Site connects travelers to share costs and experience
If you have a bucket list, you more than likely have a few trips to far away (or nearby) locales filling the top spots. For millennials who’ve caught the travel bug, however, the cost of traveling can sometimes stand in the way of a new adventure. That’s where Toledo-based GAFFL hopes to help. Whether you’re looking for art and charcuterie in Paris or koalas in Australia, GAFFL’s site helps connect travelers who are going to the same place at the same time. Instead of paying and journeying separately, GAFFL’s mission is to use the digital age to inspire lifelong connections that make travel accessible to all.
“We connect travelers with similar itineraries to share costs and experiences,” said Akib Amin, co-founder. “Let’s say you’re going to Iceland next month, with GAFFL, you can actually just type in ‘Iceland’ and hit search to find people who are going to the same place at the same time as you. GAFFL is an application that actually favors like-mindedness on both sides. So once someone has started a trip, you have the option to like and join that trip. If that person likes you back and wants to connect, then you can begin planning your journey.”
Like Tinder for traveling, GAFFL is built upon people who mutually agree to connect. From there, the site ensures the safety of their travelers through a multi-step verification process to provide ease-of-mind for strangers embarking on a shared journey.
“To use GAFFL there’s basically a three-step verification process,” said Amin. “A user goes through phone verification, social account verification, so your Facebook or LinkedIn, and then ID verification. We also encourage people to facilitate the process by building up their profiles on our site. You’ll see people with amazing profiles that contain the story of their life and what their hopes and dreams are and that will help make a real connection.”
For many millennials, traditional jobs might not hold the same appeal as a life of remote work and travel. Where GAFFL cuts costs by sharing trip expenses, it also promises real connections that are encouraged through this digital interaction.
“When I was thinking about making this site, I realized the one thing I knew about myself was that I loved to make new connections and friends from all over the world,” said Amin. “After people connect through our site, they will reach out and say, ‘Hey we just traveled together and became lifelong friends.’ That connection has a second or third-degree implication when you start thinking about who you can introduce to your new friends as other people in your circle begin to travel.”
After winning a pitch competition through LaunchPad, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier based out of the University of Toledo, Amin and his team were able to create their product for travelers looking to combat loneliness and develop lasting friendships.
“We’re now working on GAFFL 3.0 and we’re surrounded by help from the startup community here,” said Amin. “It’s a lot like the community we want to build. We want to connect people all over the world, wherever they’re going, wherever they’re traveling to — it’s the anecdote to digital loneliness. This is digital connection.”