Every year, BusinessBecause sets out to uncover the most promising startups emerging from MBA programs around the world. From this selection, we choose our favorite, and this year, Amanda Joseph's Trulli has taken the prize.
Here's everything you need to know about our 2020 MBA startup of the year!
Even for the seasoned traveller, planning a trip can be complicated. With the sheer amount of information at our fingertips, working out where to stay and what to do is dizzying.
That’s what Amanda Joseph discovered when she planned a round-the-world trip back in 2016.
As Amanda experienced this struggle, she had an epiphany: the best travel advice always came from her friends—people she knew and trusted.
The problem was, there was nowhere for groups of friends to share this guidance and plan trips together.
Hoping to help explorers like herself, Amanda used this insight to develop a travel platform of her own, Trulli, while studying for an MBA at the Darden School of Business.
Trulli is designed to compile personal recommendations from a network of MBAs together in one place, allowing users to log their favorite spots as they travel, share them with the network, and create itineraries.
BusinessBecause MBA Startup of 2020
Trulli was also chosen as the BusinessBecause MBA Startup of 2020.
Every year, we profile the most exciting startups to come out of the world’s top MBA programs, and choose our favorites.
We caught up with Amanda to find out more about her experience founding Trulli, and how the MBA helped.
Q: What is your business and what does it do?
A: Trulli is the platform for travelers to plan trips based on recommendations from the people they trust most: their friends. Users can search a destination to see all their friends who have been and what they loved doing there. That means Instagram-style inspiration meets TripAdvisor-level logistics.
Q: How did the idea come about?
A: The idea for Trulli arose from planning a four-month trip around the world before starting my MBA.
I was thrilled at the opportunity to travel, but overwhelmed by the amount of information available and unsure of who to trust or how to account for differences in taste. I found myself faced with the analysis paralysis that comes with thirty open browser tabs.
On my trip, I realized my favorite moments frequently came from friends’ recommendations, but I struggled to know who to ask (‘Did I see an Instagram last year of you in Japan?’). I arrived at Darden with the goal to simplify travel planning through the lens of personal recommendations.
Q: How has your MBA helped you develop your business?
A: Darden has been foundational in building Trulli. I refined my idea through boundary-pushing classes like Design Thinking and Effectuation, met inspiring mentors, and won grants through the iLab Incubator and Entrepreneurship Cup.
Darden also introduced me to Trulli’s ideal users: MBAs. Surrounded by target users, I conducted interviews, tested product, quickly iterated, and was inspired to initially launch exclusively at business schools. As any MBA knows, we travel a lot ($21k avg. social travel spend/two years!)1 and are part of a diverse community with extensive travel experience. Trulli allows students to foster connections and benefit from their network’s knowledge.
Q: Where are you at right now? What are your plans for the future?
A: Trulli is live (TrulliTravel.com) and features hundreds of inspiring travelers and itineraries from MBAs (& alums) from Darden, Columbia, and Fuqua.
This fall, Trulli will launch at 10 additional business schools and introduce its mobile app. By mid-2020, I plan to expand to undergrad campuses with a focus on study abroad.
Ultimately, I intend to incorporate booking functionality and build out an influencer marketplace to make Trulli the all-in-one solution for a new generation looking for personalized, trustworthy travel guidance. LinkedIn provides access to friends’ professional information, Instagram to their day-to-day lives; Trulli will provide that access for travel.