What began as a dream job for Matt Yaki has morphed into a company has morphed into a company that is thriving locally, travels internationally, and is employing up to ten staff every summer.
“Wandering Wheels started fairly organically,” explains Matt. “I was relatively new to town and an avid mountain biker. But I didn’t have my own truck. It became apparent that, other than the MacPherson trails, a logging truck road worthy vehicle is a necessity to access trails. I was relying on friends and trying to figure out rides or shuttles.”
This struggle for access, coupled with the realization that navigating the trail network without proper knowledge of the area resulted in not making the most of your time, was a light bulb moment for Matt.
“I saw an opportunity for a tourism business,” says Matt. “Other summer based tourism activities were being offered, including rock climbing guides and white water rafting, but there was nothing for mountain biking.”
Matt got in touch with Kevin at Community Futures and floated the idea of a shuttle and tour service.
“It was a great conversation because Kevin brought up things I hadn’t considered, like land tenures,” says Matt. “It sparked a lot of research to ensure it was a feasible business.”
That footwork led to a loan from Community Futures that allowed Matt and his business partner, Sahana Browning, to purchase their first shuttle truck and officially open Wandering Wheels.
“The first year or two the business was almost exclusively shuttle service. We were promoting guiding and coaching, but it took a while to evolve. The first summer I guided maybe three tours; the second I guided around twenty.”
Community Futures helped secure additional finances for Wandering Wheels when Matt and Sahana decided went to push marketing and their online presence. It worked.
Nowadays, come summer time Matt is guiding every day, sometimes multiple times. The business has grown to encompass hugely popular kids camps for local youth, coaching, guided day tours and all inclusive multi day trips both locally and abroad. Matt and Sahana work year round. The have a full time salaried summer contract employee and between six and eight guides and coaches.
Camps and multi day trips allow Wandering Wheels to stretch their season past the summer months and have led Matt to taking clients to Nepal, Tibet and the Yukon, and more.
“A lot of our clientele is repeat customers. A random person might book a day tour, have a great time, and book a multi day package the next year for themselves and five friends,” he says.
Would Wandering Wheels have come into being without the aid of Community Futures? “I don’t know,” says Matt. “I probably would have just done something different, because no one else would have loaned us the start up money needed.”
In 2019, Wandering Wheels has grown into a local success story.
“It’s become what I envisioned business to be,” he says. “I wanted to ride my bike and share experience with people around world. It took time to get our name out there and get recognition, but it was worth it.”