The final round of the Discovery stage of the University of Virginia Entrepreneurship Cup takes place this week (21 February at 4:30 pm)! The top five teams will win $5,000, and three of the 11 finalists are from Darden:
- Single Baked Sweets – Melissa Stefaniak, EMBA Darden Class of 2019
- Slay – Jade Palomino and Kelly Bonilla, Darden Class of 2020
- Trulli – Amanda Joseph and Pat Adams, Darden Class of 2019
What is Trulli?
Trulli is a platform for travelers to search, share and build travel itineraries based on recommendations from the people they trust the most: their friends. Think: I’m going to Thailand, I’ll search Trulli and see which friends have been and what they loved doing there. We drown out the noise of anonymous reviews to give travelers relevant, unique recommendations that go beyond top-10 lists. We are now live at www.trullitravel.com and invite you to join Trulli to wander the world with a little help from your friends!
How did you come up with the idea?
Travel planning is hard. That was a lesson I learned when I had the opportunity to travel around the world for several months pre-Darden. I spent so much time researching my trips—feeling overwhelmed with all the Google, TripAdvisor, and Instagram results—but while traveling, I discovered that my favorite moments came from friends’ recommendations. Out of this experience, I was inspired to partner with my classmate, Pat Adams, and founded Trulli—named for incredible hobbit-like white huts in an Italian village I only found through a friend’s suggestion.
Why did you decide to enter the E-Cup?
We entered E-Cup to refine our pitch, receive feedback from expert judges and have the opportunity to win funding that would support our 2/18 launch and enable us to incorporate post-launch feedback into the website. The Discovery Stage was especially relevant to us, as it is based on effectuation principles. With Darden Professor and Author of Effectuation: Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise, Saras Sarasvathy, as an advisor, we have employed effectuation principles throughout our founding and look forward to the opportunity to showcase all that we have learned and applied to our venture.
How has Darden helped you develop/refine your business idea?
Darden has been a key part of the Trulli journey. In First Year Section, I met my co-founder, Pat Adams, who was an experienced marketer for major brands like Angie’s List and Hershey’s. Since then, we have had the mentorship of entrepreneurship faculty, the opportunity to propel our venture forward in classes like IDEA and Venture Velocity and the incredible support of our classmates. From our MBA experience, we also decided to initially launch Trulli exclusively at business schools. We realized MBAs are our ideal Trulli travelers as they travel constantly—both for vacation and for school—and highly value their diverse networks.