adventure. travel. life
founder, Brennan Basnicki
It’s safe to say that adventure and travel are in my blood. My parents met windsurfing at North Winds Beach (Ontario, Canada) in the early 80’s, got to know each other ski patrolling the following winter, and I came along soon after. My mother had a 30+ year career as a flight attendant for Air Canada; I was on my first ski trip at the age of two.
Having spent most of my life in Toronto and Collingwood Ontario, I’ve spent the last eight years in the US, UK, and most recently in Lisbon. I grew up a ski racer, raced FIS my last two years, and then race coached for three. I was never the best racer among my friends, often opting for powder skiing trips to Whistler over race training camps in Vermont. In 2016 I learned to kiteboard and immediately became addicted (started to hit 10m+ on the Woo last fall).
Professionally, the previous 10 years I was a quant. Most recently I was a director at a $4 billion quantitative hedge fund in NYC. Living in West Village, kitesurfing in the Hamptons on weekends, taking ski trips out to Revelstoke… life was pretty good.
I'm not hesitant to share this, I worked hard to get there, and life hasn’t always been roses. Before NYC I spent three years in Springfield Illinois working at the state teachers’ pension plan. Springfield IL has frequently been ranked in the top ten worse cities to live in the US.
I joined as an analyst, was promoted to senior analyst, and then portfolio manager. There I managed a $7 billion external hedge fund portfolio and sat down with some of the most iconic hedge fund managers (Ray Dalio, Cliff Asness, Carl Icahn, etc). Alongside work, I studied every weekend and earned the CFA, CMT, and CAIA charters. As a single, outgoing, 30-year-old adventurer, those three years in Springfield were a massive sacrifice.
Life as a teen had its own challenges. My father was on the top floor of the North Tower on 9/11. My mother, still a flight attendant at the time, was on a layover in Germany that day. Things were difficult for quite a while; my sister and mother are still coping with mental health issues.
However, in the face of adversity we had incredible achievements. In the years following my mother founded the Canadian National Day of Service Foundation (CNDSF) and the Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT). After a decade of efforts, the two organizations had multiple pieces of legislation passed in Canada and have received extensive recognition. Some of my previous engagements involved meetings with President Obama, Prime Ministers Steven Harper & Justin Trudeau, and Pope John Paul II. My involvement has been lesser in recent years, however I still support both as a board member.
My mother led those efforts and faced enormous hurdles; she continues to inspire me today. However I’ve inherited a significant amount of perseverance from both parents. Pictured bottom left is my dad “sand-skiing” in 1978. I am often told I am a stark version of my father; the ultimate compliment to me. He took risks and forged his own path, opting not to manage the family hardware store (initially to the dismay of my grandfather), but rather pursue a career in fintech. After struggling in his early years, he also achieved a significant amount of success, first with Siemens and later BEA (acquired by Oracle in 2008).
I’m not a traditional tech founder, and I wasn’t looking to become an entrepreneur. I had developed a comfortable career for myself. But after years of experiencing the same problem planning trips, I couldn’t ignore this opportunity any longer. There’ll be challenges along this new path. But as my favorite photographer Chris Burkard likes to remind us…
“Anything that's worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer a little bit”.