The Lokal Story: How Our Experiences Led to a New Kind of Travel Company

The Lokal Story: How Our Experiences Led to a New Kind of Travel Company

By Dave Koken

How our experiences in rainforest conservation, microfinance and tech inspired us to start a new kind of travel company.

Our Early Adventures

The eclectic mix of adventures that led us to start Lokal include visits to over 50 countries, a televised interview in a turtle costume, plates full of fried insects and one severe case of dengue. Our team spent years working in international microfinance and producing documentaries about rainforest conservation and Syrian refugees. We didn’t have a grand plan to start this company. We’re just a group of nonprofit professionals, storytellers and tech enthusiasts who believe connecting with local communities is an essential part of all good adventures.

Community Connections

Along the way, we met hundreds of inspiring local people who were working long days and multiple jobs to support their families. We were surprised to see how many of them were turning to tourism to help boost incomes, conserve land and protect cultural heritage.

A Local Need

We found that local communities and families were offering travelers incredible opportunities to experience local life, but their unique guesthouses and pristine swimming holes were often empty. At the same time, we were connecting with like-minded travelers from around the world who were looking for authentic, local experiences, but were frustrated by impersonal booking sites or just overwhelmed with travel information.

Lokal Begins

Communities were missing out on much-needed tourism dollars and travelers were missing out on amazing local experiences. Someone needed to help make the connection. We thought, why not us? As luck would have it, Dave, Eytan and Marco returned from their international adventures and all happened to join the same co-working space in downtown Los Angeles.  A natural partnership formed and Lokal was born.

About the author


Dave Koken

One of Lokal's co-founders, Dave has lived, worked and traveled in over 30 countries including 2 1/2 years in SE Asia where he developed partnerships for the nonprofit Kiva. The incredible kindness, warmth, and entrepreneurial spirit of the people he’s met around the world led him to create Lokal. He loves connecting people and exploring new places. These days, he lives in LA with his wife and dog (who happen to be his favorite travel buddies).

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