Get a Friend and Travel Buddy for Life with this University of Toledo Startup
With school wrapping up and the long-awaited summer vacation finally here, students across the globe are packing and getting ready to travel to the destinations they've been daydreaming about during their lectures.
Solo traveling can be great, but if you end up getting lonely in the middle of your travels, it's not easy to find a travel buddy at a moment's notice.
Not only that, but solo traveling can be expensive if the costs aren't being split with another person.
That's why Akib Amin from the University of Toledo started GAFFL.
GAFFL, or Get a Friend for Life, was started to help travelers find travel buddies, share costs, and ultimately, share experiences.
GAFFL works in four easy steps:
1: Travelers search and select a travel destination.
2: Based on the destination, users can find other travelers that will be in the same destination at the same time.
3: Travelers then choose which other travelers they want to connect with.
4: Finally, after the group has been established, travelers can plan trips using GAFFL's group chat and the rest is history!
GAFFL doesn't charge anything to open an account, start or browse trips, add trips to a wishlist, or invite users to join trips.
However, through a simple "pay-as-you-go" model, users can join and create unlimited trips for only $6.99 for 30 days. There are also value packages for those traveling for longer durations which cost $20 for six months and $30 for one year. No contracts, no hassle.
When it comes to safety, Akib says that it is their topmost priority at GAFFL. Through a multi-step verification process, which includes phone verification, social account verification and ID verification, users get a green badge beside their name which confirms their identity.
How was it Started?
While being unable to afford to travel as much as he wanted to in college, Akib started GAFFL with his childhood friends after his post-graduation trip around the US where he found that solo traveling was expensive and got lost while hiking alone in the mountains of Colorado.
In the beginning, GAFFL grew purely through word of mouth. Through really listening to their customers, they iterated GAFFL based on customer feedback and continued to improve and grow organically as GAFFL was turning into something travelers really needed.
Now, with registered users from 156 countries, GAFFL is continuing to grow and help travelers save money and meet lifelong friends.
We had a few things we were curious about when it came to Akib's entrepreneurial side so we connected with Akib so he could share with us his experience with GAFFL so far.
What do you love most about starting your own venture?
Akib: Being able to make an impact in the world.
How has LaunchPad Incubation at UToledo helped you?
Akib: We won the launchpad competition last year and then got additional funding from the launchpad too which really helped with iterating and improving the product to make it the best it can be for our users.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own venture?
Akib: Build fast. Listen to your customers and iterate fast. Care about your customers.
Ask yourself, would you pay to use the product you just built? If yes, great! If no, you are not on the right track.
What was your entrepreneurial journey like? Is this your first startup?
Akib: 99% of the journey has been rough. As first time entrepreneurs, every step we took was a new step, something we have not experienced before. We survived and GAFFL is growing stronger every day. So, we really enjoyed the 1% of it as well which makes it all worth it.
GAFFL is among the many startups that the University of Toledo's Launchpad Incubation has helped and its impressive growth and strong value proposition make it a promising startup to keep an eye on.
So, if you're planning any trips any time soon, try out GAFFL; you could end up with a friend for life!