Name: Tony Wheeler Nationality: British Companies run: Lonely Planet From humble beginnings, Lonely Planet Publications has grown into one of biggest guidebook companies in the world –and one of the most recognisable brands in travel. On the eve of the book documenting the rise and rise of the formerly ‘shoestring’ orientated book company, Tony Wheeler tells cmypitch.com how he and wife Maureen grew the company from a kitchen-table set up in 1973, to an operation with 500 titles, offices on three continents, and a significant web and TV presence. The Wheelers travelled overland to Australia in 1972, and armed on arrival in Sydney with 27 cents (and an MBA from London Business School under Tony's belt), they launched the company that would eventually controversially be sold to BBC Worldwide in 2007. In the year to March of that year, the company was riding high on sales of £810m. The Wheelers still have a 25% stake, and are now donating more time to their philanthropic project, Planet Wheeler. Wheeler relays the stresses of getting the business off the ground, the joys of running a business as a couple, and why they quickly had to go global. He extols the virtues of digital media, why they chose business publishers Crimson for their new title, candidly recalls the day he realised he wasn’t running the same company he started, and explains why they felt it was time to sell up to BBC Worldwide.
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