Hera Hub: Hello and welcome to Success Secrets of Enterprising Women sponsored by Hera Hub. My name is Felena Hanson and I’m really looking forward to today’s interview with Anjali Cameron. She is the founder of Triplark and this is a new website that really values proposition at saving traveler’s time and energy by showcasing the best ways to spend time in a destination by a very unique, organized travel plans written by real world travelers. So it’s really a distinction between going to Travelocity or sites like that where you’re reading reviews on a particular restaurant or hotel. This is really, almost like the full itinerary that’s planned out for you and you’ve got options and different types of itineraries based on your lifestyle – if you’re active or into a certain type of art, music, that type of thing – when you travel.
Anjali holds her MBA from Berkeley and previously worked in Consumer Marketing for Yahoo! And you can follow her online on Twitter at @triplark and also her website, if you want to go there directly and check it out is again, triplark.com. Welcome to the show today, Anjali.
Anjali: Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Hera Hub: Of course. So I want to dive in here and learn about you, I want to hear your stories. So take us back and tell us about your career path and how you came to launch Triplark.
Anjali: I had gotten the travel bug in college. I lived in the Bay area growing up and wanted to go. I was an only child so I wanted to go far, far away for college so I went to Brown in Providence. There I started to get involved with their entrepreneurship program, where I wrote a business plan and it was there that I really started to see the idea.
Hera Hub: So tell us how did you go about the actual launch of the business? Kind of talk us through that a little bit.
Anjali: The first thing I did is I thought, "Okay, you have this idea but people think you’re crazy." You know, other people might disagree with this overall concept of travel plans and so on. And I did a ton of research on the competitive space, looking at all the different offerings that were out there and then I actually, you know, built out an Excel sheet, a mock-up of what I wanted the site to look like. I put down on paper my value proposition, my point of differentiation, really sort of pieced it out. And then I sent it out to about… I would say 10 or 12 friends, peers from different stages of life whose opinion I really respect. And I said, "Hey, think about this critically from a business perspective. What do you think?" I got their feedback and I also got feedback from local people that I’ve never met before. Because of course, your friends might all tell you it’s great even though they don’t think it is. And so I interviewed some local writers that write for the Examiner, interviewed various friends of friends to really get objective perspectives and all points were leading towards, "Yeah, this is at least something that’s worth testing." It’s something that people would want to take a second look at.
So I sourced. I started looking around for someone to help me build the site and found Greenberg Media. They’re a small boutique development agency here in San Diego. They mainly specialize in building non-profit websites but given my budget, they were perfect.
Hera Hub: What are some of the things that you’ve been really learning from a business perspective?
Anjali: Oh gosh, there’s lots of things I’ve been learning. I mean, I think from the standpoint of the website itself, I think that you know, I usually thought that you put in all these facts, you build the site and then it’ll sort of operate. You know, it’ll be working in a certain set of… in a certain status quo. But the truth is with websites, especially usually when you’re on a tight budget, there’s all kinds of contraints. So I think one of the things that I’ve been learning is when to say, "This is good nough for now." It’s good enough, it has the concept. I don’t love the design. I don’t love the placement of that logo but in the grand scheme of life, what’s more important is to get it in front of people and start getting their feedback. And I think that was hard to do and probably one of the things that slowed me down last year in terms of getting the website ready for… to a place where I thought it was ready for public consumption. I think it’s important to remember that it’s good to get things out there and test them and that’s definitely something I’ve been learning.
Hera Hub: What is maybe one thing that you really feel like you’ve learned in the last year Anjali, that like, "Gosh, I wish I would have known that before I launched." I’m sure it’s a long one but what’s your favorite?
Anjali: What I’ve been struggling with is while I took this really bootstrap approach and I went straight to freelancers and I jumped feet forward and I said, "I have a good concept. I validated it and I’m going to go for it." In looking back, what I wish someone had told me is "Hey, before you jump in, I know you feel like you’ve taken months thinking about this but take another month and look at all the available options that are out there for putting a business to life."
Hera Hub: Such a good point. I love that. And along those lines Anjali, what would you say you then, have been some of the secrets to your success? Before you answer, I want to note something that I’ve noticed about you and a lot of the successful entrepreneurs that I see through here at Hera Hub and something I don’t possess is you seem so organized to me. I mean, what spurred this thought is you know, the notebook concept that you said. The fact that you know which notebook you wrote it in and that you note that, I’m on the opposite side of that spectrum. I’m like the mad scientist and I’ve got like 8 million Post-It notes everywhere because no electronic solution has quite been able to show me. So I have like scratch paper everywhere. It drives me crazy. I haven’t figured it out like you and maybe that’s not your secret to success but it’s just something I’ve noticed about you that I really admire.
Anjali: Well, thank you for that, Felena. You know, it’s funny. I haven’t thought about that but I do think I’ve tried to be… or something that I actually wasn’t in my professional career which is a very detail-oriented and organized in that sense. I’ve tried to be with this business in part because I've found that there’s so much information coming my way that to feel grounded and centered, I’ve relied on my notebook and my Excel spreadsheets and things like that to stay organized. So I think that’s definitely a helpful quality.
And I’ve learned to just let go and just dive in and I think that’s something that can be applied to networking, leading people. You’re never going to be rewarded if you don’t ask for things and put yourself out there. And so I think I can always be better at that but I certainly have done my best to push myself out the door for networking events, etc. I guess it’s somewhat trite but it’s definitely one I try to live by.
Hera Hub: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs that are maybe at that stage in their business?
Anjali: Yeah, I say just go for it. Shout it from the rooftop! If someone is going to go so far as to steal your idea, you should be thrilled because most people’s response is sort of like, "Oh, it’s nice." And you know, they smile. Or maybe they’ll put you in the direction of when they’re planning what they’re selling but I think that you’re never… you’re really just aren’t going to get anywhere from never sharing your idea and the feedback that you get, especially in the early stages, that helps you find those special gems like accelerator programs or people you should contact.
Hera Hub: So really, really good advice. Well, tell us what’s on your horizon for Triplark?
Anjali: Yeah well, I am sort of focusing my efforts in 2 areas. One is to keep getting the word out there, spreading the message and making the site a better product and customer fit. The second piece is to help me in that journey. I'm looking for a technical expert. So ideally, a co-founder who wants to get their hands dirty and work on the vision and the strategies and also do some serious coding. And then hopefully, partner with me so that we can raise some funds and take the site to the next level. So if anybody knows of anyone, please let me know. My contact information is on Triplark and I really am just looking for a great partner in crime that has the technical expertise to counter my more marketing and business skills.
Hera Hub: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time, Anjali. It’s been really fun.
Anjali: Thanks so much Felena.