Tom's Acorn Years

Tom started his journey in 1996, aged 22. At 23, endorsed by Michael Palin, he became the UK's youngest non-fiction author, publishing backpacker guide "Before You Go". He met IT Guru Peter Pedrick and in 1998 they launched the website,, on one of the first social network platforms on the web - two years before Google, six years before Facebook. Tom and Peter grafted hard to get the business off the ground - sleeping on the office floor, living off Pot Noodle, usually working past midnight, often seven days a week. They published 'Gap Year' Magazine, Tom's second book, "The Virgin Travellers' Handbook" and Tom soon assumed the industry and media mantle as the 'Gap Year Guru.'

In 1999 a business plan was created to turn a UK travel idea for 18-year-olds between school and university into a global gap year 'experiential travel' idea for 16 to 75 year olds, with new site as the dominant global brand. In 2000, when Tom was 26, £1.65m venture capital funding came from Henry Kravis of KKR and the rest is history. In 2010 Tom and Peter sold the business to Flight Centre Pty, a $10bn global travel agent. is still the leading brand in a global Gap Year industry, a market valued around £5bn. Tom's work now continues with Acorn Incubator, helping entrepreneurs with a passion to find their path and begin their own journey.