eLab Featured Startup: The Worldwide Travel Network
In the summer of 2017, Brynne Merkley ('20) hoped to bike across Canada, and Colby Triolo ('19) dreamed of backpacking across Europe. Unable to find suitable travel companions, neither had the ability to pursue these adventures. Instead of traveling, they both spent the summer in Boston working corporate internships, where they met and decided to develop a solution to their shared dilemma of having no one to adventure with. Brynne and Colby created The Worldwide Travel Network, formerly known as My WanderList, "a platform that connects compatible wanderlusters from around the world to pursue their travel adventures together". When they returned to Cornell this past fall, they applied to the eLab program and began developing their start-up. Like all eLab start-ups, the duo began with market research to determine whether a need truly existed for their service. After speaking to over 100 recent college graduates about their travel preferences and roadblocks, Brynne and Colby's suspicions were confirmed: time and money are not the only factors preventing people from traveling. Not having the right people to travel with at the right time often poses an additional setback. One participant said she "wished a Tinder for travel existed" without even knowing her interviewers intended to create such a service. Over winter break, Brynne and Colby completed the simplest version of their platform, which they launched on January 15. Similar to other services connecting strangers, like Uber or Airbnb, Brynne and Colby set establishing trust among consumers as a top priority. Marketing primarily through social media, The Worldwide Travel Network partners with travel bloggers and Instagrammers to spread awareness while increasing the platform's credibility. Brynne and Colby continue making improvements to the website, hoping that the upcoming summer travel season brings an increase in user sign-ups. To check out their website, click here.