HCX Campus Celebrity: Tom Charman

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This week at HCX we had the opportunity to speak to Exeter’s successful entrepreneur, Tom Charman, co-founder and CMO of the start-up, KOMPAS, that’s going to get the whole world talking.

Campus Celebrity: Tom Charman

Year: 4

Course: Economics and Politics with European Studies

Welcome to HCX Tom, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. First things first, tell us about your business:

When did you come up with the idea of KOMPAS?

It was while I was out on my year abroad in Munich when myself and a fellow Exeter student wanted to really explore the city but not in the conventional way that's presented in guidebooks and online sites. So we took it upon ourselves to seek out street art spots, abandoned places, old WW2 bunkers, wacky cafés and more! At first it started out as a bit of fun but things quickly grew, and it’s then that we started to see the potential for what we’re doing now!

So, what exactly is KOMPAS?

Good question. KOMPAS uses Artificial Intelligence and other technologies to take your interests and present you with flexible itineraries based around you and your day. Just imagine that you’ve arrived in a new city and you don’t know where to go. We guide you around the city, taking you from A to B, and all the places that we take you to we know you’re probably going to enjoy, as they’re generated according to your interests. We’re your personal travel assistant that’s hidden away on your phone for when you need us most. The application is anything but static, as it’s constantly evolving around you.

What do you expect from KOMPAS over the next 6 months?

Well, first we’re looking to launch our mobile application on Android in January, followed by iOS in March. But we’re currently raising money through investors so that we can really create fast growth. We’re hoping that we’ll have 200 content curators around the world, and have some visibility in 50 cities worldwide (we’re already in 34)! We’re also aiming to be in New Orleans for a conference, so that we can help guide over 10,000 attendees around the city during the famous ‘jazz week’. It’s going to be a very exciting 6 months.

What did you recently get up to in Dublin?

The team and I were exhibiting at Web Summit, Europe’s largest technology conference, attended by over 30,000 people. It was a great opportunity, and I had the chance to meet people from Stripe, Google, Oracle, Accenture and more! We all worked so hard and it was an exhausting few days, so it was nice to be able to explore the city a little after the final day. It was great to go though, as we’ve made some fantastic contacts and good friends.

So you’re a real entrepreneur! Are you involved in the Exeter Entrepreneur’s Society?

Well I’m not sure I’d say that just yet but I’m certainly giving it a go! I was President during my second year, but this year I just haven’t had enough time to keep up with what’s been going on with them! They’re a great society though, and perfect for anyone thinking about or starting a business. I’ve made some friends for life, and it’s nice to see what everyone ends up doing.

Apart from this business, what else do you get up to in your free time?

At the moment, I’m going to have to admit to saying not much. Most of my time is split between final year studies and business, with the odd trip around the country for meetings. I also do quite a bit of business mentoring for various organizations. That said, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with everything going on, and it’s nice to get a little time off of work to catch-up with friends. I also explore Exeter a fair bit!

Tell us something interesting about you and your life.

Well, I’m no stranger to travelling and am also an avid skier so like to get away for at least a week a year. On a more ‘professional’ level, I had the opportunity to advise Lord Young on the Enterprise Report published by government at Downing Street, and I also had the opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace to see the outcome of some of the teams that I mentored in the iDEA award, created by The Duke of York.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

In 5 years time, I hope to be running KOMPAS with the team, and I hope to see it established as one of the best travel applications available for download. I’m hoping that I will also have had the chance to explore parts of South America and Russia as well, as I’ve never had the opportunity to really travel and learn about those cultures as much as I’d like to. I could also see myself living in Berlin, as there’s a great start-up scene and a really friendly vibe there.

Any off the beaten track recommendations in Exeter? We’d love to try them out!

Yes I know a few. Be sure to check out KOMPAS Exeter to see the things that we’ve been talking about, and if you know of any recommendations let us know. The Glorious Art House is a must, and The Pig and Pallet in Topsham is a great spot! But we’re always looking for new suggestions, and new writers so do get in touch. 

Where do we go if we want to find out a little more about KOMPAS?

Head over to www.kompasapp.com or check out our various social media channels to find out what we’re up to. We’re always around on campus too, so you’re more than welcome to come and say hi, we don’t bite! 

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About The Author

HCX Travel Editor 2015-16
Georgina is a final year Modern Languages student at the University of Exeter. Currently studying French, Spanish and Portuguese, Georgina loves to travel and has worked in Spain, France and Portugal, as well as having just travelled around South America. Full of stories, hints and tips for the keen student traveller, Georgina can't wait to get involved with HCX and help to inspire wanderlust in all of the readers.