Ruzwana Bashir is one of those talented people who could have taken a variety of paths to success. But Bashir, who grew up in North Yorkshire town in a small community of British-Pakistani families, knew from a young age that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and start her own business.

Bashir fulfilled that entrepreneurial dream before she turned 30. As founder and CEO of Peek, Bashir has gotten the full startup experience in a short time. With Peek.com she is already disrupting the $100 billion global activities market. Peek.com is one-stop shop where travelers and locals can book the best experiences (from wine tours to swimming with dolphins), and the company provides robust online booking tools for activity operators to help them better run their businesses. The company has already been labeled “The OpenTable of activities” by CNBC, and selected as one the ‘10 Most Innovative Companies in Travel’ by Fast Company alongside Airbnb and Google.

Bashir used her experience and contacts at startups like the Gilt Groupe and Artsy to secure millions in funding from the likes of Google’s Eric Schmidt, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and TPG’s David Bonderman. By 2014, she’d been interviewed by Charlie Rose and was named by Fortune as one of the 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and by Forbes as one of their “30 Under 30” in Technology

Bashir credits HBS as the source of her decision to leap into a high tech venture. Having excelled academically, Bashir studied Economics at Oxford and became the first British Asian woman to become president of the Oxford Union, the famed debate society that spawned a long line of notable British political figures. “At Oxford, I didn’t have a firm idea on my career path,” she told an interviewer. “I just knew I wanted to work with smart people and learn about how to build a business.”

After graduating, Bashir moved to London, joined Goldman Sachs and later the Blackstone Group with the intention of a career in finance. But the entrepreneurial itch she felt as a child returned when she attended HBS (MBA 2011) and became intrigued by the startup culture, specifically in the high tech space, and made the decision to eschew the lucrative world of private equity for the lure of the Silicon Valley.

While at HBS, she had a chance to work with Kevin Ryan at Gilt Groupe which inspired her decision to head to San Francisco with little more than an impressive resume and an idea. The idea for Peek came to Bashir after she had been planning a trip to Istanbul for her birthday. “I spent 20 hours looking up things to do and I wished there was a one-stop shop to book amazing activities online,” Bashir told Charlie Rose. In her typical relentless fashion, she searched for the perfect partner with the technology savvy to build the company. She teamed up with Oskar Bruening, an MIT graduate with vast technology experience in the startup world.

The goal today, Bashir said, is to move the world from one of materialism, where we buy products (such as houses or cars or clothes), to one of experiences, where we focus on having special moments with the people we care about. Despite all the consumerism of the last 50 years, numerous studies have shown that spending our money on experiences makes us much happier than buying things. Part of the allure of Peek is to not only make sure we’re able to more easily access and book the experiences that increase our well-being, but also to help small activity businesses all over the world to come online for the first time (as many don’t have websites and less than 20% have online booking,)

What are your current challenges with Peek?

Scaling — we currently have nearly 50 people in the Peek team, and are growing fast, so we’re spending a lot of time thinking about how we maintain our culture and values as we get bigger. Some areas we’re tackling are pretty practical, such as what our operator onboarding process should look like or how we structure our meetings, whilst others involve the larger elements of our organizational design and strategy. It’s challenging but incredibly important as the processes we build now will shape our future.

How about finding the right people?

The talent that you bring into your organization will ultimately determine your success, so we take recruiting very seriously. In the early days we made a lot of hiring mistakes because we didn’t have a great process in place, as we relied a little too strongly on gut instincts and didn’t utilize backchannel references enough. We learned from those mistakes and now make sure we define all the skills and competencies we care most about upfront, as well as the cultural values that are needed for someone to be successful at Peek. For example, being curious (with a desire to learn and be the best you can be) is a very important characteristic for Peeksters to have, whether they are joining as an engineer or a salesperson. People who don’t have this quality won’t be a fit at Peek, and shouldn’t make it through our interview process.

Also several team members are always involved in the hiring process, and everyone considers recruiting as one of their core responsibilities. Overall we push to increase the quality of the team with every hire, and realize we have to be patient in finding the right individuals — rushing the process or lowering your bar never ends well.

Now that you’ve been at it for a while, how does it feel to be an entrepreneur?

I think the media has a tendency to highlight only the fun parts of being an entrepreneur when, in reality, there should be an awareness of the tough elements too. You have to be okay with consistently working 16-hour days, not having any financial security and giving up a lot of your personal life (especially in terms of spending time with family or friends). I think generally to really excel at what you do, you have to have an amazing commitment and work ethic, but startups add an extra dimension of stress and a need for extraordinary levels of persistence. However it is pretty amazing to create something from scratch and control your own destiny, so I still think it’s absolutely worth it.

What makes the sacrifices worthwhile for you?

I’m really inspired and motivated by the work I do every day, as with Peek we have an opportunity to have a large and very positive impact on the world - we help people to create wonderful memories and empower small business owners to succeed online. I’m also fortunate because I get to collaborate with and learn from some of the smartest teammates I’ve ever met. When I’m not at work, I find myself constantly thinking about work, and on days off I do activities and am constantly emailing the team with learnings and ideas from these ‘field trips’! The vast majority of my life goes toward the work I’m doing right now, so I think if you’re going to build a start-up you have to be very passionate about what you’re doing.