Wanderer and entrepreneur Jayanth Sharma on how he quit his mundane IT job to follow his passion and co-found Toehold, a travel company that focuses on capturing moments and making vivid memories
There is no lack of success stories in the career space especially with individuals quitting mundane jobs to avidly follow their passion. Jayanth Sharma's story is no different. Around eight years ago, he quit his IT job to start Toehold, a company that helps young professionals and photography enthusiasts with the skills, guidance, and equipment needed to hone their innate talent. Speaking about what gave him the ammunition to start Toehold, Sharma said, "I think when you’re truly passionate about a dream, and the desire to fulfill it reaches a certain intensity, courage and other practical considerations fade into the background, because the wave of passion carries you out to sea all by itself! Having said that, I could clearly see the problems prevalent in the industry and therefore the opportunities present to solve them, and just jumped right in, determined to make a difference." Adding on how the company was named, Sharma added, "The name was suggested by a friend and it perfectly captured what we intended to do, which was to be a definitive support for people, so we loved it and chose it!"
The company’s vision is to serve as a critical support to help one ascend towards one’s dreams of creative and artistic expressions to enrich their souls – a toehold. It does so by making photography and exotic travel accessible to its customers and has provided guided photography tours with its experienced mentors and guides to over a thousand individuals over the past seven years.
"What makes us stand out from others in the market is that apart from our outstanding quality and depth of subject-matter expertise, thanks to the decades of experience our leadership and mentoring teams have, our most remarkable distinction lies in the way we combine the entire range of services a travel or photography enthusiast may need, under a common roof, something which no other company has been able to achieve."
"We often underestimate the importance of photographs," he quipped. "They have the power of transporting you to a time and place instantly, and help you observe and appreciate things that you may have missed in the moment. Photographs also help us share with others what we experienced, and perhaps in some way inspire and motivate them to explore the world as well and come to experience the magic inherent in it."
The company offers unique ways in which their customers can capture or learn to capture moments during their holiday. "Our patrons bring their own equipment but those who can do with a better or more suitable camera, lens or accessory than what they own, simply hire it from us for the duration of a Tour," said Sharma. "That way, they can use exactly what they need for how long they need, without spending big. During the Tour, our entire effort is to assist them in using whatever equipment they’re carrying to the absolute fullest and take back fantastic pictures," he added.
Toehold has spread its wings to various destinations in India an abroad. "We have a truly comprehensive catalogue of destinations (more than 60) we offer Tours to," said Shrama. "Geographically, we operate Tours in six of the planet’s seven continents. In India we’re very strong with our offerings, as our calendar includes Tours to all the most spectacular wildlife parks in the country, along with several landscape- and culture-oriented Tours to places like Ladakh and Varanasi. Overseas, East Africa is our most popular destination, with several Tours every year to Kenya and Tanzania," he added. "We also run some very exotic Tours to the Arctic and Antarctica. Prices start from around Rs. 25,000 for a two-night Tour to Kabini in Karnataka."
Besides handling tours, the company also offers workshops for begginers and budding photographers to hone their skills. "Our ‘Art and Science of Photography’ Workshop, which happens every month in several Indian metros, is aimed precisely at the complete beginner as well as someone who’s owned a camera for a while but is unclear about both the basic and advanced concepts," said Sharma. "No prior knowledge is required at all to be a part of this Workshop. The course content and delivery are designed to enable quick and effective mastery of all the essential concepts, and is an ideal door through which to step into the world of photography," he added.
Social media, today is a powerful tool for promotion and Sharma is thankful to the various platforms that help him share what his company does. "It’s possible to get your message across to a wider and better targeted audience thanks to social media. However, we don’t believe in simply bombarding people with adverts. Our constant attempt is to share valuable content that audiences will enjoy, and which will help them come to appreciate both the subject matter as well as the art of photography through it, and perhaps come to be infected with the same passion by which we’re stricken," he said.
The company plans to keep expanding and touching as many lives as possible in the future. "Our dream is to make everyone fall in love with travel and photography, and to realize that, we frequently add destinations, products and services that may help people realize the pleasures of discovery and self expression," said Sharma. "True to this ethos, we recently opened a showcase gallery and experience zone in Mumbai to reach out to enthusiasts there. We have also been offering equipment on rent in Mumbai as the third city in which we offer this valuable service," he added.
About the company:
Headquartered in Bangalore, Toehold was co-founded in April 2010 by Jayanth Sharma. Toehold offers curated and customized travel and photography solutions that span six continents across the globe, with tours that take customers to the most incredible nature and wildlife destinations in biodiversity hotspots like India’s natural reserves, Costa Rica’s exotic coastline, Iceland’s incredible landscapes, Africa’s endless plains, and even the awe-inspiring frozen spaces of the Arctic and Russia’s Kamchatka plateau. Led by Toehold’s impressive team of full-time and partner photographers serving as tour leaders and mentors, these tours promise their customers an unforgettable journey in experiencing the splendour of nature and the power of photography.
Toehold’s impressive array of products and services has helped it script an exceptional growth and success story, having provided more than 10,000 customers with photography instruction (including photographers trained in classroom workshops) and skill development over the last seven years.