Check out our interview with UNILAD Adventure co-founder Sam Bentley and his journey around the world to prove that conscious travel and eco-friendly development can save the world.
Earth offers more than enough resources to go around. One of Sam Bentley’s proudest projects at UNILAD was a series he created called “The Dark Side Behind Tourism,” which discussed tourist activities that, unbeknownst to most people, contribute to animal cruelty. The docuseries inspired Bentley to continue investigating productive and harmful travel to show his followers how to make each experience pleasant for everyone involved.
Sam has been traveling across the States while living and preaching sustainable travel, offering tips, and planning his next adventures.
Follow Sam @sambentley
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious, Passionate, Compassionate
Who is your biggest supporter?
The best advice is ever given?
Whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world.
When did you start in the business?
I got interested in business and entrepreneurship from high school, I started selling DVDs and Music Albums during lunch breaks
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Get Out While You Can: Escape The Rat Race By George Marshall
What is the key to your success?
Perseverance. Failing is really important in business but you must have perseverance to work through those failures and see how to adjust and move forward. Perseverance and hard work also create more opportunities for luck to come and find you. So many successful ventures come from one ‘right place right time’ moment and perseverance can get you in those positions.
Tell us about “UNILAD?”
UNILAD is a global media publisher that features trending news, viral videos and covers topics such as travel, gaming, tech and more.
I co-founded UNILAD, and with the help of an incredibly talented team, grew a small Facebook page from my bedroom in Birmingham, into one of the biggest social media companies in the world with over 60 million fans and over 1 billion video views every month.
Over the course of 6 years, UNILAD grew to over 200 staff with offices in Manchester and London and a team in New York, all with no investment.
In that time, we pioneered social media strategy, breaking records for being the most viewed social media publisher of all time, with over 4.5 billion video views one month, and we were consistently the most popular publisher across social media every year.
What is the feeling to be part of the Forbes 30 Under 30?
This isn’t unique to the Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni, but having access to a like-minded community of people was great. I actually met one of my best friends through it.
What are your recommendations for traveling during COVID?
Seek out quirky places to stay and find escapism on your doorstep. I think it’s really important to find opportunities to be immersed in nature during this time so quirky stays such as a tiny home or a small cabin can be a great way to find that escapism for a few days whilst ensuring there’s limited contact with others and the outside world.
Top 3 countries to visit? Why?
South Africa – the natural beauty is insane and the people there are super friendly. If you visit Cape Town you’ll never want to leave.
Iceland – it feels like being on another planet, you realise how truly beautiful and brutal nature is at the same time. The harsh colds, the powerful waterfalls, the sharp glaciers. They’re intimidating but also majestic.
Your home country – Whatever country you live in, pretend you’re a tourist and create itineraries. I guarantee you’ll find so many hidden gems you’d never have expected and grow a deeper appreciation for the beauty on your doorstep.
Now tell us about the UNILAD series “The Dark Side Behind Tourism?”
It was one of the pieces of work I was most proud of during my time at UNILAD.
Around the world, animals are exploited so tourists can ride them, take photos with them or see them on display in some form. If an activity you want to do involves an animal, research before going. Elephants are beaten and their spirits are broken to get them in a state where tourists can ride them. Don’t unknowingly find yourself supporting such horrendous practices.
In some instances, days after we posted about an example of animal abuse and got massive exposure around it we had local authorities in that region formally expressing a plan to change how these activities operated to be more compassionate towards the animals involved.
Not everyone has a voice, not everything has a voice, so it was all about being a voice for the voiceless, and using our voice on social media for good.
Moving on from UNILAD, I’m using my personal social channels to showcase content that develops a deeper compassion for animals, and I’ve continued to partner with the likes of World Animal Protection, PETA and Greenpeace.