The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is known as “the world’s toughest row” with participants rowing over 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua.
Perhaps not a situation many entrepreneurs find themselves in but Guy Rigby and David Murray, the team members of “The Entrepreneur Ship”, decided to take on this immense challenge last year and are soon set to row the massive distance as the oldest (combined age is 124) team to complete the journey.
Guy was a great friend of David’s father, Richard Murray, and they were boat racing partners. Unfortunately, Richard passed away in 2017. Now in his late sixties, Guy found himself feeling a little despondent about the future.
“I remember having a conversation with someone about the meaning of life and just thinking that I couldn’t carry on with the rest of my life doing the same daily routine. I wanted to do something real, something to challenge and excite me. I would be too scared to climb a mountain and I’m not capable of running marathons back-to-back, but I have spent a lot of time mucking about on boats.”
Ready for something new and definitely not starting small, Guy reached out to David, an extreme sports enthusiast who has completed six Ironman events, to ask if he would be interested in joining him on the Talisker journey. David had never rowed before but was immediately enthused by the idea.
“It was definitely a leap of faith, but I said yes pretty quickly”.
Both Guy and David are highly experienced in the world of business; Guy is currently Chair of Entrepreneurial Services at Smith & Williamson and a member of the ScaleUp Group. David is a Co-Founder of Hot Smoked and has invested in social entrepreneur startups including The Charity Fleetcare. Despite the change from an office to the ocean, they have approached the Talisker Challenge with the transferable skills learnt from starting their own businesses: creating a plan of action, recruiting a reliable support team, raising money to buy assets, and learning how to operate their equipment as a team. Years in commerce have also shown Guy and David how ruthless the business world can be. The Entrepreneur Ship team are using the challenge as the perfect opportunity to raise money for UnLtd, The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.
“I’ve spent my life working alongside entrepreneurs helping to grow their businesses and I know how much they benefit local communities and the people they work with. We wanted to raise a meaningful amount of money for charity and when UnLtd appeared on the horizon, it was ideal because it is an organisation we knew we could do a lot for. We knew that many of our contacts would be happy to support such a good cause.”
UnLtd is a charity that is supporting entrepreneurs from marginalised communities and tackling the barriers when it comes to funding.
“We want to help people that don’t have access to “the bank of Mum and Dad”, who are part of under-represented communities / ethnic minorities who deserve the same opportunities to get started or to grow.”
To date, Guy and David have raised over £500,000 with the support of sponsors like Smith & Williamson, Mishcon de Reya, and Crowdcube. They have also received support from organisations like Tech Nation, Founders Forum, and London Tech Week. The money raised will be used to help social entrepreneurs grow their business ventures, especially those who have struggled to access funding in the past.
“It is a privilege to be able to give people the chance in life they deserve and might not have had otherwise. We’re hoping to broadcast some of the stories of the people supported by UnLtd during our journey. We have various markers along the route and each of these will be a catalyst to celebrate one of the entrepreneurs that UnLtd has backed and tell their story as part of our campaign.”
Guy and David are set to leave the Canaries on 12th December. Filled with anticipation, excitement, and maybe a few nerves, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is sure to test the duo both physically and mentally. We wish them luck on their voyage.