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Urban Hiker SF
Alexandra started Urban Hiker SF in 2012. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Urban Hiker SF?
Before starting Urban Hiker SF, I worked as a marketing manager at Google from 2007 to 2012. By the end of my time there, I was very burned out on big company politics—and mainly on commuting (up to three hours a day), so I knew I needed to leave. I had saved a bunch of money and knew I had enough funds to take some time off.
After I quit, I took some time off to explore San Francisco. By that time, I had lived in the city for 4.5 years, but I didn’t know it that well as I spent most days at Google headquarters in Mountain View. With my time off, I explored our city’s mosaic stairways, our beautiful beaches, our “wave organ”—all the places I had wanted to visit, but never had the time to.
> Take actionable steps toward your goals every day and you’ll make progress. Also, once you get started, you’ll meet people along your way to help you. You won’t necessarily find those people if you’re only doing research and not actually launching.
As I explored the city more, I realized that other people might also want to see the things I was seeing on my explorations. Thus was born the idea for Urban Hiker SF. I had no background or expertise in tourism—just a lot of interest and motivation.
I had read the book The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, which taught me that I didn’t need to spend a lot of money to start a business. So I spent $100 to reserve a domain name and host a website on Wix.
I chatted with a few local tour operators to make some connections and get some initial advice. Then I sought out my first customers!
My first hikers came from three sources:
- My dad’s wife’s friends wanted to do a hike with their monthly hiking group
- At the time, Airbnb was running small local experiences (much smaller than their current Experiences program) and I reached out to them to see if they would be interested in my running a hike for their local Airbnb guests. They said yes!
- I ran a small coupon promotion with the now-defunct Zozi, a Groupon-style company specifically focused on outdoor activities.
After running hikes for all of these groups, people began to write TripAdvisor reviews, and that helped more people find me. I also focused on getting new customers through a few new channels:
- Partnerships: I worked with travel marketplaces like Viator and wedding registries like Zola to sell my tours).
- DMCs: Destination Management Consultants (DMCs) organize large corporate events with hundreds to thousands of people. They book hotels, restaurants, and activities. I reached out to local DMCs to present them with my Urban Hiker SF offering.
- Networking: I asked friends still in the corporate world if their companies needed team building activities.
- PR: I joined San Francisco Travel, our visitor's bureau, and they refer me out to traveling journalists who write up my tours. These journalists’ blog posts and articles attract new guests.
In 2013, I realized I could not survive on Urban Hiker SF income alone. I decided to pick up another more stable job while I built Urban Hiker SF. Since 2013, I have been working at Wordsmithie, an agency that does writing and design projects for tech companies. My boss was a former Googler, and that helped me get the job. To this day, I work 20 hours a week for Wordsmithie and spend the rest of my work week on Urban Hiker SF.