The American way pays for entrepreneur
LEITH Stevens was back in Noosa for only a short time, but it was a welcome break from the high-paced life of Silicon Valley.
The 31-year-old globally educated businessman man with an IT degree is doing very nicely in the tourism industry.
His company, Flextrip, which he sold last year to Nor1, is a story of ingenuity and determination.
He credits the American way of business creation as a great encouragement for budding entrepreneurs.
"An accessible business-mentor system which can put you in touch with the greatest businessmen in the world, and the availability of venture capital, can give you a start," he said.
Mr Stevens' career began after he completed a computer science degree at Boston University.
That enabled him to take on key positions in the technology management divisions of major finance companies.
Once he had experience under his belt, he went looking for something that would provide him with more personal satisfaction and where he could "have more fun".
He loved travelling, had done plenty of it and along the way experienced the pros and cons.
One of the cons, he decided to turn into a pro.
"I often found there was some time left at the end of trip - perhaps the last day, or time before you left the country, or even the first day," he said.
He calculated that time, if channelled into tourism destinations, could be worth up to $150 billion.
In 2011, he married up companies such as online flight-booking operations, hotel chains and airlines with a host of global tourism destinations.
Ultimately, Flextrip grew into one of the world's largest business-to-business tour-and-activities distribution networks, with more than 15,000 bookable activities.
"Flextrip enables travel companies to monetise existing bookings by offering a unique, comprehensive selection of tours and activities via its automated interface," Mr Stevens said, adding he had been amply rewarded by Nor1 for "all the angst" he put into his company.
He now works in his own division in the company.