Gutsy Genius Thinkers

Examine the taxonomy of your business now more than ever.

Cofounders & COO of Devour Tours, Flamenco Tours and SpainRevealed

James Blick & Yoly Martin

Madrid, Spain

James Blick and Yoly Martín are true founders and entrepreneurs in the classic sense: they saw gaps in the market and filled them. James cofounded Devour Tours, a platform for tour experiences, and he also founded SpainRevealed. Let’s also add YouTube stars to the list of their accomplishments. Yoly founded a unique flamenco experience company; the Flamencoguide.com brings guests behind the scenes of this centuries-old “gitanos” dance to “feel it.”

James embodies the definition of an Adapter. He went from lawyer (“Yeah, there’s the other side of the spectrum!”) to travel writer and producer of TV commercials to today’s iteration as cofounder. James will freely admit that he didn’t really know employing a [business] formula was what he was doing in the beginning. “I started a business before I knew how to run a business,” confessed the transplant from New Zealand in their interview for The Adapters. “It was pretty organic,” agreed Yoly, “but everything seemed to work; we got customers, and we grew.”

Devour’s mission is to “connect curious travelers with local food and community in a way that helps culture thrive.” This is a resounding theme echoed by our GGTs—that sense of being part of the community, regardless of the size of the organization. James and Yoly are media experts and have a keen sense of how to ignite your curiosity while offering so many options to immerse yourself in the local community.

So, just how have James and Yoly adapted when face-to-face tours and the research opportunities for more experiential tourist offerings have pretty much “fallen off a cliff,” in James’s words?

“Start by pulling back the curtain, letting people in, and sharing the worries and hardships,” says James. The two have produced numerous “at home” videos, sharing tips on moving to Spain, doing cooking demos of popular Spanish dishes, and even walking their own neighborhood during lockdowns to just talk about the situation.

Yoly noted that their followers, and even the new visitors to their sites and channel, have reacted positively to that genuine sharing. “It keeps the trust going with those we know, and starts that relationship with new people, potential clients.”

The Adapters have challenged the travel, tourism, and hospitality community to “look over the fence” for inspiration for ways to adapt and innovate. James and Yoly have an infectious level of calm confidence that the C-19 crisis will actually broaden their respective product lines and grow their businesses off a strong foundation. They have already published a cookbook, a travel guide, and are branching into bespoke “how to move to and live in Spain” content. Why? Because their YouTube followers told them what content they want. Amazing what happens when you LISTEN to your customers.


James and Yoly’s Adapters Tips

  • If you can triage cashflow and your financial obligations, now is the ideal time for a review of the basics of your business.
  • You can pivot product and methods of delivery, but not your brand or your values—who you are and what made you a success.
  • Don’t be afraid to partner with others in your space. “A rising tide sinks all boats.”
  • I can never imagine working for someone else. How about you?