Everyone is going nuts over a couple of high school sweethearts that broke the Internet last week.
Meet 23-year-old Jeremy Kong and 21-year old Lily Chin, who’s joint Instagram account grew from a pitiful 21 followers – who were mostly family and friends, to a whopping 173k in just 3 weeks!
They had never left Asia when they embarked on what was meant to be a two-month backpacking stint starting in Malaysia.
But by using their combined photography and graphic design skills, as well as years of experience in the hospitality industry, the couple turned their trip into an eight-month adventure across SouthEast Asia, staying in some of the most luxurious five-star resorts in the world — for free.
Their envy-inducing Instagram snaps have earned them an Influencer-worthy following of more than 173,000 on their Instagram account, from a base of around 21 when they left.
Eventually, they began earning money from sponsored content jobs from luxury hotels and brands.
They calculated that during their travels — to Morocco, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand — over a period of just two months they had stayed in accommodation worth over £20,000.
So how did they do it?
Business Insider caught up with the couple, who are now back in Singapore.
Scroll down to find out how they went from “backpackers to influencers” in a matter of months.
It all comes down to being Instagram-savvy, according to the couple. Since starting the trip, the couple have racked up a following of more than 60,000 Instagram followers between them — a slight increase from the 1,000 they had between them when they left London.
Their trip began in Morocco, the start of what they thought would be a two-month trip. They spent three weeks having a traditional “touristy” holiday, says Valeikaite. “Everything was booked in advance and super organised.” All the while, they were taking photos.
After two to three months of taking pictures, their Instagram followers “started increasing at the speed of light,” according to Valeikaite. “People want to see beautiful places and picture themselves there.”
However, Coppola said that despite their big following, the interest wasn’t initially coming from companies.”We were thinking of going back home — we never would have imagined doing an eight-month trip with money we had,” he said.
But when they hit SouthEast Asia things started to take a turn.
In Cambodia, the pair, who have years of experience working in the hospitality industry in London, landed jobs managing a resort on the island of Koh Rong, where they spent nearly three months.
From tree houses to yet more private pools, the pair began collaborating with private villas in Cambodia who would put them up in ultimate luxury for free. One of the villa’s is pictured below.
After doing a couple of interviews with the media — including Business Insider — they started to gain even more traction with their posts on Instagram, and more companies started to approach them for collaborations.
Suddenly the dream of becoming an Instagram Influencer didn’t seem so far off.
Contracts started to roll in. In Vietnam (pictured below), the couple signed a contract for a campaign with Fusion Resorts for an entire month. There was no money exchange — their pay in luxury accommodation, travel, food and drink…
Which led to yet more private pools and villas.
The luxury hotel brand Aman invited the couple to go and stay at one of its resorts in Sri Lanka, a country that they weren’t originally planning to visit.