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GIST Advantage: Ideas Have No Gender

January 29, 2018

For two women engineers who work in a male-dominant industry, Andrea Carolina Buitrago and Rossi Lara found becoming entrepreneurs helped them smash through the glass ceiling. Together, Rossi and Andrea created To Make You Go, a travel startup that aims to break barriers that make traveling difficult.

To Make You Go creates travel plans for people on a budget. Based on how much money you can spend, the website suggests which flights to take, where to stay and even where to eat. Based on your answers, the website will also offer other travel itineraries to places you might not otherwise consider visiting.

“Andrea and I are engineers,” said Rossi. “In that field surrounded by men, you have to demonstrate that you are able to be there, you have to do more and be rude, otherwise the men tend not to see you as an equal.”

But as entrepreneurs, Andrea and Rossi said they are equals to everyone else. This is because entrepreneurs are usually judged on the merit of their ideas, said Rossi, “Ideas have no gender.”

Rossi and Andrea met during graduate school. Working together on class projects, and eventually at the same company, the two realized they were stronger working together. United by a love for travel and a desire to make it easier for everyone to travel, Rossi, Andrea and former partner Carlos Perry launched EnMochila – now known as ToMakeYouGo.com.

“I felt it was a great idea to work together because each one of us had different skills, so we balanced each other,” said Andrea.

But in 2015, Andrea and Rossi said they were still not sure if their startup was actually addressing the needs of their customer base. So they decided to enroll in the GIST Boot Camp in Bogotá, Colombia. The team said in just three days, they learned what they were doing that was working for their startup and what they needed to change.

“The thing we remember the most, and that we keep using, is ‘Talking to Humans.’ It was the book that we read before the boot camp and that we used throughout it,” said Andrea. “It always amazes us all the insights that one can get from speaking one-on-one with a customer, and from really trying to understand the underlying issues that are important to them.”

Andrea and Rossi were honored with the Outstanding Female Entrepreneur award at the boot camp.

Since the boot camp three years ago, the startup duo said they have continued to grow. Rossi explained that the startup has more than 14,000 likes on Facebook, and just underwent a name change and brand refresh to attract more customers. To Make You Go is now also partnered with Skyscanner, a travel website available in 30 different languages and used by 60 million people every month.

“You have to focus. Do not be discouraged by finding the hundred and one ways to do it upside down,” said Rossi. “And be positive. Every little thing was impossible until a dreamer made that come true.”