It’s not every day that we find ourselves in conversation with someone that casually says that they hold 4 world records, have covered more than 2,000 miles in the polar regions and can also say they’ve kayaked from Greenland to Scotland! Meet 29-year old George Bullard, a Norfolk bred man, who has a penchant for heights, ice and danger and is partner to the ever-impressive IGO Adventures. IGO Adventures have created a series of challenges in the world’s most spectacular wildernesses so that you can experience ‘Adventure Euphoria’. Once you hear just what some of the challenges entail, not only will you be seriously impressed but you might be inspired to do one yourself!
Where’s home? Norfolk
Profession: Partner at IGO Adventures, Explorer & Motivational Speaker
Company Name: IGO Adventures
What did you study at university?
Biological Science with Management
Was it easy to know what you would do once you graduated?
Not at all – I left Edinburgh University following a path that I thought was clear cut – Speaking professionally to all audiences about my experiences. Pretty soon though, I wasn’t learning anything and I was going from businesses to schools, to charities and to dinners recounting adventurous endeavours, but never actually making enough money for me to survive and support loved ones.
What is IGO Adventures?
IGO Adventures’ mission is to bottle ‘Adventure Euphoria’ and deliver it in an accessible package which everyone can access even if you are busy, have a job, a mortgage and a family. We have therefore created a series of challenges in the world’s most spectacular wildernesses.
How did the idea for IGO materialize?
IGO came about when my business partner rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. As he arrived onto the beach in Antigua to see his friends and family, it was the culmination of a 1.5year long campaign of fund raising, building the boat, training and then a 48-day crossing.
It was realising that not everyone has 48 days let alone 1.5 years to create that feeling of self-worth, appreciation, satisfaction and pride. In order to emulate that ‘Adventure Euphoria’, IGO Adventures was created.
What were the challenges in initially setting up IGO?
Initially the challenge was understanding whether IGO was a race or an adventure. The markets that are different require different strategies. Since joining, we have pivoted away from races and now occupy a unique space, with the aim of making true unbridled adventure accessible to all.
What has been your favourite adventure?
I have been fortunate enough to go to some pretty extraordinary places on planet earth, but my favourite place is a sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia. It sits in the middle of the ferocious Southern Ocean and acts as a sanctuary for every mammal and bird that lives under it’s waves. The island is also steeped in history, so visiting it is particularly profound for me.
We went there to try to find Shackleton’s stove, an explorer who is believed to have left there. We lived in tents alongside the elephant/fur seals, penguins and albatrosses. I think part of its charm is the fact that it is so remote, that really, so few people have been there, let alone heard of it!
Do you have any current nemesis that you need to go and conquer?
North Pole in Winter!
Who did you seek advice from and who helped you at the beginning?
Personally, my brother Harry was a huge source of information and support for me. He has a great business mind which is superbly important for starting a business. Obviously in the early days, when things aren’t going to plan – your friends and family offering support is invaluable.
Did you ever doubt yourself that you could do it?
I am not sure whether we have necessarily “done it”, yet. There is still a long way to go, to create something truly amazing, but we are certainly heading in the right direction. Wherever we are on the spectrum, it is super important to believe passionately in what you are doing.
How do you market yourself?
Word-of-mouth is incredibly important for IGO and the most powerful form of marketing. We also have incredibly strong imagery, so using that on social media and in print is important.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
There is no other company that offers the same level of support for individuals looking to do something so far out of their comfort zone. We do some pretty ambitious routes and we want individuals embarking on our adventures, safe in the knowledge that they will have support- for example we have a doctor and physio on side, so you know you’re going to be OK.
Describe a popular IGO trip?
Each IGO follows a set format which essentially allows anyone, from any background to get a fix of Adventure Euphoria. We experience the worlds most spectacular wildernesses and unearth emotions that most people will never experience in their lives, unless they are on such a euphoric adventure. Our flagship expedition is in Norway and involves crossing the Hardangervidda plateau on skis and on foot. We live in spectacular Lavvu tents, with open fires and reindeer pelts to sleep on. When you reach the other side, we encourage your friends and family to come out and see you cross the finish line, so there is a warm embrace to keep you motivated to finish.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
I don’t think this is a case of knowing, it is more about having the balls/confidence to live a life of passion and not what our forbearers wanted for us necessarily.
What’s a typical day for you working for IGO?
There really is no typical day – mainly because I never feel like I am at work with IGO – it is something which I enjoy and therefore I am keen to do it at every waking hour.
Any personality traits you have realised about yourself?
I have discovered that I get very excitable – I often have to pinch myself to calm myself down.
Any complete disasters to report?
When looking for humorous disasters there have been a few. Once I dropped an entire sack of human sh*t on my head, week 2 of an 8-week expedition in Svalbard – probably easier not to ask!
What’s been your best moment since setting up IGO?
Some of the most rewarding moments are when people have just finished an IGO Adventure and describe their experience as truly life-changing. Seeing the expression of delight, amazement and satisfaction on their faces is just priceless and always remains with me forever.
What would you say to a budding explorer wanting to make it their career?
Go for it… but be prepared to be very poor! It is not as glamourous as Instagram portrays!
What’s next for yourself and IGO?
To make sure that IGO Adventures is great.
The next big trip for me personally is inspired by Fridjof Nansen – a Norwegian Explorer who tried to be the first man to reach the North Pole. He got a boat called the ‘Fram’ stuck in the ice and drifted towards the Pole. His story became famous, not because he reached the pole (it wasn’t actually reached for another 20yrs) but more because of his incredible survival story.
Our plan is to get a boat stuck in the ice at the end of Summer and drift towards the pole, collecting vital scientific data on climate change as we drift before making a bid on the North Pole in the depths of the Polar Winter. If successful, we will be the first people to reach the pole in winter unsupported!
Find Links to IGO Adventure’s Social Media Handles Here!
Interview by Alexandra Hutton> follow her Instagram here @alexadventure