Join Universe Founder Marcelo Barreneche – TripStates Gets You To The States And Back Again
Marcelo Barreneche is an Uruguayan born London resident who has enjoyed visiting The U.S. so much that his website, TripStates is dedicated to people who want to visit Stateside. His idea for an “all-in-one website where anyone can easily book travel services” functions also to make suggestions as to what tourists can enjoy depending on the cities or states chosen. There are many tourist destinations and TripStates can help you choose that as well.
He realized that when tourists from abroad wanted to visit U.S.A., they usually had to check at least 3 websites in order to plan and book their trip. No longer is this the case with TripStates.
In addition, TripStates offers users access to special deals, travel tips, maps, and customer service. Barreneche knows it’s important to listen to what users have to say, so that’s why he’s got his ear to the ground working hard to make TripStates the premiere destination for planning trips to the States.
Barreneche was excited to talk to KillerStartups about the beginnings and the future of TripStates. Here’s what he shared in conversation with us:
Starting out, what was it like at TripStates?
Basically, I got investors and formed my company JoinUniverse, from which came TripStates. I had previous experience with working on sites about Uruguayan and Chilean tourism so I had relevant experience that I applied to TripStates. TripStates is a lot of leg work – lot’s of hard work but we have our goals clear and we know what we need to accomplish.
So how did you go about funding TripStates?
Well, I was living in London when I pitched a friend and business contact and his investment was the beginning. He invested GBP 20k. From there we ended up putting things in order legally and we then hired 1 person part time and 2 full time people in addition to myself.
We lost money in our first year and that was disappointing though expected. Actually, it was around that time that I decided to do my MBA in one year instead of two years.
I then regrouped and raised USD 40k to concentrate more on TripStates. There are some other things I’ve been working on too.
With all of your projects, how many people are involved?
Well, since Join Universe is the main company under which the others are… today we have fixed term contracts with over 15 people from around the world. They’re from U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, UK, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Kenya, Egypt, and Paraguay.
And how do you see Trip States and your projects panning out in the next five years?
Well, our vision is to concentrate on TripStates and PaseosExcursiones, our e-commerce tours website for Spanish speaking countries. We’re considering opening a Join Universe branch in The U.S. although right now that’s not set in stone. We’ve got to let the market decide that one!
Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
In terms of personal life, that’s easy. My wife. Also inspiration in her experience in social projects, which sometimes we forget about but that are very important. I was inspired to learn more about some shocking scenarios, volunteer in some charitable house-building opportunities, and as a result I decided to concentrate in business ethics to better understand how to allocate resources to develop our CSR initiatives.
Well, professionally? In things like Web 3.0, minimalist designs like Google, or other companies that deliver friendly platforms that make your life easier in a variety of ways.
Also I get inspired when reading about internet start-ups that work for the overall good in any industry. Really, any website or app that makes things easier for a specific task. It makes me think about how I can refine ideas that I’m already working on for future projects.
And in terms of success, what does that mean to you and do you think you’ve achieved success?
In my opinion, to be successful means to achieve the expectations and objectives you defined for yourself within a set time-frame. This can be applied to either work or lifestyle.
When talking about lifestyle, I am very grateful for my beautiful wife who shares my life with me and helps me on every project I want to start. I’m also happy about living in a city we both love and about being surrounded by friends. In regards to my professional life, I try to enjoy every-day achievements like this interview with KillerStartups!
So, what advice would you have for someone thinking about starting up their own business?
There are few things that everyone needs to consider when starting a business such as passion, persistence, and confidence. Entrepreneurs always take calculated risks and sometimes they are creative.
What I would personally recommend is to set deadlines – time is a very important factor. In my case, I have always valued doing the best you can in the shortest time possible, and when talking about internet projects that can make all the difference.
Do you have any favorite ways to relax and unwind when Join Universe isn’t calling your name?
Going on holidays with my wife is my favorite, yeah.
Where do you like to go?
Since I live in London, my wife and I like to take time to leave the city and go to the beach.
And in terms of travel, where would you like to visit that you’ve not already been?
Any country in Asia would be great because in Asia things are emerging as a whole and so quickly too. It’d be interesting to see the contrasts.
I like to ask about languages. Which do you speak and how did you learn them?
I’m a native Spanish speaker as I’m Uruguayan. I’m fluent in English too which I learned in primary school and that improved even more so once I came to study in London. I tried to learn Mandarin Chinese for two years but it was an awful experience because it was tough and I could only count to ten really.
What do you find is the best way to balance work with your personal life?
I’ve been looking for the answer to that since I started working but I haven’t found it yet. However, smart phones, tablets, and Wi-Fi hot spots have contributed a lot to dead working hours (i.e. when travelling) and those things transform those dead hours into productive hours. Moreover, working via the internet enables you sometimes to work without a real need of being in an actual office or at the actual meetings. This allows you to travel and settle where it’s more convenient for you and therefore it ends up improving your lifestyle.