Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yet another tech travel startup?

Another tech travel startup?  That's the first sentiment I get when I talk to investors or someone in the industry.

Here's what makes us different: Our team and our passion. Wait a minute, doesn't every founder say that about his team? Of course. Can most of them back it up with experiences that have made up their life so far? Probably not. So let me tell you a little bit about us, at the risk of sounding conceited. But I think it is important. We won't talk about our experience, since you can find that here.

I grew up in Mumbai, India and I still clearly remember that one class in middle school where my teacher described her trip to Machu Pichu and I still bother my wife about making a trip there soon. I stood first in Geography and History in India in high school and growing up I had three dreams - to become an astronaut.  to travel the world and to create a teleporting machine. I failed miserably at the first, clearly. I think I'm starting to realize the second having traveled to 5 continents and 26 countries in the past 5 years while being fully employed. As a child I was obsessed with building things and my favorite was an airport Lego set. Traverie is realizing my third dream of building a teleporting-like machine for everyone!

It doesn't end there. I met my wife in San Francisco, but only fell in love with her when we started traveling the world together. And guess what my wife does for a living?  Of course she's in the hospitality industry. We have a running joke between us - there is not a single day when someone in our immediate families is not traveling! We got married two years ago in Goa, a Portugese beach destination, after convincing our parents to have a destination wedding. I don't think either of us ever imagined getting married anywhere but in a beach destination! And that's where Tiffany comes in.

Founder stories are usually not that fun - high school buddies, co-workers etc. But this is how I met Tiffany. She showed up at my wedding in Goa, her first trip to India, as a plus-one.  Not only did she show up across the globe not knowing me or my wife, but she danced on stage to choreographed Bollywood music with my wife - talk about indulging in the culture! After that she traveled to Delhi where she stayed with my sister enroute to Agra and Jaipur. I've not met too may people who have traveled as much as Tiffany has at such a young age.  What are the most interesting stories I found?  Her determination to make a trip to Cuba by sneaking into the country through Mexico and her flying over Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Jimming, our technical co-founder, has the most incredible stories that we only find out through casual conversations. I only recently found out that Jimming was building the official Harvard "facebook" while Zuck was building the unofficial one. Other mysteries I did not know about Jimming - he swam from Alcatraz to SF, loves diving across the world with Belize being his favorite destination (he's currently diving in the Yucatan peninsula) and he had a six-pack at the age of 13. When I first got to know him, I remember him telling me that he travels pretty much every other weekend since his family is spread across the entire country. And what's more, he went all the way to Europe to buy his car and drive it on the Autobahn.

In all, we have traveled to over 50 countries and over 25 each. People who have helped us include a Berkeley MBA student, Sanjay, who has traveled to 66 countries and our summer social media intern, Jennie, who lived in places such as China, Ecuador and Singapore in the past year while studying at Berkeley.  You probably get how passionate we are.

You've often heard that its great when the founders are the end users of their product. Not only are we the end users, we are extreme, critical users who have personally faced the challenge of discovering and making decisions about travels with the plethora of data available. What incepted the idea?  I was planning a trip to India and Singapore and we wanted to take a side trip for a week. After weeks of hunting through two dozen sites and buying books, we were more confused than ever. Talking to a friend who travels like crazy made our decision certain, trusted and quick. Tiffany and Jimming have their own interesting or rather depressing stories of travel discovery and decision making. And once we started asking around we found that almost everyone makes their decision using their friend's advice!

We believe there is no better educational experience than delving into the history, culture, people and food of different places. And we want every single person to experience that! What does our "office" climate feel like - we probably spend a couple of hours everyday just talking about our different travel experiences and dreaming together. Join us on our journey at www.traverie.com!

Happy travels,
Gaurav

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