Early conversation between Morgan and Patti Hart, founders of MudGuide
One evening several years ago, we were sitting on a terrace in northern Sicily overlooking the Mediterranean, enjoying the view and sipping a little wine. Here’s the conversation that followed:
Patti: What are you thinking about?
Morgan: About how life is good. We’ve been in Sicily for months now, traveling around, hiking, cooking great meals, eating at all our favorite restaurants. This is the way to travel. I wish we could do this for a living.
Patti: And why not? Let’s figure out a way to capitalize on our hard earned experience and encourage folks to be more than just tourists, tell them how to be travelers. Here’s the tagline… global access to local knowledge.
Morgan: Great idea. But how do we make money at this?
Patti: We’ll start with a fantastic traveler’s website telling folks where to go, the best way to get there, what we’ve enjoyed seeing, eating, pictures, maps, everything.
Morgan: Great idea. But there are hundreds of travel websites. How would ours be different? And where does the money part come in?
Patti: We can’t compete with the travel websites that book hotels, air travel, and so forth. Besides, what we have to tell folks won’t appeal to the typical tourist who is rushing through 20 cities in 10 days. We need to cultivate a niche market of travelers – folks who want to explore places in detail, slowly, over time. When someone is planning a trip to Barcelona, they can check out MudGuide and find detailed information about interesting restaurants and markets. But it wouldn’t be just for people who are traveling, others interested in history, food, trains, and so forth could enjoy reading about our adventures.
Morgan: OK, great idea. But what will I be doing? And where does the money part come in?
Patti: You’ll do the travel writing. You have a unique perspective and are very, very funny. And you’ve always wanted to write fiction. We can tie in your novels to the travel writing somehow, building a brand that everyone will recognize.
Morgan: Well… I have always wanted to write fiction. I’ve had this idea for a series of scrolls telling the story of a young Carthaginian slave cook named Mago who starts out in the kitchens of Hieron of Syracuse at the start of the First Punic War and goes on to live a very interesting life full of sex, violence, and great battles. I want it to be based on sound history, but also a little campy. For example, some of the kitchen scenes would be like Iron Chef Japan which was far superior to Iron Chef America.
Patti: See, that works into the whole idea perfectly. Where did the name Mago come from?
Morgan: Mago means sorcerer or magician in Italian. Mago was also a common name among the Carthaginians. Mago the Great was…
Morgan: Products? That gets back to the money question. Are we going to sell advertising on the website? Are we going to have sponsors?
Patti: I hate advertising. It’s so distracting and makes websites look cheap. And if we have sponsors, we’ll be compromising our integrity. Every time we review something, folks will be wondering if we were bought off. Here’s my idea. We adopt a freemium approach where we have fantastic web content available for free, then we periodically bundle and improve the best of the content for sale as books, photographs, audio guides, and so forth. Combine that with the sale of MagoScrolls and we’ll do fine.
Morgan: So we’re going to change our lives based on a conversation that started out with your asking “What are you thinking about?”
Patti: That’s what wives are for. Look, we love traveling and I’m certain that we can figure out how to build a following of fans who also love traveling. That’s what the internet is for. All we have to do is go viral. How hard can that be with your very excellent writing and my brains?
And thus MudGuide was born. It’s that simple. The MudGuide.com website is here to inform and entertain travelers. Our most excellent products are available for sale. And we’re always looking for suggestions from folks on how we can improve both.
If you’re interested in more information about our philosophy and you want to figure out if you’re a traveler, then you can take our test.