragua nobody will get left behind in their bungalow that night. 

 Explore the Land of Fire and Ice with U30X

Explore the Land of Fire and Ice with U30X

What is your single favorite travel destination and why?

Nicaragua is my favorite destination because of our special relationship with the locals.  Cesar Romero our Community Manager grew up in Nicaragua and puts us in touch with the culture first hand.  We work with a local organization called Communidad Connect to meet with local women entrepreneurs and hear how micro-loans and cooperatives have given resources for them to start businesses and support their families in some of the most impoverished regions of the country.

My favorite part of the trip is playing soccer with the local school kids.  It's very important that these children develop a healthy relationship with foreigners and these types of cultural exchanges allow our groups to understand what life is really like in Nicaragua.

How has Under30Experiences changed you personally?

Travel has allowed me to seek new perspectives and understand the bigger picture when it comes to culture, economics, international affairs, inter-personal relationships, and becoming more in touch with myself.

Humans face challenges across the globe and travel has allowed me to gain a healthy, first hand understanding of many of them, which has opened up my awareness to what we face at home...

In other words, yes, sometimes it does take being welcomed with a smile inside a home with dirt floors in Central America, to realize that these global challenges are happening just a few miles from wherever you call home.

What advice would you offer to people starting their own businesses?

If you want to "take over the world" you should first try to understand it.

Obviously I don't mean actually taking over the world, but if you want to be successful, you should first consider what success means to you.  Budding business owners must assume their responsibility as future world leaders and be conscious of the affects that their decisions make on all of our futures. 


Connect with Matt on Twitter at @mattwilsontv or Under30Experiences at @U30Experiences, or check out some of their trips on the CATALYST TRIPS site.




Samantha is an Art History and Visual Arts major at Columbia University. She is currently the Content Intern for CATALYST and is also interning at Matthew Studios. She has a passion for travel and helping communities.