"Fly me to the moon...."
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Frank Sinatra certainly said it right. And after a long day at work, the moon might not sound far enough away. You would however, settle for say, Bora Bora, the Canary Islands or maybe a trip around the Amalfi Coast, right? For many of us, these destinations are out of our price range, but new travel startup Wanderfly provides interesting travel spots for everyone—no matter their budget.
“Wanderfly is a travel recommendation engine that helps people discover where they can go based on their budgets and interests,” said 29-year-old Christie Liu, one of the four co-founders.
Liu, along with former University of Pennsylvania classmates Jorge Trujillo, Cezary Pietrzak and Evan Schneyer started Wanderfly in August 2010 and have managed to raise $1 million in funding so far.
“We looked at the industry and said it’s very traditional with a lot of players and all framing the way you search in a similar way with a laundry list of prices,” explains Liu. “We said that’s a boring experience and often stressful, so we decided to put great design, great user experience and killer technology to fix this problem.”
And it’s a fun site to use--gone are the boring searches that spit out a litany of price points that other travel sites provide. Wanderfly users can select what they want from their getaway including art, adventure, and shopping--along with their budget--then it’s off to the races. The search results come with photos and information about the different places that meet users’ desires and even if the destinations aren’t a perfect fit, they can provide inspiration and spur new travel ideas.
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Trujillo said the best way to use the site is to leave yourself open to traveling anywhere in the world. “I’d just say put in rough dates, put in a few things you’re into and just hit go and start browsing. If you don’t find a place you like in 15 minutes, give me a call and we will fix it.”
Six Shooter Q&A with the Wanderfly team
1. What is the best and worst thing about building a startup?
Trujillo: The best thing about building a startup is quite simply the freedom you have to develop the technologies you think are promising, set your own direction and reap your own rewards. The flip side to this is of course the uncertainty and lack of resources compared to working at an established company, but with a good team and a promising idea, the tradeoffs are generally worth it.
Pietrzak: Best: meeting amazing people who create things. Worst: thinking about making money.
2. Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
Trujillo: Personally, I draw inspiration from people like Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg. If they were able to channel their ideas and passion into amazing businesses that have created fantastic value in the economy, then I have to believe it is possible for us as well.
3. What is your favorite quote and why?
Trujillo: In this context, I really like Richard Branson's quip about opportunities: "Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming." It serves as a reminder that there is always an opportunity to move the business forward if you are persistent and keep looking.
Pietrzak: "Do or do not - there is not try" -Yoda
Liu: This is my creative director's favorite quote, but she just said it and I quite like it: Praise the bridge that carries you over.
4. What do you wish you had more of: time or money?
Trujillo: To some extent money and time are interchangeable, since money can pay for additional resources so you can move faster. Given where we are now, I'd wish we had more capital, as it would allow us to really accelerate some of the initiatives we have around richer content and mobile.
Liu: More time to make more money. More money to buy more time.
Pietrzak: Time. Money will come when you do things you enjoy.
5. Why does travel need another site?
Trujillo: Travel as an industry has not really benefited from the waves of innovation on the Internet that we've seen from companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. A lot of the major OTAs still sport user experiences identical to what was available in the late 90s and early 2000s, so we saw this as a great opportunity to provide customers with a more rich way to discover new places and plan travel.
Pietrzak: Online travel is painstakingly boring. There's no emotion in the category, even though travel is one of the most amazing things you can do.
6. What word defines a successful entrepreneur and what word defines a successful startup?
Liu: Entrepreneur: guts, Startup: sustainability
Pietrzak: Entrepreneur: passionate, Startup: fearless
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