Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is world traveller Jeff Campagna, who launched independent, ad-free sub-compact publication Compass Cultura to celebrate in-depth, dynamic travel journalism. Here’s why he’s confident this return to traditional journalistic principles will see a resurgence online within five years…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Compass Cultura is an alternative travel publication. We publish vivid, long-form journalism about people and places all over the world on an easy-to-read, responsive, advertisement-free website. We don’t publish puff pieces, round-ups, how-to-travel blurbs, or sponsored posts of any kind.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
As a journalist, I write for a few major North American outlets as well as indie magazines published around the world. Although there is a plethora of great content out there, in these outlets and others I recognized an unexplored (or poorly explored) niche in publishing in-depth, dynamic, well-reported digital travel journalism. It was from that realization that Compass Cultura was born.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
As a semi-nomadic writer, I’ve travelled to many countries around the world. But there are still many places that I know absolutely nothing about. Being introduced to these places through the stories of Compass Cultura contributors is extremely rewarding. It inspires. And it feels amazing to be able to share these rare and colourful stories with our readers. But finding these sorts of thought-provoking, high-quality features in a market currently dominated by native advertisements, click-bait and drab editorial can be quite a challenge.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still travelling. Still writing. And working with a progressive and talented group of writers to make the content on Compass Cultura better with each issue. In the next five years, web publishing is going to change drastically. New possibilities will emerge. New platforms will be developed. And the reading public will really start to look for quality alternatives online, which will drive innovation. I only hope Compass Cultura can keep up with the torrent of innovation and continue to provide subscribers with cutting-edge content.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
As a journalist, I am not subjected to any one major challenge. Instead, I am subjected to a sort of constant, nagging challenge of convincing editors to commission me to write articles. This challenge is never truly overcome. It is simply oppressed by marginal improvements in my writing and my ability to detect a good, publishable story.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money does not equal happiness. Far from it, actually. I’ve met people all over this great, big world, most of them with far less money than many of my family and friends have, yet a large majority of these people were happy despite their lack of means. To me, success is being able to create something every day and having enough money for my wife and I to enjoy the simple things in life like arepas and cold beer.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
To a mid-level journalist, milestones are a lot like challenges. They don’t come out of nowhere and rock the boat and change everything. It’s just a battle of proportionate ups and downs; mini-triumphs and mini-apocalypses. If I had to choose a milestone so far, it would be the launch of Compass Cultura. The response has been amazing and the future for Compass Cultura looks very bright.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I’m certainly not one to dole out advice. In my opinion, work on things that make you happy. If you’re happy, you’ll give it your all. And if work that once made you happy no longer does, find something else.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Currently, I am living in Panama. In downtown Panama City, there is a bistro called Market. They have an $8 hamburger that is possibly one of the most consistently delicious things I’ve ever eaten. But I used to be a working chef, so most of the time my wife and I would prefer to stay in and cook, drink bottles of cheap wine, and watch Orange Is The New Black.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Reading books, travelling with my wife and contemplating the future of things.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
This is a very, very difficult question for me to answer. I’ve spent the last five years with no house, no car, and no belongings beyond what fits in my large backpack. In the past eight months alone, I’ve been from Morocco to Romania to Serbia to Chile to Colombia. At this point, going back home to Toronto feels more like travelling than going elsewhere.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Who comes up with these questions? Haha. If I had a theme song, I guess it would be something cheesy like Roger Miller’s King of the Road.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Yikes. I’m not sure I even want to think about it.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Through Compass Cultura, we plan to donate half of our profits each month to charities like World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam International. Travel takes its toll on a place and the people who live there. It’s our responsibility to mitigate that damage as best we can.
What to you is notable?
Doing something that has never been done before. Or doing something that has been done before, but doing it better.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Personally, iPhone. But when coding for Compass Cultura, all of the above.