Mark E. Johnson
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Hobnail Trekking Co.
Mark started Hobnail Trekking Co. in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Hobnail Trekking Co.?
In August 2016, I was on a steep downward trajectory in my job as a communications director at a nonprofit as a result of philosophical differences with the organization.
It was very uncomfortable, at best. The day before I was to part ways with the organization, I was having my pickup truck worked on at my mechanic shop and needed a ride to pick it up. Having applied the previous night to a communications job at a ride-sharing company, Lyft, I downloaded the app to my phone and hailed a ride.
The man who picked me up was clearly not from our hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Although he had a strong indeterminable accent, he spoke fluent English and we had a great conversation on the way to the mechanic. Turns out the man was from Nepal. When I asked him if he knew anything about the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek — something my wife and I had placed on our Bucket List years ago — he smiled and said, “I am an Everest Region Sherpa. I’ve guided that trip dozens of times. I actually own a small trekking company in Nepal.” We exchanged numbers and quickly set up a meeting for that weekend so my wife could ask him about the trek.
The next day, I was unemployed.
After meeting with my driver, Dawa Jangbu Lama Sherpa, that weekend, my wife, Holly, and I created a loose plan to do the EBC trek in Spring 2018. We had no idea how we would pay for it or, with three kids, work out the logistics, but we committed ourselves to make it happen. We also developed a friendship with Dawa, whose family had relocated to the Nashville area.
Over the next several months, I worked toward landing a new communications job, but also researched the EBC trek. I began noticing that there were no regional trekking companies that offered this trek. In fact, there were no companies headquartered east of Colorado that we could find. One day, an idea popped into my head: Why don’t WE, my wife and I, create our own company? Although we had absolutely no experience with Nepal and were only casual hikers, I had a vast amount of marketing and web development experience and my wife is great with finances and organizational stuff. Dawa had a large network of guides and porters but had no way to market his treks in the U.S.
If I could work out a partnership with Dawa, he could handle the actual trekking part. I floated the idea to both Holly and Dawa, and both were very enthusiastic and (to their credit) brave about trying it. In January 2017, we launched our company, Hobnail Trekking.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater