Tom Avery epitomizes the idea of an adventure entrepreneur. The youngest man to ever reach the North and South Pole and one of only 41 people who have reached the both poles on foot, Avery led the expedition that the Guinness Book of World Records described as “the fastest journey to the North Pole.”
“I’m very fortunate in that I have been able to make a living out of my hobby for some seven years now. I never thought it was possible to make a career from yomping across snowy wastes! I’ve been very lucky, but it’s taken a lot of hard work and commitment along the way,” says Avery.
“My yearning to be an explorer goes back to when I was seven and started reading about the famous explorers of the past: Scott, Shackleton, Columbus, and Marco Polo. I was just mesmerized by their journeys and wanted to explore, just as they had. Having now been on dozens of expeditions myself, that passion for the outdoors hasn’t gone away and I’m always looking for new and exciting places to travel to next. I don’t like going to the same place twice,” he continues.
When asked about how he makes a living Avery explains, “I don’t get paid for doing the expeditions, but I do have a number of companies who sponsor me on an annual basis. My main bread and butter comes from writing books and giving motivational talks to schools and businesses around the world. I absolutely love telling people about my adventures and showing them that anything in life is possible if you put your mind to it.
“The main companies [sponsors] I work with are TAG Heuer, Barclays Capital, Mountain Hardwear and Champagne Mumm. They’ve all been hugely supportive over the years, and without them I wouldn’t have been able to do the expeditions I have.
“When I started off, getting sponsorship was a nightmare. I’d write hundreds of letters to companies, and rarely even get a reply. The more expeditions I’ve done, and the more my profile has grown, people began taking me more seriously and could see the benefits of sponsoring me, or one of my expeditions. It’s amazing how diverse some of the sponsorship requests have become—some companies are just happy for me to wear their logo, others want me to do a series of talks to their staff and clients, others ask me to take their clients skiing in the Alps.”
In addition to racking up the corporate sponsors, Tom has recently published his second book, To the End of the Earth. The book chronicles his recreation of the harrowing journey of American explorer Robert Peary to the North Pole and proves that Peary, in theory at least, could have actually managed to reach the pole in only 37 days as he claimed to have done on April 7, 1909 — almost exactly 100 years ago.
When asked about his plans for the future, Avery answered, “Adventure is in my blood, so the expeditions will never stop. I’ve achieved some of my biggest goals, I’ve reached the North and South Poles and I’ve climbed unclimbed mountains in the Himalayas. But there’s still so much on my “To Do” list—I’ve got countless mountains I still want to climb, ice caps to cross and oceans to sail. My ultimate ambition is to sail around the world. I just love the sea.”
What advice does he have for other young adventure-minded entrepreneurs? “Go for it!” says Avery. “The old adage about a 1,000-mile journey starting with a single step is so true. Dig out an Atlas, pick a spot you want to explore, pack a rucksack, and off you go. You don’t need to go to the end of the Earth to experience adventure—it’s right on our doorstep. You can’t beat the excitement of that first adventure, it’s like a drug, and you’ll be yearning for more.”