Entrepreneur in the Making

April 24th, 2013 Posted in Alumni Profiles

by Patty Gelb

genevieve_travelblenderGenevieve Catalano has been a very busy young lady since graduating Summa Cum Laude with her BA (’02) in Communications with a concentration in Digital Imaging.  She always knew she wanted to be in web design and her first job out of school was working for Butler Technical College, Ohio’s largest career-technical school, as their Creative Services Designer.

While Genevieve liked her position and everything that she was learning in marketing, team-work and design, she always knew that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. In 2010 she finally said to herself, “quit thinking so much or you will get analysis paralysis.” At that point in her life she rented out her house and took off for Chicago to figure out “what do I want to make out of my life.”

She arrived in Chicago with a notebook full of ideas and a lot of moxie.  Ironically one of her ideas from her time at The University of Toledo showed up as a real need while living in Chicago. When she was graduating from UT she decided to take a vacation and looked for a group of like-minded individuals to travel with. After searching, she couldn’t find a travel source putting together trips where someone traveling alone could sign up with a group of likeminded individuals of her age range. She gave up on the idea and made a note in her notebook that someone needs to develop a company catering to this service.

It came to the forefront again while living in Chicago. Genevieve said “it was a lot easier meeting people while you are still in college. There are activities, events, classes but not so in the big city. There were opportunities but all of them seemed awkward – such as going to dinners or meet-ups with people you’ve never met – and unlikely to lead to a sustained friendship. It wasn’t as easy as I would’ve thought for an urban area.” So what does a woman like Genevieve do when she sees a need that is going unfulfilled? She goes and creates a business!

request_imgGenevieve researched, developed and at the beginning of 2013 launched her own web business called Travelblender.com. TravelBlender.com started as an idea to allow people to choose the type of group they travel with, making it easier for people to share experiences with others close to their age in a setting that’s easier to bond through – the new experience of travel. It developed into a much bigger idea to modernize group travel through crowdsourcing. Users can request where they want to go and when, what kind of trip they want to take, and who they want to go with (based on age, gender, etc.). TravelBlender creates the group and offers them an itinerary that meets their requests. The idea came from her feeling that it was tough to meet people for friendship after natural bonding experiences like school had ended. It was also a great alternative to traveling solo on exciting trips that the traveler really wants to do with people who want to do the same types of things.

And things are flying high for Genevieve and Travelblender.com. Although the website is still in beta form and just recently launched, it is entered into The University of Dayton (UD) Business Plan Competition. There are three stages to the competition: 1) Elevator Pitch 2) Cameo Round and 3) Finalist Round. In late 2011 Genevieve came in first place in the first round and was the alternate for the final round last year. This year she and Travelblender.com have made it all the way to the Top Five Finalist round. The top prize from this round is $25,000, plus free legal advice and support from the UD Law School. The five finalists compete in March by giving a 20 minute presentation of their business plan to a panel of judges. Following the presentation the judges may ask questions regarding the presentation.

how-to

Genevieve shared, “When I was at UT, I was always the kid who asked the most questions. I don’t know if that was annoying or refreshing for my teachers, but I think it’s one of the biggest parts of my personality that makes me an entrepreneur. I just never stop asking questions. ‘Why are we doing it this way? And how could it be better?'”

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

Comments are closed.