It’s Female Founder Friday, and you’re going to love the woman entrepreneur behind Greenloons. Irene Lane holds an MBA in International Finance and was in the corporate world for 12 years as a consultant for federal government agencies as well as private information technology companies. In 2010 she made the leap into entrepreneurship when she founded Greenloons, a company that provides trusted, transparent information about authentic ecotourism travel experiences available around the world. Their goal is to make it easy to directly connect travelers with meaningful, unique and awesome vacations. Greenloons accomplishes this by working with eco-certified guiding companies and boutique accommodations that have been independently verified as focusing on the triple bottom line of social empowerment, economic viability, and environmental responsibility.
So, if you’re curious how someone who worked in the Information Technology department of eBay won the National Geographic 50 Tours of a Lifetime Award, or simply want to learn more about authentic ecotourism, don’t miss Irene’s answers and advice below!
What inspired you to create your company?
I was inspired to start the company after I realized that there was a lot of misinformation about ecotourism and very little transparency. I wanted to create a resource that would present the facts about ecotourism and let travelers, especially families, decide for themselves which certified tourism companies and experiences to support, based on their own values.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Initially, the website was set up (at great expense) to take automatic bookings. However, I realized within six months that eco-conscious travelers were more interested in customizing their travel experiences. The lesson of pivoting with a smile was learned early on.
We’ve recently expanded to offering customized culinary experiences for restauranteurs, study abroad experiences for university students, and retreat experiences for smaller organizations. While many clients are pleasantly surprised by the high-quality options for engaging their clientele, they are most amazed by how much sustainable criteria fits into their organizational mission and goals. That ‘a-ha’ moment is magical.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
It may sound trite, but I recommend staying focused. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “being everything to everyone” as many women do. What has helped me is to utilize a Desire Map Planner from Danielle LaPorte. For each day’s schedule, she provides a question / prompt thought such as “In terms of my livelihood, my greatest desire is…” and “If you didn’t do work today, what would you do instead?” and “I feel most free when…” Taking a few minutes to ground myself with this prompt has produced great results.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Adventure of a Lifetime,” by Coldplay because isn’t life all about the adventure?
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Being passionate about your company and why you created it shows through – as does the reverse. Entrepreneurship is fantastic, and some days you will feel on top of the world. Then on other days, you will question your sanity. Staying true to your passion will get you through those choppy days.