Give us a brief recap of your entrepreneurial career during your time at Owen:
I arrived at Owen full of aspirations, but wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do. I had helped grow a sightseeing tour company in Seattle from 20 to more than 120 employees, but – like many MBAs – I had my eye on Corporate America. I was recruiting for investment banking and marketing roles and four months after arriving at Owen, I took an internship with Wells Fargo Securities. Over the rest of my first year, with the help of Germain Boer, the Firestarter sessions and the Launching the Venture course, I continued to explore an idea I’d had five years ago that would help my colleagues in the tours and activities industry.
How did you have the idea for Multriply and what does the company do?
In my previous career, I managed our ticketing technology – handling all our industry partnerships and working closely with our customer service and operations team to better the guest experience. The whole thing was frustrating because the large majority of it is run via paper vouchers. At the end of each month, I would have to match vouchers, copy and mail them to our industry partner for reconciliation and then, two months later, we would receive a check for a fraction of the ticket price. Every time I did it, I thought: this is silly.
Multriply is a GDS. What Oracle does for business, Sabre and Amadeus do for hotels and airlines. Multriply will be the Sabre for tours and activities. We’re providing a ticketing platform for tours and activities to manage their inventory and through this platform, industry partners will be able to pull real-time inventory to sell to tourists. Travelers visit an average of 38 website prior to booking. We want them to be able to buy attraction tickets on all of them – without the administrative cost to the operator.
Since you have been running Multriply what were the challenges and what were the big wins?
The big win was the Sohr Grant last fall. It’s a program through which alum Jim Sohr supports students like me to be able to start companies with $25,000 of capital. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do a lot of the basic things that I need to get started without the panic of student loan overhang and practically no income.
Because everything is so ambitious, I try to find something each week that feels like a “win.” Last month, my classmates helped me with a massive project to find the market share of my competitors. We now have data on more than 1000 operators and it’s very encouraging to see the white space in the industry.
The biggest challenge is the emotionality of entrepreneurship. Few understand the depth of how hard it hits when you discover a competitor raised a new round or when new information makes you re-think a piece of the business model. I’m fortunate to be as stubborn as a mule with a ton of industry knowledge, so each time I get new info, I re-work that piece so it makes sense for our tour operators, industry partners and our company. My favorite conversations are with people who challenge everything I am doing, like Mario Avila of the Turner Family Center (MBA 2012). As I plug each of the holes, it makes my plan stronger – but it’s hard not to feel a little like you just got ripped apart at the seams.
Is there an example of something that you learned at Owen that you apply in your business?
It’s been really valuable to have been committed to Multriply for my entire 2nd year at Owen because I get to be in class and apply the lectures and readings to my company. The initial name for the company – Vrion Ticketing – was from a Corporate Strategy framework. I built out a sales team commission structure after going through Selling Strategy with Professor Posavac. I was a teaching assistant for Michael Burcham for 6 Mods. All of my learnings at Owen have been valuable, but it’s really been the support I’ve gotten from professors, staff and other students that has helped me stay sane and encouraged.
What are your goals for Multriply in the future?
To not fail. I’m moving to Seattle in May right after graduation and I’m going to be a tour guide on the weekends this summer to extend my runway to a full year. I need to find a developer who is interested in growing this business with me, so I’ve created a calendar of networking events for my first three months in Seattle. I have started to reach out to some Owen alums and my travel industry contacts in Seattle, so that those conversations are started. The goal is to start developing ASAP and then raise capital.
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for current Owen students that want to start a company?
Do it. Ask for help from everyone. Research every piece of your industry and find your niche. Start early. Dream big. (But, seriously… just do it.)
Here is a video of Trisha during a talk at Owen.