Lauren A. Koenig is the CEO and founder of TWIP – or Travel with Interesting People – and one of the emerging female stars of the travel-technology industry.
Like many of us, Lauren has a hunger for discovery that she satiates with travel – and like many of us, she was once scared to travel by herself. She saw a gap in the market, and she set out to fill it by helping people connect with other like-minded folks and experiences that they’ll love doing together.
The Origins of TWIP
TWIP was born because of a box of cereal.
Lauren spent many Summer vacations at her family’s log cottage in Ontario, Canada, where everything has to be written in both English and French.
Every morning, she sit there eating her Shreddies, and she’d stare at the back of the cereal box. She’d flip the box back and forth, from the English side to the French side, trying to match the words, but it didn't make sense. She kept asking her mom to help and, eventually, her mom was done; she said, “I don't know. I don't speak French. If you want to learn how to read the back of your cereal boxes, you need to go learn French.”
She started taking French classes and fell in love with it. By the time she got to college, she just had to go to France... but none of her friends wanted to join her. So she found the French Club – a group of like-minded people – who convinced her to not just go visit, but go live in France. So, after graduation, she began her career at the Ministry of Education in France.
“And that is kind of how I got into the world of travel. I went to school to be a journalist... But where I am in my career ,when it comes to real people and understanding them and different cultures, is truly because I was so frustrated that I didn't understand something, and I did whatever it took.”
That isn’t to say she wasn’t afraid; she was deathly afraid of travelling alone to another country. And while she was there, Lauren wondered: How many would-be travelers don’t take the plunge, simply for fear of traveling alone?
She soon found out the answer: Thirty-five million people, in America alone.
Lauren had hit on a key gap in travel-tech, one that could be filled by social connection and a customized user experience. The problem, she knew, is that people are different away from home. This little-understood fact makes it difficult for travelers to find the right companions and for providers to identify their client base – and that’s the secret sauce of TWIP.Through scientific assessment of a person’s Travanality®, or travel identity, Lauren could match travelers to travelers, and travelers to experiences, stimulating demand while delivering original content and customized adventures.
The Netflix of Travel
Spotify can tell me what music to watch. Netflix can tell me what shows to watch. But when it comes to travel, what is there? That’s the space that Lauren and TWIP are trying to fill.
And like Spotify or Netflix, doing that comes back to data – as well as people, of course.
Through scientific assessment of a person’s Travanality®, or travel identity, Lauren can match travelers to travelers, and travelers to experiences, stimulating demand while delivering original content and customized adventures.
If, after listening to this episode, you feel inspired by Lauren and want to start your own travel adventure – and how can you not? – you can discover your Travanality and get started at http://www.twip.co.