Alumna’s Venture Named Startup of the Year

By Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumna Amanda Joseph’s (MBA ’19) travel-planning platform has been named an “MBA startup to look out for” and the 2020 MBA startup of the year by the MBA-focused publication Business Because.

The business, Trulli, is described as a combination of Instagram and TripAdvisor, resulting in what the publication called “the ultimate travel planner.”

Business Because interviewed Joseph about the founding of the company and her plans for the future.

Q. How did the idea come about?

A: The idea for Trulli arose from planning a four-month trip around the world before starting my MBA.

I was thrilled at the opportunity to travel, but overwhelmed by the amount of information available and unsure of who to trust or how to account for differences in taste. I found myself faced with the analysis paralysis that comes with thirty open browser tabs.

On my trip, I realized my favorite moments frequently came from friends’ recommendations, but I struggled to know who to ask (‘Did I see an Instagram last year of you in Japan?’). I arrived at Darden with the goal to simplify travel planning through the lens of personal recommendations.

Q: How has your MBA helped you develop your business?

A: Darden has been foundational in building Trulli. I refined my idea through boundary-pushing classes like Design Thinking and Effectuation, met inspiring mentors, and won grants through the iLab Incubator and Entrepreneurship Cup.

Darden also introduced me to Trulli’s ideal users: MBAs. Surrounded by target users, I conducted interviews, tested product, quickly iterated, and was inspired to initially launch exclusively at business schools. As any MBA knows, we travel a lot ($21k avg. social travel spend/two years!) and are part of a diverse community with extensive travel experience. Trulli allows students to foster connections and benefit from their network’s knowledge.

Trulli was previously named one of the “most disruptive” MBA startups by Poets & Quants.

Read the full story on Business Because.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia