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Company name: Triploma
Founded: March 2016
Founder: Matt Daddario
Description: Company operates weekend trips for groups of college-age travelers. Triploma arranges bus transportation and lodging in hostels and handles all of the logistics of scheduling activities, figuring out where to eat and how to get around in the city during the trip.
Number of employees: One
Financing raised to date: Daddario personally invested $10,000 but he hasn’t started fundraising yet
Lowdown: When Matt Daddario studied abroad in Rome for the spring semester last year, he used tour companies that served young people to arrange quick weekend trips to other parts of Italy and Europe.
He went to Switzerland to ski, to Naples, to Morocco – “places I never would have gone if not for going through a tour operator,” said Daddario, an accounting major at Daemen College.
Daddario was struck by how easy and affordable it was to travel using the companies, and how much he enjoyed traveling as part of a group, staying in youth hostels and riding public transportation. And he remembered wishing more people could have a similar experience in this country.
“There’s really nothing for college students, in terms of package travel,” Daddario said.
So a year later, when he was back at Daemen and he needed to come up with an idea for a company for an entrepreneurship class, he thought of a tour operator that would plan trips for groups of young people, where the company takes care of all of the arrangements – transportation, lodging, dining and activities.
Daddario launched the company and its website in the spring, won a handful of small pitch competitions and earned a spot this summer in the Buffalo Student Sandbox business development program.
He took his first trip over Easter to New York City, with two students, and a second trip is planned for this weekend, to Toronto, with 16 students.
It’s a whirlwind start in business for someone who is still taking summer classes to finish up his master’s degree.
Daddario started out as a business major, on a soccer scholarship, at Daemen. He said he switched to accounting as an undergraduate because he figured it offered practical skills he could put to use.
“I’m doing my own bookkeeping,” Daddario said.
The 22-year-old still lives with his parents and runs the company from home, although the eight-week Sandbox program offers use of incubator space when he wants it.
Daddario compared the detailed work that he does in advance of a trip to that of a coach plotting out strategy for a coming game.
He coordinates transportation by bus to and from the city, either buying tickets on a bus or renting a charter; he books beds in a hostel; he figures out what attractions and venues they have time to see, what the student travelers will want to see, and what order to see them in; he has to plan how to get around the city; and he has to decide where they’re going to eat.
“We’re really about maximizing your time,” he said.
Daddario said he tries to give Triploma’s customers the best possible experience at the lowest price, since most of them are students on a budget. That’s why, for example, they stay at hostels, which don’t allow the travelers to have their own rooms, as you would in a hotel. But he said it allows them to stay in the heart of the city instead of having to stay at a budget hotel on the outskirts of the city for the same price.
It’s also better than Airbnb, Daddario said, because you can’t use the home- and apartment-renting service to travel with 10 of your friends.
The Triploma travelers can choose to stay with their guided tour for the entire trip or they can branch off on their own at any time.
Users of the service are paying for Daddario’s expertise and organizational skills, for the chance to travel in a group with the guidance of someone who knows the city, he said.
The first trip was just a trial run. For a special price of $295, students got round-trip transportation, two nights at a hostel and admission to the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. They also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square and the High Line linear park and walked the Brooklyn Bridge.
This weekend, in Toronto, they’ll visit a brewery, take in a music festival, take a walking tour of old Toronto and experience the night life. The cost is $120.
The company’s target audience is international students who are new to this country and who want to take a break from studying by traveling on the weekend, as he did in Europe.
Future trips will continue to be within driving distance of Buffalo, along the East Coast. He plans to work through offices at colleges and universities in the region that serve international students or that plan student activities, and he said he’ll spend the next school year building relationships with them.
“We really think the best way we can do this is by working with colleges,” Daddario said.
He said he plans to have the schedule of fall semester trips set by next month.
Daddario said he will bring his sister, Jill, into the company when she comes back from Europe, where she is working for a tour company.
He said he will slowly hire more employees, figuring that he needs to bring along one tour guide for every 15 travelers on a trip.
Triploma sets out its expectations for the trip in a set of terms and conditions for users. Daddario said he wants travelers to be safe but to have a good time and to feel comfortable knowing it’s a peer leading the trip, and not one of their professors or a college staffer.
“It’s like you have friends going with you who are being paid to make sure your experience is great in all aspects,” he said.