How Trippy inspires 'travel karma' and maps out answers to personal travel questions

by Salwa Shameem
February 26, 2014


Originally launched at TechCrunch Disrupt by founder J.R. Johnson in September 2011, Trippy has evolved from a “friend-sourcing” travel site into a question and answer travel community. Funded early on with $1.75 million from Sequoia Capital, Trippy now aims to connect both budding and experienced travelers to the world at large - whether they are looking to travel off the beaten path somewhere in Europe, searching for the best pizzeria in Chicago or need some advice on planning a budget-backpacking trip. 

“As one of our core values, we often talk about the importance of experience over possessions," Jillian Geer, director of user growth, said. "We believe in having a passport full of stamps over a house full of stuff. Our community of travelers embodies this belief and it shows in each individual answer across the site."

As a part of Trippy’s mission and Johnson’s vision, encouraging travel is a way to engage in a cultural exchange that results in increased tolerance, empathy and understanding. Travelers understand the transformative power of sharing knowledge and Trippy seeks to facilitate that process.

But what exactly makes Trippy different from other travel sites that also provide travel-related recommendations? Trippy provides a user-friendly personal question-and-answer dialogue from authentic users who have traveled, lived or studied in the destination of interest. Because shuffling through reviews may not always speak to one’s preferences, it can be an exhausting quest to find simple, yet reliable recommendations on sight seeing, lodging, restaurants, etc. Trippy provides personal answers to customized questions posted on the website through direct notification. Currently, Trippy lives in the mobile web and desktop space.

“Quality of content is what sets us apart," Geer said. "We approve every single question and answer to make sure it meets our community standards. The knowledge our travelers share is not only meant to be functional but to inspire, too."

From a utility standpoint, the site allows each question and answer to be mapped, creating ease of reference and context: 

“Answers are more than just a wall of text. Trippy not only provides custom answers based on user interests, budget, length of trip, etc., but also utility with our mapping feature," Geer said.

Propelling user contribution is a culture of "travel karma" as Trippy calls it. Whether you’re a helper or an asker on the platform, the quality of content is rewarded with a ‘thumbs up’ from the community, bolstering your travel presence and inspiring others to make a mark of their own. This ‘helper-joy’ has allowed users to have memorable and influential experiences while travelling and leads to a pay-it-forward culture.

Trippy currently consists of 10 team members, all of whom are rooted in the belief that travel really does make the world better and can lead to life-changing moments. Their motto of "experience over possessions" drives their core values of authenticity, karma and paying it forward.

For Geer, Trippy is more than just a startup—it’s a way to use technology for good. “It is extremely rewarding to be a part of this platform, watching it grow, and hopefully leave a great impact on the world. For me, it’s all about influencing and helping this community thrive.”

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