There is no better time than now to be an entrepreneur at Booth. Students can gain access to industry professionals through the Polsky Center, learn from seasoned veterans in the classroom, and partner with classmates to compete in the New Venture Challenge—one of the top-ranked accelerator programs in the country. Inspired by a trip with 350 of our closest Boothie friends, Moises Numa and Andreina Chacin, members of the Class of 2019, decided to focus their entrepreneurial spirit on an industry all Boothies become very familiar with… travel.
Moises and Andreina played a major role in organizing the Colombia Spring Break trip in March 2018. With over 350 Boothies signed up to fly to Colombia that week, the travel agency organizing the trip quickly learned they needed all the help they could get. This dynamic duo handled most of the communication with us travelers leading up to the week, and even planned events such as the epic Yacht Party in Cartagena.
Although it was an amazing trip (I can certainly attest to that), both Moises and Andreina felt there was room for improvement. Moises grew up visiting the islands off the coast of Cartagena and relaxing on the many beautiful beaches throughout the country. After weeks of hype for the Spring Break, he returned to Chicago nervous that our classmates had not been exposed to the real “Colombia Experience.”
Moises and Andreina took note of where efficiencies could be made in planning the trip and started analyzing the data points. In true Booth fashion, they saw a market opportunity and decided to jump in with their own idea, Modo Travel.
In order to establish Modo, a company dedicated towards sharing local experiences with travelers, both leaders relied on lessons from classes they had taken at Booth.
Moises analyzed the opportunity by building an account-based unit model, as introduced by Professor Scott Meadow in Commercializing Innovation. In his analysis, he incorporated industry considerations, such as network effects, a concept well explored in Platform Competition taught by Professor Austan Goolsbee.
Andreina also utilized the Booth curriculum when zooming in on customer preferences. She stated that Professor Brad Shapiro’s Marketing Strategy and Professor Chris Ryan’s Managing Service Operations helped her tremendously when thinking through Modo’s differentiating factors.
Modo has certainly encountered some challenges in its early stage. School representatives were impressed by the unique itinerary and low price being offered, but were apprehensive given the lack of track record. Moises and Andreina overcame this hurdle by relying on the Booth community to bridge the gap between other schools. It is the greater MBA community, after all, that Modo is trying to engage.
Interest in partnering with Modo has been growing faster than anticipated. The team has already planned a trip to Colombia later this year for a group of MBA students from UNC Kenan-Flagler. They are in talks with the Harris School of Public Policy, as well as the University of Virginia Darden and University of Michigan Ross business schools. Eventually, the team would like to plan multi-school trips inside and outside of Latin America that bring students together from across the country.
It is clear that Modo is much more than just a travel agency. It is a brand dedicated to designing inclusive experiences that celebrate the “MBA Experience.” In pursuing their passion for travel, culture, and friendship through Modo, Moises and Andreina have found their beach, and they urge other entrepreneurs at Booth to continue to define theirs.