03 May An Interview with Ian Bush: Visionary Behind Walk Run Cycle
Ian Bush, the founder of Walk Run Cycle, has had an interesting career path leading up to the creation of his wellness travel app. Although he loved exploring new cities on foot, by bike, and running, Ian found it challenging to find safe and interesting routes online. Fuelled by the urge to help himself and others overcome this dilemma, Ian was inspired to create the Walk Run Cycle app. Fast-forward a few years later, and the app has become a success and breakthrough in the wellness travel industry. In a recent interview, Ian shared insights into the events that led him to develop the app, his vision for wellness travel, and his future plans. Let’s dive in and learn more about Ian’s journey and the development of the Walk Run Cycle app.
Early Career Path: From Architecture to Accounting
Ian’s earlier career began with studying architecture at the University of Bath. Although he wanted to be an architect, he switched to a Building Engineering degree after two years and graduated with First Class Honours. Ian talked about his earlier career at KPMG and how he ended up in the accounting industry despite his initial reluctance. “My dream job was to be an architect, but I wasn’t very good at art. So, I chose to study Architecture at the University of Bath, which had the most technical and least “arty” Architecture course in the UK! But when I graduated, there were no jobs in that field. All the jobs were in Accountancy, which is how I ended up at KPMG doing the one thing I said I would never do!”.
Ian would go on to start a company called Great Space and later acquire The Bottom Drawer: an online wedding list service that offered garden makeovers as a gift list. When Ian bought The Bottom Drawer in 2006, the company had a turnover of less than £30,000. Over the years, he grew the business into a successful enterprise that had generated more than £4.7m of wedding list transactions by the time of its sale to Park Group Plc in 2015. Ian attributes much of this success to the company’s focus on customer service, with the company consistently achieving over 95% positive customer satisfaction ratings and being ranked as the best gift list service in the UK on independent review sites. After selling the company, Ian had some free time and began to formulate the idea for Walk Run Cycle.
Developing the Walk Run Cycle App
So, where did the idea for the Walk Run Cycle app come from? Ian Bush explains, “Whenever I go on holiday, I always like to walk around all the main touristy bits as well as those new, quirky neighbourhoods. But a big guidebook of walks is pretty heavy to carry around (probably out-of-date not long after it’s published!), and there is just too much choice on the internet. So I had the idea to combine my love of walking around a new city with my passion for running and cycling to come up with a simple app for the phone that shows you the ONLY routes you will ever need for a city.”
As a seasoned runner and cyclist, Ian understands the importance of finding safe routes when exploring unfamiliar places.
He adds, “I’m often in training for a half marathon or something and need to go on a run when I’m visiting a city on holiday or business, but how do you know where is safe, or where is lit at night, for example? Again, there was no resource for this – so the idea of Walk Run Cycle was to combine all this in one app – the only walking, running, and cycling routes you will ever need when visiting a city.”
Ian believes that the Walk Run Cycle app is more than just a fitness app. He says, “It’s a way to see a city in a new light. You get to experience the main tourist sites with the prettiest or most interesting routes connecting them (not just the shortest way from A to B), or some cycling routes and advice on where to hire a bike if you want to get out and see a bit more. It’s a great way to explore a new place and stay active at the same time.”
Ian’s Vision for Wellness Travel
With the rise of wellness travel following the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian believes that the Walk Run Cycle app is more relevant than ever. Regarding wellness travel, he says, “It is only going to get more and more important. Covid was an eye-opener for so many people about how quality of life is the most important thing.
Suddenly freed from going into the office day after day, people could see an alternative way of doing things that frees up more personal time. Experiences are also crucial to really get a feel for a new place and understand it by seeing it properly. Incorporating our well-being into that just makes so much sense, and we need to start taking better care of ourselves.”
When asked what he’s been up to lately, Ian said, “I’ve decided to give back, so I now work part-time as a finance director at a local charity and at a not-for-profit organisation trying to increase recycling in the UK! I’m also going to be running the London Marathon in 2024 as my first-ever marathon, so I’m doing a lot of running in preparation for that!”.
Ian’s story is one of perseverance and adaptability. Despite his original career aspirations not working out, he has managed to find success in his ventures and create innovative solutions to problems. Walk Run Cycle is a testament to his creativity and determination to make life simpler for people.