I like to switch things up from time to time to keep things fresh. Today, I’m hosting my first interview on the site, by profiling travel magazine Off Track Planet. With articles such as “Where to Get a Tattoo in Madrid” and “A Frenchman’s Guide to Paris for White Trash Americans”, this isn’t your typical travel magazine; which is why I like them. Off Track Planet definitely marches to their own beat and has a young, edgy demographic. During a time when many magazines, and especially travel magazines, are closing up shop, Off Track Planet is launching their magazine. My interest was especially piqued by their “stock option” payment for writers, which certainly is new territory for a publication. I’m curious to see the success of this model of payment and the general success of the magazine. Editor-in-Chief Anna Starostinetskaya was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule recently to answer a few questions for me.
Tell me a little bit about Off Track Planet.
OTP was started after CEO, Freddie Pikovsky, returned from a trip to Europe. He saw the immense value of independent travel and the need for a travel resource that would inspire, inform and help 18-25 year old Americans to have similar, life-changing, travel experiences. Freddie, the co-founders of OTP (consisting of myself and Diego Saez-Gil, the CFO) and a group of international writers and support staff, continue to pursue this goal by pumping out unique travel content that resonates with our demographic.
How often will the magazine be coming out with a new issue?
At this juncture, our print magazine (issue no. 2) is scheduled for publication in June 2011 and plans for issue #3 will be determined thereafter.
While many magazines are closing shop, you guys are launching? Why now?
We’re badass like that. They say no, we say fuck yes! Our demographic has grown in recent years despite the world’s economic issues. As economies crash and people try to save cash on travel, staying at luxury hotels and taking expensive cruises is no longer a feasible option. Independent (backpacking) travel is where it’s at! Spreading the word about the transformational qualities of backpacking travel engages an audience previously unaware of the option. Telling people they can stay at a hostel for dirt cheap, eat street food, attend free parties and take a plane ride for the cost of a hot dog, all while experiencing the wonder of world cultures, will never go out of style.
CEO/Founder, Freddie Pikovsky, also added the following:
Our company isn’t built to succeed on selling a magazine, which is exactly why we don’t charge for it. The future of publishing is on the web in conjunction with mobile apps. Our magazine looks like something you would pay for but it’s our way of giving out something really cool, for free! We get it out directly into the hands of our audience by distributing it to hostels and college campuses around the world. You also have to realize, anyone can publish a website overnight. It takes the effort and dedication of an entire team to produce a print magazine, which shows we’re serious!
Tell us a little bit about the stock option program for writers.
Our Stock Option Program is designed to compensate our writers in a unique way. Everyone that works for us owns a little part of the company. The more we do as a group toward our mission, the more everyone benefits (as opposed to the limited benefits of each individual receiving a bi-monthly check). The value of our work, and the strength of our commitment, is thus increased innumerably.
What tips would you give to people who would like to contribute for OTP?
We value all contributions to OTP and open our doors to any and all contributions. As far as tips go, we like things that are edgy, off-beat, with a good dose of sexiness, debauchery, adventure and fun. We love people that are passionate about travel and can grasp our tone and run with it.
Anything else you would like to tell people about the magazine?
OTP is growing as an e-zine, print magazine and general independent travel resource. Our growth is attributed to the support we have received from like-minded travelers, partners and companies. This community is a force to be reckoned with and the future of independent travel is bright. At OTP, we believe that a better-traveled, 18-25 year old American population (the future leaders of this country) is the key to resolving current political issues stemming from intolerance and cultural misunderstanding. OTP is looking to build a better America through independent travel and in turn, a more aware, sympathetic and peaceful world.