This entrepreneur has started a travel business that can help you quit your job
Editor’s note: After the publication of this article in September 2016, Trip4real was acquired by Airbnb. Since then, Trip4real has merged with Airbnb and no longer operates as a stand-alone entity. Read on to learn more about how the inspiring founder of Trip4real created a successful startup that helps other entrepreneurs leave their daily jobs to follow their passions. Inspired to quit your job and live somewhere affordable? Check out “Quit Your Job and Live Abroad in 2019: 10 Places So Cheap You May Not Need To Work.”
Imagine that you are in Barcelona, walking through the wide tree-lined streets and listening to a local explain the history and secrets of the Spanish city. You pass the Sagrada Familia Cathedral and spot an endless line of tourists waiting to get the same glimpse of famous architecture that all other visitors see.
Instead of joining the stationary line, you continue straight ahead and are taken to a private apartment to experience the modern architecture the city is known for – up close and personal. You connect with the Spanish family who live there and learn about their home, their life, their city. That evening, a local chef takes you to his favorite markets and helps you choose the best ingredients for the paella you cook together for dinner.
Sounds better than your typical vacation?
This is the idea behind Trip4real, a company that aims to connect locals and tourists and encourage micro-entrepreneurship. Founder and CEO Gloria Molins created the Barcelona-based startup after taking inspiration from her own travels and realizing that her favorite aspect is meeting real people. The 33-year-old entrepreneur – who lived in Sydney, Australia and worked for Google – quit her job to follow her passion. Its goal: to change the travel experience of others by putting holidaymakers in contact with the people who know a place best. Locals.
Others clearly see the benefit as well. World-renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adrià – the innovator behind the legendary El Bulli – was one of Trip4real’s first investors. When Molins approached him, he said: “Gloria, your idea allows the city to tell its micro-stories. I really like it.
And Airbnb recently bought the company for a figure between $ 5.6 million and $ 11.12 million, although Trip4real will continue to operate as a stand-alone company for the foreseeable future.
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Currently in more than 70 European cities, Trip4real offers a platform to hundreds of entrepreneurs in each destination, including Zenda, who will show you where the philosophers and composers used to meet in Rome, Paulette C., a photographer in Paris who will show you will take a walking tour in the footsteps of Amélie and Vanessa F., who will teach you how to cook authentic Greek cuisine.
Here, Molins shares his thoughts on what it’s like to start a business that disrupts the travel space and provides a platform to help other entrepreneurs who wish to follow their own passions.
Laura Begley Bloom: Why did you decide to create a business around travel between individuals?
Gloria Molins: I believe you only really know a place when you connect with someone local and traveling is about people, not just places. Going back to the origins of travel, it was about discovery, knowledge and personalized experience. Mass tourism favors superficial, impersonal, standard and low-quality tourism. Mass tourism trivializes experiences and encourages stereotypes. Paris is the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, Rome is the Colosseum. Everyone sees the same thing at the same time, explained by the same guide.
Begley Bloom: How do you find all the premises on your site? Where do they find you?
Molins: Many of them are new to our site and are very excited to list their offers. At Trip4real, we are entrepreneurs who build a business for micro-entrepreneurs. If you think about it, every one of the locals who lists an activity on our site and shares their passions, interests or hobbies is starting a small business. On top of that, we also do a lot of cool hunting to find the most amazing inhabitants of each city.
Begley Bloom: Do people make a lot of money doing this?
Molins: It depends on how much time they spend on it. We have people who quit their jobs to start making a living doing what they love and others who do it sporadically.
Begley Bloom: Have you been inspired by other companies?
Molins: Airbnb has been my inspiration since day one. I discovered it in 2010 and thought it was a great idea. So I thought to myself: if it can be done with accommodations, it would be amazing to do it with local experiences when you travel.
Begley Bloom: How does it feel to be part of Airbnb now?
Molins: We are delighted to join the Airbnb family. Airbnb and Trip4real share the vision of a different, local and authentic travel experience. We have an exciting future together.
Begley Bloom: Are you traveling yourself?
Molins: Yes, I have lived and traveled all five continents and took a year off to travel. I wish I could travel all my life. I love looking at a map and planning a next trip even though there is no specific date for it. Just so you can get a feel for it: I am now nine months pregnant and during my pregnancy I have been to nine different countries.
Begley Bloom: What are your tips for starting a business?
Molins: I recommend putting in a lot of passion, believing in your dream and having confidence that life will take you where you want. Above all, surround yourself with a great team. As Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Begley Bloom: Things will obviously change now that you are owned by Airbnb; did you find any drawbacks when you were in the boot space?
Molins: You don’t always have the amenities that the corporate world has. You have to work very hard and love uncertainty because you never know where the future will take you.
Begley Bloom: What about the money?
Molins: Being an entrepreneur doesn’t always make you rich in “money”. It’s more about doing what you love, being passionate and motivated on a daily basis. After a really good job in Sydney with a high salary, I had to invest all my savings to start Trip4real. I went back to my parents for a while and got no pay for the first year. After that I got a salary and increased a bit each year, but it was less than a third of what I earned as a professional before I became an entrepreneur.
Begley Bloom: Did you agree with that?
Molins: Money has never been my goal. I am committed to creating a new way of traveling and creating opportunities for people to make a real difference in their lives. This is my mission and my daily goal.
Begley Bloom: How does it feel to be a woman in the travel industry?
Molins: I think most industries still have more men than women, and travel is no exception. However, I have never had a problem being a woman – although we all know our reality is a little different and we have to work hard to help other women balance work and life.
Begley Bloom: Why did you decide to found the company in Barcelona?
Molins: Barcelona is my hometown and after seven years of studying and working abroad in countries like the Netherlands, Australia and the United States, I decided to return home to start my business. It made sense, as Barcelona has a lot of amazing travelers and locals to show them around.
Begley Bloom: Are you planning to expand?
Molins: Yes, we are expanding in Latin America and continuing to develop Trip4real to allow travelers from all over the world to experience cities in a whole new way.
09/17/16 Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the Airbnb purchase, which was announced after the post date.
Additional reporting by Hannah J. Freedman
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