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Julie Tucker
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Wanderfly: How coworking helped the travel industry

Coworking has helped to shape the travel industry, thanks to the launch of Wanderfly, the web platform for sharing personalised travel recommendations.

The company was launched in coworking space in New York and attracted a massive £1 million in funding within its first two years.

The startup ranks as one of the biggest success stories born in coworking space in the travel industry after it was sold to TripAdvisor for an undisclosed amount just three years after its launch. Today, Wanderfly is still going strong and is known as the best place to share and discover personalised travel recommendations.

Its premise is simple: everyone is different and people travel all over the world in many ways, according to their own personal preferences. This means we can all benefit from a host of different recommendations, made by people with personal experience.

Wanderfly’s aim is to make travel planning simpler, more personal, inspiring and fun by using this human element. Travellers recommend their favourite spots, get advice from other travellers they trust and find perfect places and experiences.

When was Wanderfly founded?
Wanderfly was co-founded by entrepreneur Evan Schneyer in the coworking space, Projective Space, in New York in August 2009. On his LinkedIn profile, Schneyer describes himself as a “builder” of companies. He has started three companies and has guided numerous new products from the initial idea to the market.

Coworking was a major factor in his success. The interesting thing about Wanderfly is that Schneyer knew from the start he was keen to launch the company in a coworking space. He says he loves every phase of the creative process of founding and growing a new company. He has built, led and coached teams from the ground level up and enjoys team development and organisation as much as product development.

He describes himself as having a “deep appreciation and passion for quality”. In his LinkedIn profile, he is quoted as saying, “I believe that ideas are cheap and execution is everything.”

In an interview describing the idea behind Wanderfly, Schneyer said, “The idea was very simple – there should be a site that gives you ideas for where to go, based on what you like and how much you have to spend. That’s it!”

He said although the idea was simple and “fairly obvious”, the technology to implement it was complex, as was the business plan to get it off the ground. The answer as to why such an obvious website didn’t already exist was the degree of difficulty in setting it up.

What is Wanderfly’s success story?
Like with every other challenge, Schneyer approached the launch of Wanderfly with a deep conviction that he would find the way forward. As CEO of his new company, he felt coworking space gave it the best chance of success. He wished to make sure the team stayed motivated and highly stimulated and felt the best way to achieve this was to take advantage of the buzz of a coworking environment.

The team at Wanderfly was working alongside creative, high-performing coworkers. This presented collaboration and networking opportunities from the outset, turning Wanderfly into a prime example of how startups can benefit from coworking environments.

The ground-breaking travel discovery website was soon gathering industry accolades, including a Webby Award nomination – the leading international awards honouring excellence on the internet. Wanderfly also made Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies awards and Time Inc’s Top 10 Startups.

Schneyer led Wanderfly’s financing, mergers and acquisitions processes, raising three rounds of early-stage capital to the tune of $1 million by 2011. Ultimately, he negotiated a successful exit, while managing more than a dozen private investors, an external board of directors and two venture capital firms, when TripAdvisor bought Wanderfly in October 2012.

Schneyer remained as the director of product management with TripAdvisor until May 2013. He incorporated and integrated various aspects of Wanderfly’s technology and approach to make TripAdvisor’s content more personalised and accessible for users.

While Wanderfly remains a highly successful company under the TripAdvisor umbrella, today, Schneyer is co-founder and CEO of Outlaw, a company in Brooklyn, New York. He describes it as an “end-to-end contract platform that reinvents the entire process.”

 

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