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Prime site for many lonely planet travellers.

Byline: By David Williamson Western Mail

An internet success story is banishing the loneliness of travel by helping customers worldwide find globe-trotting companions.

Companions 2 Travel, based in Corwen, created an international community of people who like to travel but whose circumstances mean they do not have someone to share the experience.

More than 300,000 people a year are visiting www.companions 2travel.co.uk, the service has more than 10,000 members across the globe and is growing at the rate of 100-150 members a week.

Launched by Nathan Green and Rhys Taylor, with two staff, Companions 2 Travel has won a place on the High Growth Programme, delivered by Entrepreneur Action on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Innovation and Networks of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Mr Green, who also runs a successful website design company, Notcon Internet, said, 'We travel a lot and the idea arose out of conversations with others.

'There are thousands of people who would love someone to share their holidays involving such things as walking, painting, cooking or sports, or perhaps a safari, but they wouldn't know how to go about finding someone.

'We researched the net and were convinced we could offer a better service for people looking for a travel companion than what was currently on offer.'

People are free to browse the site and see basic information, such as location and travel preferences, about members who have registered. However, direct contact is only available to members who have paid the pounds 25 fee.

Mr Green added, 'We make it very clear we are not a dating agency. Our members are aged from 18 to 87, our service is unique, and the universal feedback is that it is friendly, easy to use and professional. We have been delighted with its success so far and we are currently seeking investment capital to expand.'

The start-up is fiercely ambitious about the development of the brand, and hopes to be associated with travel adventures in the way Friends United has become synonymous with school reunions.

While many customers are widowed or divorced, others are happily married but have a spouse who does not want to travel.

The website has rolling travel news, as well as reports of events which could be the centrepiece for an interesting holiday.

But behind the creativity is hard-headed business acumen.

Mr Green said, 'The aim of the business is to either [have] a trade sale or float it. That's the ultimate goal, within three to five years.'

In the meantime, the team is seeking to push forward the overseas customer base. 'Although we have got members from all over the world, we are only marketing in the UK,' MrGreen said.

Funding possibilities are now being explored for this stage of expansion.

David Lush, Entrepreneur Action's operations director for North & Mid Wales said, 'The programme is designed to provide fast-track support worth up to pounds 40,000 to companies with excellent potential.

'I would urge all new companies anticipating high growth to contact us.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 5, 2006
Words:505
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