This week, Tourism Startups Success meets Richard Cantave in NY. He is the founder and CEO of Haitian Nomad LLC—a company he founded after traveling the world and back to more than 50 countries while following his passion and working with organizations like Reach Out Volunteers. Fluent in four languages (English, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish) with necessary Khmer skills, the Haitian Nomad organizes epic group experiences around the world in places like Haiti, Cuba, Cambodia and soon France and Egypt just to name a few. Haitian Nomad also offers personalized tours and services in Haiti for travelers wishing to visit Haiti through the lens of a local. Richard has a Keen interest in working with organizations working to defend human rights around the world while advocating on the front lines to alleviate the pain and suffering of children in all corners of the globe. On every Haitian Nomad trip to his motherland Haiti, Richard organizes a giving-back project aimed at reinforcing the local economy long term by buying supplies locally to respond to the immediate needs of the communities they visit.
1- Tell us a little bit about your background
– I was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti into a family who dedicated themselves to helping the less fortunate. My grandfather Lucien Cantave was president of the Rotary club of Port-au-Prince and took me under his wings at an early age to help the poor in Haiti on several giving back projects. My great uncle Philippe Cantave fulfilled his patriotic duties serving several high-profile posts such as Consul General of Haiti in Ottawa. The love for my country and giving back was instilled in me very early on. I am a product of the Freres de l’instruction Chretienne, Saint Louis de Gonzague, and College Frantz Paillere before moving to New York in summer of 2003 and graduating high school at Mount Vernon High School. I attended the State University of New York at Old Westbury and hold a bachelor of science in criminology. Shortly after, I fell in love with a beautiful girl who took me on my first vacation to Costa Rica where I got bit by the travel bug and never looked back since.
2- What is your best advice for people who want to get into the travel business or people who just want to travel more as you do?
-Well for one, the biggest misconception people have about traveling is that it’s expensive. Traveling the world is CHEAP! The absolute BEST advice I can give someone who wants to travel the world is to be flexible! There’s no other “secret” …the more flexible you are with your schedule and destinations the cheapest it is to travel the world. If you want to get into the travel business, my best advice is that you need to have an expertise. You also need to have lots of reliable contacts in all the places you intend to operate, and you should have access to top-notch business credit cards with travel perks and Travel Insurance.
3-You own a travel business, and you travel with many groups in different parts of the world, How do you explain your success?
-My success has at its foundation my personal character, pride and willingness to work hard not just to succeed but deliver on my promises before seeing profits. My motto is “Passion before Profit.” You treat others how you’d like to be treated, do the right thing every single time and understand that no expense to satisfy every single guest is ever lost, it’s an investment in self. I must also admit that having people around me who believe in me, support me and surrounding myself with like-minded individuals played a significant role in the continued success of the Haitian Nomad brand. Being able to Connect with people on a more personal level is also a skill that is invaluable.
4- During our conversation you mention you work on Wall Street, is it something related to your business?
– I wish haha! Although I am well invested in the Cryptocurrency and try to diversify my investment portfolios, my Wall street address is more meaningful—I work on the foreign policy team of a non-profit organization called Human Rights First. We help people who are persecuted in their country find freedom in the U.S. while also working to combat human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. Interesting though, the organization was formed as a committee of lawyers who were the first to represent the Haitian boat people reaching the shores of Florida in the late 80’s early 90’s.
5- What is next for your company, how do you see your business in 5 years?
– Next, we are working to take over the world—literally haha. We have lots of exciting things coming up. Events like: Diner en Blanc Haiti November 2017, NYE in Cambodia this year, hosting a group of tourists in Haiti for the PAP international Jazz festival in January. Our signature trip to Cap Haitien over Memorial weekend in May 2018, an epic Trip to the French Riviera: Nice, Monaco, St Tropez June 29th-July 5th, Our annual Montreal Weekend getaway in July/August, and an Epic NYE trip to the pyramids of Egypt at the end of 2018. In 5 years we hope to extend our reach globally to include more countries. Most importantly discover more of Haiti and help bridge the gap for the first generation Haitian-Americans who have always wanted to connect back with their culture—hoping that with the knowledge, education, and capital they might have available they will invest in the building of a future more prosperous Haiti we have all been praying for.