Noken’s Travel App Makes Planning a Trip to Iceland A Breeze

Rough Draft Ventures is thrilled to back Noken, a HBS-born startup looking to reimagine organized travel for millennials.

Today, millennials travel about 4.2 times a year for leisure, and 1 out of every 3 trips is abroad. The international travel market, in fact, is estimated to be over $29 billion. Despite all this, the travel planning experience is painfully fragmented–modern travelers are forced to spend hours piecing together DIY booking tools to research, organize and plan their trips. Traditional tour operators and travel agents do not create the type of experience travelers want — exciting, authentic, flexible experiences — so travelers are forced to do all the work on their own.

Two HBS students, Marc Escapa and Emily Brockway, founded Noken to simplify the travel experience, with a service that crafts memorable trips for groups of friends to explore new countries, on their own time and at their own pace. Noken lets you do less planning and more exploring — think of it as your personalized, curated tour guide in your pocket. With destinations like Iceland, Colombia, Cuba, Myanmar, and Portugal (coming soon), every Noken powered trip strives to be the easiest way to travel. The trips are curated by experts, assisted with a digital guide and a 24/7 concierge and priced transparently, with no kickbacks. Travel plans adjust to your schedule and the dynamic itinerary means that you’ll always make the most of every moment abroad. So if you wake up late, or it starts to rain, or you want to skip a certain Noken destination, you can do so freely and easily through the app.

Noken arose out of Marc & Emily’s passion for simplified travel experiences. Before starting Noken, Marc worked at Turo, a P2P car rental company that raised Series B funding with 172 employees, where he found himself increasingly preoccupied and too busy to plan out trips and vacations, a task that he previously gravitated towards when he had more time.

“My friends and I once went to Iceland and didn’t plan at all because we were overwhelmed and it was a disaster. The best activities were already booked, we spent almost half the time at the Airbnb deciding what to do, and we even ended up in a tour bus on the first day because we didn’t know how we were supposed to see the sights,” Marc recounts. With Noken, they hope that an experience like that will never happen again.

Marc met Emily, who previously worked as a special assistant to Box CEO Aaron Levie, after pitching Noken at a pitch event hosted by the HBS New Venture Competition. Soon after, the two joined the Rock Accelerator program and participated in the Harvard Innovation Labs Venture Incubation Program. Emily and Marc also worked closely with professor Bob White, who teaches Entrepreneurial Finance, and Jeff Bussgang, who teaches Launching Tech Ventures. This past spring, Noken was awarded semi-finalist position in the New Venture Competition, and since then, the team has been working hard to provide the best simplified travel experiences possible.

We’re excited to welcome Noken to our portfolio and can’t wait as it helps travellers enjoy the journey and immerse themselves in their destinations.

Rough Draft Ventures

Covering all things student startup

Risham Dhillon

Written by

@Harvard CS ’18 | Venture Fellow @RoughDraftVC | Co-founder @Four94Team

Rough Draft Ventures

Covering all things student startup