Charly: How Frustration Led to a Breakthrough

Have you ever visited a new city with no idea what to do except for a generic “Top 10” list? Or what about ended up a trip feeling frustrated that you didn’t see anything except tourist traps.

That’s what happened to Charly while he was traveling the world. But instead of staying frustrated, it helped spark the idea for his project — TripUniq, a website that connects travelers with local experts who personalize trips starting from €5.

Here’s how he pulled it off!

Can you give us the short story behind your project?

I’m an industrial engineer. After four years of that, I got really depressed. I got rid of everything — my partner, my flat, everything — and went to travel the world.

When I got back, I had three ideas clear.

One, is that I’d never work as an engineer again.

Two, I wanted to work in something to do with travel.

Three, one of the coolest feelings from my trip was that I was in charge of my life.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that launching my own project was the only way to have control of my life.

How did you come up with the idea for TripUniq?

The thing that triggered it was my trip to Prague.

I didn’t have time to plan my trip, and I found myself there with a place to sleep and a few ideas for what to do, but nothing deep. I wasted a lot of time trying to find something that was a bit different.

I came back mad at myself for not having prepared more.

But I also thought that most people don’t take as much time as I do to prepare their trips, because I’m a nerd. But for people who aren’t as nerdy, maybe they want to have a better trip without having to spend so much time planning it.

When you go traveling, your need is to make the best use of your time and have the best time possible. Right now, all the solutions for that are sources of information. But the jump from that information to planning those incredible three days is huge.

There are lots of problems, they’re difficult decisions, and you don’t want to be left with FOMO afterwards, when you’re afraid you’re missing out. On top of that, in general you end up wasting time at your destination re-doing or doing the research because you didn’t have time earlier.

I said “Damn, this is not the optimal solution”, in my engineering brain.

I thought that somebody from that place would be able to do it much quicker and better than I could. And I’d also talked to people who’d said “I only travel to places I have friends.”

And in the end, that’s what it is — it’s like having a friend at your destination. Even though your friend can’t take you around the city, they grab a map and in five minutes show you a few things and create a great day out for you.

We’re creating a win-win for the local expert — we call them Local Heroes — and the traveler. We don’t just connect the traveler and the local. We make it easy for the local to re-use all the work they do for one visitor for more people.

And how’s TripUniq going?

In November we went to the Smart City Expo and won the prize for the best tourism app. That was brilliant!

It was also amazing when Expedia said that the future of travel was basically offering personalized trips for the new traveler while covering their mobile needs and having authentic experiences.

I’m right over here!

You’re a lifelong Barcelona resident. Do you still like to visit the city as if it were new?

Yeah, because until you get to a certain age you’re not curious, you always hang out in the same groups. That curiosity is something that’s just started happening to me. It was really when I got back from my trip that it started.

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-The Physem Team