Trippie Dives Into ANBC's Shark Tank | Upstate Venture Connect

Trippie “dives” into ABC’s Shark Tank

By Dan Devries | Colgate’s Thought Into Action (TIA) Institute

A fledgling idea, born during an airport layover and cultivated with the help of Colgate’s Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Incubator, landed a recent alumnus on the two-hour season premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Much has happened since Ryan Diew ’17 stepped in front of cameras in early June to pitch his travel app, Trippie, on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Investors on the season nine premiere that aired October 1 pulled no punches in their criticism of the app, but Diew says he took their advice to heart, and he has been hard at work making Trippie the best airport navigation tool available on the Apple Store.

“I really have taken heed of a lot of their advice,” said Diew. “I think that I let my emotions get the best of me toward the end. I am really passionate about this, and I broke down, and that’s something I’ve learned from. I’ll never do that again.”

Trippie has expanded from four to 16 airports since the Shark Tank episode was filmed in June, and it now covers locations that account for 82 percent of all U.S. domestic air travel.

“I think they liked the idea, they liked my hustle, and they liked my grit,” said Diew, who graduated with a degree in computer science and played Division I basketball while at Colgate. Diew said he expects to appear during the show’s second hour.

Diew came up with his business, a phone app called Trippie, when he was a sophomore traveling from Colgate to his home in Oakland, Calif. During a long layover, he wanted to grab some food, but he also didn’t want to lug all of his carry-on baggage through the airport. So, he let a stranger watch his bags. He also didn’t want his quest for food to result in a missed flight.

He thought there had to be a better way. So, he invented one.

“Trippie is essentially an airport mapping service that allows travelers to explore a detailed interactive map of the airport to immediately get the lay of the land,” Diew explained. “It displays menus, reviews, hours, and even calculates how long it takes to get to your favorite food spot or restaurant so you don’t miss your flight.”

Trippie wasn’t always about helping travelers quickly locate food or stores in airports. When he first brought his idea to the TIA incubator, Diew was hoping to develop an airport food delivery app.

“If I really wanted this idea to be a thing, TIA was the place to go,” said Diew, but the experienced alumni entrepreneurs in the group quickly poked holes in his plan. “They pushed back immediately. When you’re in college and you have no experience, how are you going to hire the employees in the airport? How are you going to do this, do that? There’s was so much red tape, but I didn’t want to give up.”

Diew taught himself how to code Swift, one of the most popular app development languages, and he has worked to refine the product ever since. He also worked with former Colgate student Samantha Braver, and the two pitched Trippie at the 2016 Entrepreneur Weekend, where they took away more than $22,000 in funding. Braver later left Trippie for a job at Apple.

In 2017, Trippie was selected as an Entrepreneurs Fund recipient, which gave Diew $15,000 toward his venture and workspace in the downtown Hamilton incubator to work full time on his product. He was contacted for the Shark Tank opportunity after his business appeared in an Inc.com Coolest College Startup competition.

“Above all else, Ryan is insanely passionate about Trippie, and all of his mentors have seen this and admire this about him. In his view, the world will cease to exist without the app, and that’s exactly the mentality that every entrepreneur needs to have,” said TIA Alumni Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07. “As we say in TIA, passion is the fuel for action, and that’s exactly what has kept Ryan coming back to the challenge of Trippie, despite setbacks and pivots. We are very confident he will figure out how to thread the needle and make Trippie a huge success that helps millions of people!”

Despite being chewed to pieces by the “sharks,” Diew said that in the hours after the episode aired, Trippie was downloaded nearly 12,000 times before the web server he rented to keep up with demand crashed from the traffic. Even with technical problems, Trippie ranked 21st in travel on the App store on Monday, Oct. 2, and Diew expects his Android version to launch later this week.

“This was the chance of a lifetime, and I don’t regret any of it. The progress that we’ve made since my pitch has been amazing,” Diew said. “We’ve expanded and added functionality, making the app better. I’ll just continue to keep pushing.”

Colgate Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Career Initiatives Michael Sciola said he admired Diew’s willingness to put himself in front of an audience of millions in pursuit of his entrepreneurial dream.

“At Colgate, we teach our students that it is impossible to win a game if you are afraid to take a shot,” Sciola said. “I admire that Ryan took the chance to move his business forward and know that he will use this as a learning experience. I cannot wait to see what happens next!”

Thought Into Action Alumni Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07 said he’s been impressed with Diew’s grit and resilience. “His response to Shark Tank and Mark Cuban’s tough questions was to double down on product development and growth so he would be prepared for the bump he expected after the episode’s airing. He was laser focused over the past few months. That is the heart of a true entrepreneur. I know these are traits that have served him well in the classroom and on the basketball court, and now hopefully in business as well. It will be one of the marks of his life going forward. We are proud of Ryan.”

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This isn’t the first time an Upstate NY startup has made an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. Here’s a look at BrandYourself Now in 2017 – After Shark Tank Aired. While Cofounder Patrick Ambron was not able to secure an investment with the Sharks, the company is thriving. Read on for Patrick’s take on the Tank.
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