Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Engagement and Retention with Samantha Patil

George Grombacher June 22, 2023

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Engagement and Retention with Samantha Patil

LifeBlood: We talked about the engagement and retention of customers, how to create a great user experience that keeps keeping coming back and sharing, how to think about growth, the challenges and opportunities of new technology, and being a successful entrepreneur, with Samantha Patil, Founder and CEO of Well Traveled.     

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You can learn more about Samantha at WellTraveleldClub.com, TikTok, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Samantha Patil

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Well blood for this George gene that time is right welcome today’s guest Trump office math Patel. Samantha, how you ready to do this?

Samantha Patil 0:09
Let’s do it.

george grombacher 0:10
Let’s go. Samantha is the founder and CEO of well traveled it is the home for a new generation of travelers, foodies and adventure seekers. excited to have you back on the show. Samantha, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Samantha Patil 0:27
Thank you for having me back. I really appreciate it. I guess I can tell you a little bit about well travels, that was a great introduction. Thank you. I’d say a big part of why I do. What I do is, I love the idea of connecting people to one another. I’ve always been a connector in my personal life. And I think fundamentally, the more time we can spend outside of our comfort zones, traveling exploring different, different places, connecting with people that maybe think differently to us, dress differently to us, eat different foods to us, the better off we’d all be. And it would create more empathy and a better and more connected world. So that’s a really big reason for why we do what we do and why we built well traveled is a place for people to come together and connect over something that they love, which is travel and new experiences and meeting new people.

george grombacher 1:19
Well, I think that that’s well said right there. And yes, probably, this is probably what everybody thinks that. But I feel like we’ve never been more disconnected and the more empathetic we can be to one another and realize that we’re way more similar than we are different than the world be a better place. So. So I appreciate your work. And and also, that just the flexibility and being able to roll with the punches. I’m sure that you’re experiencing that I forget how old well traveled is. And yeah, I know that you’ve got some changes that are you’ve been going through?

Samantha Patil 1:56
Yeah, we are still a really young company. You know, I think we were on your show maybe 10 months or so ago. But, you know, we were really founded in April of 2021. So we’re really just a couple years old. And I think anyone that started a company in the last like two to three years like deserves a badge of honor, because it has been a really chaotic time to build a new business given the obviously the pandemic and that had a particular impact on travel companies. But it really impacted everybody’s business. Obviously, like everything that’s been going on in the startup world, and like the banking world, things have just changed and evolved a lot on the fundraising side of things. And then obviously just like the greater like macro economic environment, you’ve had elections, it’s just an all I think there’s people are starting to say things like I’m getting tired of living through unprecedented times, like I would just like to live through normal times. And then you add into that like building a business creating something new starting from zero. And it’s it’s been a wild ride that I have learned so much on. It’s like just a quick crash course in entrepreneurship, how to fail fast pivot and build back up again.

george grombacher 3:17
Yeah, I think that we all long for more precedent times think that that’s a super funny thing. Just a little bit of normalcy here.

Samantha Patil 3:23
Yeah, exactly. Right.

george grombacher 3:25
So you are you’re you’re you’ve launched or you’re launching an app, is that something that you always planned on doing?

Samantha Patil 3:34
It’s something we always wanted to do, it’s something that took a lot longer than we thought it would to do, which is something I’ve learned, happens quite frequently, when you’re building a tech company. We did launch it, we launched it in September. Right now it’s available in the App Store on Apple, we will be launching an android version soon. And I think for us a big part of that was a lot of people come to well travelled for inspiration, when they’re thinking about where they want to go next, or what part of the world they want to explore. And with the app, what that really helped us with was to become a tool that can be really useful for people while they were traveling. So within the app environment, because we obviously have access to your location, you can then actually just be like, Okay, I just landed in Barcelona, and in the city center, I can open up the app, see where I am on the map and check out all the awesome places that have been recommended by other members right around me. So that’s been really cool to see members use the product in that way and give them more confidence. I think when they land in a new place that they’ll be able to open up, well traveled and find something cool to do or a cool restaurant to visit or somewhere new to try.

george grombacher 4:48
It makes a ton of sense. And if you had just said or you just said, Well chocolate has an app I would have just thought oh cool, you’ll be able to scroll through connect with other people and check out cool stuff. I wouldn’t have immediately thought this is a wall, you’re there. But that makes perfect sense. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Is Is that what you sort of intended or did that morphin line,

Samantha Patil 5:15
you know, a little bit of both. I think a lot of it comes from feedback and how people are using, we’re using the web product and sort of things that they were like, it’d be really cool if I could do this. And there’s things that we’re still adding to the features within the app, to make it more user friendly for people while they’re traveling. But that was definitely one of the biggest things that we wanted to make available to people is to have it feel like you could sort of immerse yourself in the product and be able to see things around you just to make it like more relevant even, you know, in your own city to write because then you can kind of open it up and be like, I can see what’s nearby and just be able to help people make faster decisions, save them some time and give them the confidence that they’re gonna go and have a great experience somewhere. So that was always definitely top of mind, I think the connectivity between members is always been really important. And we’re continuing to think about how we can make that better through like group conversations, you can have one on one conversations on the platform now. And then eventually, hopefully, I’d love to be able to launch them like member trips, this is something we get a big request for of people that want to go to different places explore new places together. And we have a lot of solo travelers that are members, a lot of female solo travelers specifically, and a lot of them are looking to connect with other people that are doing the same thing. And so I think there’s an appetite for doing things like that. So we’ll continue to explore what that could look like, in the next year or so.

george grombacher 6:43
It makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah,

Samantha Patil 6:46
that’s been really cool to see people are getting excited about that, and just getting more connected to each other. Because that was like, really, the whole point of building this from that community lens was to help people to help foster that connection piece of it.

george grombacher 7:02
Are you I’m like a quickstart kind of person. I love shiny objects and new things. And so whenever I get a chance to talk to somebody with a cool business like yours, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I could do this, this, this and this. How do you how do you decide which ideas to pursue and which to? Not?

Samantha Patil 7:21
It’s a really good question. I would say we so what we did at the beginning of the year is we put together like our dream list of like, what would we build if we had all the money in the world and all the time in the world? Before even getting to that point, a lot of that is informed by member feedback. So last, I want to say September, October, we did something like 60 member interviews, where we we sat down with people, we asked them questions, what do you love about the product, what you hate about it? And a lot of times, I think people don’t necessarily know what they want, it’s our job to figure it out based on the problems that they’re having. But when you do that many interviews, you can start to pull out patterns will naturally emerge. So we took a lot of that information, and then followed it into how do we solve those problems? Are there? Are they multi level? Are there different features and products that we can create to solve those problems? And then we started mapping those out those different solutions and features mapping them out to kind of like, like, thematically Is this a community feature is this a site improvement is this solving, like a trip planning problem This customer is having, and then we just started laying them out in terms of like level of effort versus like return on that investment. And anything that’s like low level of effort, high return on investment that gets prioritized. Anything that’s like low return high level of effort that gets D prioritized. And then everything in the middle, we start to go through and sort of stack rank them. sort of based on like T shirt sizing is just like a big, medium or small undertaking. And that’s kind of how we put the roadmap together. And then we just back it into the amount of hours that we have to work with our developer on what we can get done. So we’re working on some pretty fun features at the moment that will really enhance the trip planning experience for members. So we’re really excited about that actually just sent off the product brief to our designer today. So that’s, that’s our next product endeavor.

george grombacher 9:21
That’s awesome. And that certainly does make sense. And I also like the t shirt analogy.

Samantha Patil 9:28
Yeah. Yeah. It helps. It’s simple, but it helps,

george grombacher 9:32
right? Well, we certainly have a tendency to overcomplicate things at least at least I do. So in terms of we were talking a little bit before we hit record about raising money and and what it may be a shift away from growth at all costs to what is success, and how do we create sustainable long term growth? How do you think about that?

Samantha Patil 10:02
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s been a lot of pressure in sort of like the traditional startup culture to build a product, and then immediately drive as much growth as possible and just pour people into that funnel. I think, where there hasn’t been as much care and intention put into that process is the quality of those customers, are they the right customers, and I think there’s always tension within companies, between the acquisition team and sort of like the in house marketing team that’s really speaking to the existing customers around, hey, I got this great lead into the, you know, it’s gonna be a great customer, I got him for super, super cheap. Whereas the in house teams like, that’s actually not the right customer profile for this product, that that person is not going to stick around, or they’re going to return the product, if it’s a physical product, or they’re going to be a bad customer. So like, I think what’s happened lately with startups is there was this fork selection function around you, and you raise venture capital, and then you have a lot of pressure to hit certain milestones and certain metrics, once you raise that venture capital to get the next milestone. And most of the time, they kind of end up being vanity metrics. It’s like, okay, so you’re growing 30% 40% 50% 100% month over month. But what’s happening on the other side? Are people churning? Are people still engaged with the product? Is even what you’re doing, like, the right product? For people? Is it enhancing their lives in a positive way? Like, I think about casinos, and like slot machines are a really good example. Right? If you were to look at the data on those, they’re obviously like, highly addictive, and people will spend hours and hours in front of a slot machine. But are you really creating a product that’s helping someone or improving the quality of their life or something that’s going to have longevity. So I think people are starting to because the model hasn’t worked for a lot of like, quote, unquote, high growth, early stage startups. I think an example of this is like, you know, like a clubhouse, right, like they had a lot of hype, they grew really fast. And they hadn’t really done the legwork or laid the groundwork of a good foundation to have a strong and engaged community that was built on retention and engagement. So I look at a lot of this stuff, and just try to think about it like, Okay, I want to make sure that we’ve built our membership foundation in a way that our core group of people that we’re starting with our base, love our product, they’re engaged, they want to be members for life, they are buying our swag, they’re, you know, we’re running a crowdfunding campaign, if they’re investing in our company, like, these are our super fans, because those people are going to bring in more awesome people and who are going to continue to bring in more awesome people. So I think when you can get that, right, the it’s a bit of a slower upstart to that growth curve, it’s not an immediate hockey stick, you get to the same place, it just might take slightly longer, but the quality and the longevity that you’re going to create, is going to be more impactful. At least that’s how we’re approaching our growth and how we’re building the company.

george grombacher 13:18
That sounds like it makes perfect sense.

Samantha Patil 13:20
It does to me, but I don’t know, I mean, to each their own, right, like, I think, you know, everyone’s gonna have their own way of doing it. But I think for especially for community led products, you have to be really, really intentional about your initial cohort of customers to make sure they’re the right customers.

george grombacher 13:38
Right, because if they’re not, then they won’t show up. Or they show up and they’re terrible, and they’re

Samantha Patil 13:44
toxic. And that’s the problem, right? They’re toxic. Because if you’re looking at like just, you know, you’re buying a t shirt online, we’ll go back to T shirts, I guess, if I if you buy a t shirt, and you’d hate it and return it, that doesn’t really affect me buying a t shirt and loving it. But if you’re not the right person for the community product, you can poison the well pretty quickly and affect other people. Because in community products, like the people sort of are the product they have, they play a really big role in the value creation. So you really want to make sure you get it right, because they impact everybody impacts each other within those types of platforms. Yeah. And that was again, the problem with with with a lot of what happened with clubhouses, that people that were on the platform, the content got less regulated, it sort of became very bizarre and hard to find relevant content and it all kind of like deteriorated from there.

george grombacher 14:35
I literally haven’t heard that name in months, if not a year. And for a while it was ubiquitous. Hmm. Yeah, crazy. So you mentioned crowdfunding how in this video, you can say that you don’t want to answer it. Did y’all raise money are how? How did you capitalize

Samantha Patil 15:00
We’ve raised some venture capital. And then we raised mostly from angels. And angel groups, we were part of the Snapchat accelerator. So they invested. And then through a few different sort of collectors on top of that, the crowdfunding campaign is something that we recently launched. And it’s been so cool to see our members get so excited about investing and owning a piece of well travelled. So that was something we did a sort of an extension of our last round to offer our members the ability to support the company and like own a small piece of the business as we continue to grow. And again, I think that just kind of speaks to like the power of community products. When you build something that people really resonate with, they’re excited to support it. So I gotten like a few requests for it, and then started going down this path and then realized, like, yeah, there’s a really big appetite for this. So it’s been really, really cool to see that come together.

george grombacher 16:11
Must be just fascinating process of Yeah, perhaps you already knew how to do it.

Samantha Patil 16:16
I did not, I think I don’t I don’t know how to do anything, is what I’ve realized, before starting this company, I was like, but like, learn by doing right. Like, I think the best way to like figure something out is to just do it. Because I don’t think anybody has any idea what they’re doing until they do it.

george grombacher 16:33
I think that that’s 100%. True. Okay. Nice. So, couple of years in. It’s all is it sort of like you thought it would be?

Samantha Patil 16:49
I don’t know what I thought it was going to be like, it wasn’t this. I mean, I just, I don’t think you’ve any idea what you’re getting yourself into. And I’ll preface this by saying like, I love my job. I love what I do. As like most founders, I think, like the company that I’m building with my team is very much like a part of me like there’s no sort of like hard line here. It’s all blended. I’m so proud of it. I’m so proud of my team. They’re incredible. And I would never have done this without them. They’re just the best group of people. But like, building a startup is absolutely crazy. Like, you have to be a little bit nervous to want to do this. Because it’s like, there’s there’s this book by Mark Manson. The Subtle Art of not giving a fuck, I don’t know if I can swear in this podcast. And he talks about like, what kind of shit sandwich Do you want to eat? Because there’s always going to be one, there’s always going to be stuff that sucks about what you’re doing. And I will say with startups, it’s like, a lot of rejection, right? Especially if you’re fundraising, it’s a lot of trying things and failing over and over again until you get it right. It’s having a lot of like resilience while also being really creative. It’s it’s so it’s, and I love that like, for me, that’s very motivating and it I love not doing the same thing every day. But I’m also someone that like, can’t sit still, like I’m not somebody that like can have like a lazy Sunday. I’m like always doing something if it’s not working, I’m cleaning the house and going on a run and walking like I’m very I have a lot of energy. So I think for me, this is the right thing to be doing. But I think it’s also can be very overwhelming at times. So to answer your original question, I don’t know that I could have ever pictured it as it is right now. But I’m also so grateful for where it is right now. Because it’s taught me so much about running building a company leadership myself, like, you know, balancing like your personal life, your work life. Like there’s been so much that I don’t think I realized I was gonna learn going through this process. Yeah, yeah.

george grombacher 19:09
I don’t doubt that for a second. Yeah. Well, it’s it’s been fun to to learn about well traveled and just to track your progress over the course of the last year. And I’m super excited what the future holds. So I appreciate you coming back on the show. Where can people where can people learn about you? And where can they find well traveled and tell us about the app, all the

Samantha Patil 19:30
things so you can find us at well traveled club.com at well traveled club on Instagram and Tiktok and the app is available in the app store you can just search well traveled club and it should pop up. And those are really the best places to find us.

george grombacher 19:50
Excellent. Well if you enjoyed as much as I did, show some of your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to well traveled club duck harm, find him on social media at well traveled club, and then go to the app store and download the well traveled club app and get connected. It’s a super cool community where you can just get really practical information and you could trust the results and just a lot of really, really, really cool stuff going on. And obviously, new stuff happening all the time. So I appreciate it. Thanks. Good, Samantha.

Samantha Patil 20:30
Thank you so fun. Thanks for having me back.

george grombacher 20:33
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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