Well Traveled uses natural language processing to go beyond click streams to provide a more authentic approach to travel.
Name: Well Traveled
Location: New York City
Product / Service Offering: Machine learning to understand audience insights for travel brands and content producers
Founder Interviewed: Samantha Ruiz
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
Ultimately, we aim to inspire more people to travel and create meaningful, personal experiences. My background is in digital marketing. I loved the fact that I could use data to back creative strategies. After a while, I discovered the smoke and mirrors that plagued the industry.
After traveling the world, I decided that this was something that needed to change and that I could change it. Since then, my team and I have been driven to make travel smarter and motivated by the idea that we are going to inspire more travel overall.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
The idea for Well Traveled originated while I was traveling. While I had recognized the façade before leaving, the realization that I could be the one to make a difference really hit me while I was in Bali. I was at a coding camp, surrounded by other people who were forging their own paths. It was so inspiring to see these strangers chasing their dreams. A few months after getting back to the United States, we officially launched Well Traveled.
Are You Prepared for the Entrepreneurial Journey?
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
The biggest challenge that travel executives face is understanding their customers. Well Traveled created a technology that can understand every step of the travel path to purchase and understand intent and decision drivers in real time. We want to enable brands to make travel more personal, from marketing, to booking, to product. Data-driven personalization will be the game changer for the travel industry.
Key to Startup Success: Customer Discovery
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Well Traveled uses natural language processing to go beyond click streams. Essentially, we determine to where you want to book a trip and why before you even get on Expedia. Competitors are still using click streams to figure this out. As a result, they do not know what you are going to do until after you have done it.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Starting a business is really hard, but starting a business as a woman is even harder. You are constantly surrounded by people who immediately doubt you and your abilities. Your friends do not get what you are doing. You receive comments that are not intended to be rude, but really are. It can be really difficult, and lonely too. The best way to overcome these challenges is to keep pushing forward, prove people wrong, and inspire other women to do the same.
5 Steps from Concept to Startup
What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
There are quite a few really great groups I have found in New York that have been a great resource for me. Being in the travel space, Voyager is an amazing community that I really enjoy being involved. There is also an event, Founders Friday, that I love attending every Friday morning. They have both introduced me to great people that have been so valuable in starting Well Traveled.
Accelerators Focusing on Women-led Startups
What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Everything! We like to joke that every day is your first day when you are starting a business. For the most part, you can Google your way through, or ask questions and get answers. The hardest questions are opinion questions. You will get a hundred answers from a hundred people. In those instances, you really have to rely on your gut to make decisions.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Is it wrong to say everything? Every day has new challenges! It is never boring!
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Be authentic. When I first started, I was struggling to keep up this shield of perfectionism. It was exhausting. Eventually, I realized that I did not have time to make everyone happy or pretend to be anything I was not. Authenticity is the best tip I have received.
Are you familiar with other Women-led startups? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!