Well, this is the message that I had hoped we would never need to send, but I am sadly writing to let you know that we are closing the Project X Adventures website and our Store.
As I’ve read in several ‘business development’ books over the years, running a business is a lot like climbing a mountain. You have your goal which is the summit and the path to that point is never just a straight line. It’s a series of climbs and descents as you move around the lower foothills. Peppered with challenging valleys and dangerous slopes with precarious rocks all around you as you continue to climb. You always hope you will make the summit – but sometimes things outside of your control come along and you need to face facts and descend so that you can live on to climb another day.
Covid was our rockfall and as with most businesses, the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding our own health and wellbeing, the constantly changing rules and the uncertain travel situation have meant that we have struggled over the last two years to keep the business running.
It’s fair to say that we were already in a bit of a valley as we started 2020 but we could see the potential in what we were working on and we had grand plans to launch our self-led expeditions in August and to expand the offering of brands and products that were available in our store – but then March 2020 came along and as we all know, everything just stopped.
In the early stages of the pandemic, we were able to hibernate for a few months which bought us time to work out new ways to operate and improve our systems ahead of reopening in May 2020.
We created online resources and kit packs to help parents bring a little adventure to their kids at home and in July 2020, we worked with our friends at the Kilombero Valley Ornithological Centre in Tanzania to create a Virtual Tour. This provided them with vital funds to keep their project alive and us with an interesting challenge to work on. This had the added benefit of providing some engaging virtual content to support over 50 youth groups as they ran their online programmes.
This then carried on into 2021, where in July and August our situation was starting to look much more positive. Orders were starting to pick back up to a better level and we were starting to think about expeditions again. But then as we moved into September and October, we noticed that orders were starting to slow down again. We also started to experience issues with getting stock from some of our suppliers, with some orders, unfortunately, being delayed for several months.
In December 2021, faced with the uncertainty that the Omicron variant brought and a further decline in order volumes, we got to a tipping point. We either had to look at alternative funding which would stifle our growth for years to come or make some radical changes to keep the company running. At this point, the only option we realistically had was to look at scaling back.
With these changes, along with Covid restrictions relaxing and global travel starting to get easier, 2022 started to look a little better. However, this was short-lived as the global stock situation with many of our brands restricted what we were able to sell. Each section of our business needs to deliver for us to continue to offer the service we have always been proud of. This just wasn’t the case, so something had to change.
Ultimately being a small growing business where we are reinvesting to grow the business means that we don’t have the reserves to continue to weather this storm and we eventually came to the decision that we have now made.
Clearly, this isn’t the outcome that we had hoped for when I first came up with the idea for the business. To go back to the example at the start of this, I really don’t think our adventure is over quite yet, but it is for now – maybe we will have a bid for the summit again at some point! Maybe a different route perhaps?
I would like to say a huge thank you to our family and friends for all their support over the last 9 years. As many of you will know, running a small business is not easy, but having that support network helping us along the way makes a huge difference. We certainly could not have continued as long as we have without it!
Looking to the future, I really don’t know what will happen with Project X. Over the past few weeks, we have been working to clear any remaining backorders that we have not yet fulfilled as the stock has become available from our suppliers. We have also been working on projects elsewhere. We will now be having a clearance sale to sell off our remaining stock. But after that, we will have to see.
Finally, a massive thank you to each of you that has placed orders with us, shared your adventures with us and supported us over the years. We really appreciated the time you took to leave us Trustpilot reviews, read our blogs, talk to us about your adventures or even just sharing and liking our posts on social media. These little things make a huge difference to a small business and genuinely made the effort that we put into our business worth it!
Until next time – Happy Adventuring,
George, Will and Katie