It all Started after a Trip to Silicon Valley
On an unsuspecting weekend in the Fall of 2016, I travelled solo to Cupertino, CA for a Startup School event hosted by Y Combinator at the De Anza College Flint Center – the same venue where Steve Jobs pitched the original Apple Macintosh in 1984.
It was a One-Day Event that brought me into the energy of the San Francisco Bay Area for my first time. I went there to get one step closer to the pursuit my startup dream, when at the time I was working on a Lead Tracking Platform by the name of Leadefy.
I met many interesting people that day and also had the opportunity to learn from Silicon Valley Legends including Paul Graham (Founder of Y Combinator), Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn), Ben Silbermann (Founder of Pinterest), and several active members of the Y Combinator Community.
It was a life changing day that quickly led me to where I am with Getogether today.
As the event wrapped up and the networking quickly fizzled off, I left the venue and found my way to Main St. Cupertino where I enjoyed a few lonely beers and dinner at a trendy bar I found at random. After dinner, the sun had set and my cell phone died which led me to getting lost in the dark streets of Cupertino while trying to navigate back to my Hotel through my inaccurate memory. Eventually I found my way back, and while I was a little shaken up after so many unknowns, it didn’t take me long to regroup and hit the nightlife and club scene across town in Mountain View on the same night.
The next morning I rented a Nissan Juke at the San Jose International Airport, and proceeded to explore more of the San Francisco Bay Area alone. My first stop was brunch at The Palo Alto Creamery (an Elon Musk favourite), followed by a self-guided walk through the prestigious campus of Stanford University.
By mid-afternoon, I made my way up to downtown San Francisco driving by Oracle Park and then walking from Pier 1 to Pier 39, followed by the Fisherman’s Wharf. I even came across two guys with a boat offering a once-in-a-lifetime cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge for $20. Of course I took them up on their offer – It really was a once-in-lifetime opportunity after all!
The next morning, I woke up early and boarded a flight from SFO to LAX, where my solo adventure would continue across Los Angeles and south to Huntington Beach.
As adventurous and iconic as this trip was, I felt alone and uncertain at times. The trip lacked social connections and could have used more guidance from Locals. Soon I would realize my lonely travels would lead to a new startup concept that had potential to bring travellers and locals together in local neighborhoods across the world!
Somewhere Between Los Angeles
and Huntington Beach ...
I Had a Light Bulb Moment
I arrived in Los Angeles on a rare overcast day. It was mid-morning and I had an Uber pick me up from LAX and take me to a co-working space I had a virtual address with by Venice Beach to get some work done for part of my working day. This is when things started to get a little more grim. I had been to Venice Beach on a few different occasions over the years, but this time the area had lost its shine. I recall walking to get Pizza a little scared for my safety. I went by the Beach and caught a sketchy vibe.
Alone in the middle of Venice, I was like “I need to get out of here”, so I went back to the co-working space to pick up my luggage, and hailed an Uber to take me to Marina Del Rey where I had a Class-A Airbnb lined up (so I thought). When I met my host in front of a massive Class-C apartment complex that looked nothing like the pictures in my booking. I quickly realized I had been bait and switched by an Airbnb swindler!
Within 5 minutes of getting my shared Airbnb apartment tour, I realized there was no way I could stay there for the nights ahead. I left the keys I was given in the kitchen drawer, and slammed the door shut on the worst Airbnb experience imaginable.
Thankfully, I had a good friend that lived in Diamond Bar that invited me to stay at his place, which included a view of Snoop Dogg’s mansion at the top of the hill. After an expensive One-Hour Uber ride to the other side of Los Angeles, I escaped all the scary feels and re-united with my friend in one of the most sought after suburbs of LA.
I didn’t realize it at the time – but the concept of Getogether was just days away from popping into my mind and becoming my greatest life’s work in the making.
The Los Angeles part of my trip certainly got off to a rough start. After getting settled into my friends place in Diamond Bar, the next day I picked up another car rental and found my way to SoCal in search of better vibes at Huntington Beach.
Alone once again, I walked along the Huntington Beach Main Street and Pier, ate lunch at Dukes, purchased my first ever Santa Cruz longboard, and proceeded to skateboard across the entire Huntington Beach Bike Trail – another dream come true!
As my afternoon wrapped up, I chose to make one more stop before heading back to Diamond Bar for the night. I went to Manhattan Beach – a local Los Angeles GEM!
This was my first visit to Manhattan Beach. I knew coworkers that lived here. My friend from Diamond Bar suggested I check it out. I had heard good things, but I didn’t know enough about the neighbourhood to get the most out of it. While I admired the locals living their best life, got my feet wet in the ocean, and ate dinner at a local bar – I felt like I missed out on things. I didn’t make a connection with a local. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet new people. I didn’t get to walk through the side street with all the shops, and I didn’t skateboard along the boardwalk – because I thought I wasn’t allowed. I left Manhattan Beach feeling like I missed out on the good life!
And then it Happened – I had the Biggest Light Bulb Moment of my Life!
While driving along the 105 on the long drive back to Diamond Bar, I thought to myself – my time at Manhattan Beach could have been so much better if their was an easy way to connect with a local; see the best of the neighborhood; and meet new people!
At that moment on the freeway, the infant concept behind Getogether was born!
It Took a Move from Toronto
to Vancouver to Bring Getogether to Life
As my life changing week of chasing the American Dream came to an end, I hopped back on a plane from LAX to YYZ and made my way back home to the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. Here I began developing my newfound startup concept with the goal of making it easy for travellers to connect with a local around the world – all while maintaining a healthy household of 4 and running my digital agency to make a living.
Building a startup from scratch is a hard thing to do alone. I had to come up with a name (the original name was “Hang with Me”), I had to find a technical co-founder (very hard to do overnight), I had to develop a prototype (hard to do without a technical co-found in-house), and I had to find product market-fit (also hard to do when bootstrapping and without venture funding).
Nevertheless, I pushed forward and took action, which is the most important thing to do as an entrepreneur. I explored the prospects of pursuing co-founder partnerships with people in my network (no one worked out). I created wireframes and design mockups that brought my vision to life (but got stuck at the design phase). I even attempted to fill out a Y Combinator application to secure VC investment. It felt like I was walking forward and sinking in mud at the same time.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2017, a year after my day at Y Combinators Startup School, I felt stuck but still had the desire to bring my startup dream to life. So I booked a flight to Vancouver, BC and attended Vancouver Startup Week with the hope of finding more inspiration and answers to move my startup forward.
It was through this trip that I found my love for the city of Vancouver and everything Beautiful BC had to offer. It felt like the place to be all things considered!
After my trip to Vancouver concluded I knew my family and I had to make a move, so I went home and managed to convince my family to sell our house and all our stuff to make an adventurous move out West for a fresh take on life; and an opportunity to pursue our biggest dreams in Canada’s most beautiful setting.
In the summer of 2018, our adventure of a lifetime began, as we proceeded to pack our family of four and our remaining belongs into our brand new SUV and road trip across the country from Toronto to Vancouver making epic stops along the way including Northwestern Ontario, Winnipeg MB, Regina SK, Calgary AB, Banff AB, Kelowna BC, Vancouver, BC, Vancouver Island, and Tofino, BC.
At each stop along the way, I found an opportunity for a Getogether-style travel experience to exist and serve those that wanted more out of their urban travels. I just didn’t know they would be called a Getogether yet, because the name didn’t come to me until after I settled with my family in Burnaby, BC right next to Vancouver, BC.
The name "Getogether" was Discovered from my Dining Room Table in BC
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Getogether delivers social-travel experiences that make it easy to connect with a local host & meet fellow travellers in local neighbourhoods across the world.