Brittany Laughlin – Co-Founder of gtrot

Brittany Laughlin is the co-founder of gtrot, a social travel company working to make travel planning easier. The company improves travel serach by connecting users with friends who have been to their destination. gtrot aims to the be the social platform between travel and social networks, providing the best experience before and during your trip. Prior to gtrot, Brittany worked at American Express, launching the Lowe’s Business Rewards Card and SimplyCash small business card products. During her time there she was twice awarded the OPEN Innovation Award and was nominated for the Chairman’s Award for Innovation. A fanatic traveler, Brittany has visited 35 countries across all 7 continents. She is an active participant in the Technology field and is a guest author on the subject at Forbes. Brittany graduated from NYU’s Stern School of Business with a B.S. in Marketing and International Business and a minor in Film and TV from Tisch School of the Arts.

3 trends that excite you?

Changes in the travel industry – The potential sale of ITA to Google, social buying and smart airline pricing are all part of a shake-up going on in the travel, especially aviation industry. The industry looks completely different then it did 10 years ago – I think it will better serve the customer in the next 5.

Machine learning– we’re living in a world where more data is being created than ever before and now there are so many opportunities to solve bigger problems and create better experiences by really intelligent algorithms that evolve over time. There are huge opportunities here to better customize travel planning.

Mobile in the developing world – Most third world nations will be able to leap frog expensive infrastructure by utilizing the power of mobile and social networks. There have been so many innovations with SMS that developing nations won’t have to wait to lay cable to get access to information.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s always important to me to get them on paper- to get the idea out of my head into something more concrete. From there, to tweak them, explain them out loud, break them, think realistically about how to build them, get feedback, revise and repeat the process. If I have an idea, I’m usually haunted by it until I at least give a fair chance to put it out in the world.

What inspires you?

Imagination. I love talking to, reading about and learning about people embarking on projects that never existed before. Whether it’s a business, an invention, art or just a new way of looking at the same problem – I admire stretching what’s possible.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

One big thing is that I didn’t ask for help earlier enough. Starting a business is usually done by one person but supported by a dozen more. My life got a lot easier when I started reaching out for help when I realized I needed it instead of putting off the problem.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d love to see someone build the “internet for old people” (non-digital natives). I see my Grandparents living in a more digital world – it would be helpful for them if text and buttons were bigger, UIs were more basic and they could quickly find what they need. There is a huge market of older Amercians that are tech-savvy enough that would benefit from easier web navigation.

What is one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

I just finished Atlas Shrugged– not a quick read but does a great job as putting the entrepreneur as the hero. Another favorite book is What is the What – it is a haunting account of life during the civil war in Sudan. I think it’s important to work really hard at what you’re good at but to keep an ear to what its like in other parts of the world.

What is one gadget or piece of software that helps you bring ideas to life?

I’m a huge fan of graphic paper moleskins – 90% of my ideas start there. I’m also a huge fan of Dropbox. It allows me easily to collaborate with team members and prevents the need to bring an external hard drive around with me.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

I’d love to see Blake Mycoskie from TOMs shoes interviewed. I think the one for one trend is great- it’s sustainable charity.

What’s your favorite trip you’ve taken?

Antarctica was incredible, when I went it felt like I was visiting the moon! In the United States, I fell in love with Jackson Hole, WY. I took a trip with my family this past winter and not only do they have some of the best slopes for snowboarding, we also took snowmobiles through Yellowstone National Park. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places.


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