UCL Innovation and Enterprise


Tripbod: a new kind of travel guide

22 November 2012

Oh, the places you’ll go…

Travel can be a mixed blessing, as UCL graduate Sally Broom (BSc Human Sciences, 2006) discovered on her gap year in South East Asia in 2007. Her desire to get off the beaten track and discover the heart of a place had been successful in Thailand, but led to an unpleasant experience with border guards in Cambodia. The difference, she realised, was the ‘insider knowledge’ gained by having good contacts in Bangkok. From this, the idea for Tripbod.com, which links curious travellers with trusted locals who can advise them on their journey, was born.


Adventures in entrepreneurship

When Sally returned to UCL to complete her degree, she still intended to pursue a career in law. But having enrolled on a Business Entrepreneurship course, run by Professor Philip Treleavan, she registered for UCL Advances’ London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge. “Sally was different from many other students in that she had a practical, workable concept,” says Philip. “She was also determined and enthusiastic. UCL Advances gave her the support to turn a good idea into a high profit-margin business, one that not only helps Brits abroad but also benefits local communities in more than 50 countries.”

After three months of workshops on topics ranging from assessing an idea to securing funding to maintaining intellectual property rights, Sally launched YourSafePlanet.com, aimed at gap-year students and volunteers. Due to queries from a wider range of potential travellers, YourSafePlanet became Tripbod, which has since linked hundreds of travellers with locals (‘tripbods’) in destinations ranging from Russia to Rwanda. In late 2009 Tripbod was named best new travel website by the Times.

Hitting the big-time

Back home in Cumbria, Sally continued her relationship with UCL Advances.

“With UCL’s help, we increased the number of fulltime employees and investors, and built a better technical platform with specialised help.”

Now she offers UCL graduates internships as well as mentoring to those who want to start businesses.

In May 2014, TripBod was acquired by internet travel giant TripAdvisor. This exciting next step matches the company’s goals and values. “When TripAdvisor expressed an interest in bringing our community, team and product into their ecosystem, we knew this was the way to go. Anyone can see the fit is perfect,” says Sally, “so we are naturally very excited about the next chapter.”