Jeff Jenkins, Chubby Diaries.

Jeff Jenkins - Founders First

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Austin ’20 Challenge Member

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Chubby Diaries is the number one online platform for plus-size travelers, according to Founder Jeff Jenkins.  “I want to be the leading source for chubby travelers,” he said. As the covid-plagued world slowly starts to open, he’s excited to start hosting group trips at the end of the year or in early 2022. He wants to redefine what travel looks like for chubby people.

Accessibility, space, weight limits, and size restrictions continue to be the biggest pain points that plus-sized travelers face. “Seventy percent of America is considered overweight or obese,” Jeff said, “yet the travel industry hasn’t adapted to these new stats, so I’m bringing recognition to it.”

There’s also a lack of media representation when it comes to ads or just how people are displayed on social media when it comes to travel content. A lot of times travel is marketed as a fit-looking, white demographic, including outdoor activities like hiking and things like that. Chubby Diaries has worked to change not only the advertising but the entire industry to make it more accessible for plus-sized people. Companies are now making more accessible products, including hiking shoes, backpacks, or changing their weight and size limits on trips, figuring out new ways to do excursions. Chubby Diaries provides recommendations to its users for tourist companies and products that tailor products and services to the chubby crowd. 

During Covid, Jeff pivoted out of necessity to consulting work and it paid off for him, establishing a whole new source of revenue. He provides consulting services to companies to help make their products and services more plus-size friendly, which also helps “handi-capable” people as well, he said. That was a much needed pivot in a covid environment, Jeff said. Luckily, he joined the Founders First Challenge program right before the pandemic started and learned the necessary knowledge, tools, and resources to make that pivot.

“I get to be not just the conduit between the brands, but also get to be a consultant to travel brands so that they are rethinking and innovating their way of how they can be more accessible to plus-size travelers, “ Jeff said. 

His services have received rave revenues from his clients. As one CEO told him, “You know what? I’ve never thought about this at all. I don’t know why it is not a thing that we’re doing.”

In particular, Jeff credits Founders First with helping him develop his ability to pitch. “It forced me to really get a hold of ‘my ask,’ what I was bringing to the table, who I was, and how I communicate that to investors,” he said.

His advice for other entrepreneurs? Dream big. Find those unimaginable dreams that get you excited to wake up every morning, that give you goals that are just out of this world. “That’s what took me to the next level and keeps me motivated to keep reaching for the stars,” Jenkins said. 

Here at Founders First, we know he’s going to reach them. He’s already racking up awards, including 30 Influential People in Travel, Lonely Planet’s Travels Best Award, and the North American Travel Journalist Association Award. He’s also a founding member of the Black Travel Alliance. 

Congratulations to Jeff and Chubby Diaries on all their success!

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