Brittany Laughlin is 25 years old. She has been to all 7 continents, 36 countries, and she hops on a plane every two weeks.
Clearly, she’s obsessed with travelling. But until last year, she hadn’t found a way to turn that into a career.
The NYU graduate comes from an entrepreneurial family. Her mother started an interior design business, her sister launched a clothing line, and her father founded 12 companies.
After graduation, Laughlin landed a corporate job at American Express, and life was pretty good. She says she got raises, promotions and three weeks of vacation. Still, something was missing.
She knew she liked tech and travel, so she followed a bunch of people on Twitter, read tons of article, and wrote for Forbes. Brittney started examining what she was reading every day, met a lot of people, honed in on her passion.
One meeting with a Harvard graduate, Zack Smith, really stuck with her. The two fleshed out an idea for a travel startup, Gtrot. Laughlin stayed at her day job until the duo secured some money from a Harvard innovation competition and family/friends. This past January they raised an additional $1 million for their venture from Lightbank.
Gtrot is a group travel site that uses data from Facebook and Twitter to make planning trips easier. “Gtrot is travel connected: users can easily share travel advice, upcoming trips and see overlapping travel plans,” says Laughlin. It launched last year on four Ivy league campuses and wants to help students plan their winter/spring break trips.
In May, it came out of beta and launched Gtrot groups, which gives travellers discounts to the places they’re travelling to.
It took Laughlin a little bit of time to figure out her career path, but now she’s having a good go at a startup and doing what she loves. At an IdeaMensch conference, Laughlin imparted some wisdom on other people who want to leave the corporate world for a startup.
“It’s very much about saying, ‘This is what I want. I’m going to chase it as hard as possible because if I don’t do this, I’m going to keep having that sinking feeling of, ‘There’s something I should be working on and I’m not doing it yet,” says Laughlin.
“If you have that feeling, you owe it to yourself to explore it.” Plan ahead and start saving at your day job now, she says. “The second thing is to really get out there and to drink from the firehose. Get as much information as possible and start testing out [ your ideas]. You also can’t be embarrassed to be wrong.” Lastly, Laughlin tells all aspiring entrepreneurs to “just go after it, and don’t be afraid to fail.”