Aigerim Duiseneyeva graduated from the USC Marshall School of Business in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in finance and international relations. After graduation she moved to New York, where she worked as an analyst for UBS’ Global Consumer Products & Retail Investment Banking Group for two years.
She returned to USC to compete against Master’s business students in the New Venture Seed Competition, in which she and her partners presented their business idea, Triptrotting, and won second place.
Daily Trojan: What is Triptrotting and how does it work?
Aigerim Duiseneyeva: Triptrotting is an online platform that connects travelers with like-minded locals around the world. Imagine yourself going to Dubai and actually knowing someone local before you arrive.
Someone who’s your age, is in the same profession, has similar interests and aspirations and also comes from one of the top universities. That’s what we do.
We connect students and young professionals when they travel with students and young professionals in their travel destination. And we connect them using a personality matching algorithm.
It looks at your interests and your personality and what you want to do, and it matches you with someone in that location who is similar to you.
DT: How did you come up with Triptrotting?
Duiseneyeva: The idea came from our own experiences, actually, myself and my business partner. We both went to USC’s Marshall School of Business, and while at Marshall we traveled extensively. I have personally been to over 10 different travel destinations: Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing.
We went to Mexico, we went to Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore … So in all of those trips we noticed that everywhere we went we met American students, but we never saw any of the local students … We wanted a way to go beyond just taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower, to actually meeting peers.
DT: How did you develop your idea?
Duiseneyeva: We founded Triptrotting in the end of 2009, and in April 2010 there was a Seed competition at Marshall. We competed against other people at the Master’s level, so against people with MBAs, and we were one of the winners … But really it was the connections we made through that competition that mattered.
Through that competition we were introduced to someone from Idealab, Brad Hines, who was one of the coaches there. A few months later when we got back in touch, they were interested in potentially investing.
DT: How do you want Triptrotting to influence students?
Duiseneyeva: Our mission is to expand cultural understanding. At the end of the day we are all the same; regardless of your background, regardless of what country you’re from, we’re all people. And what we want students to realize from the TripTrotting experience is that when you meet a person from another culture, someone you’ve never spoken to, and you become friends, that creates a special relationship across the world.
DT: What trips have you taken that have influenced your life?
Duiseneyeva: When I went to Dubai I met some locals, which is hard to do because 80% of residents in Dubai are expats from the Western World. We met some locals, who were 25 and went to the university … It changes your perception of the local country from the local’s perspective.
What I learned is that the locals are not doing well; I saw first-hand the effects of Westernization in that country.
DT: What was the most influential trip you took while you went to USC?
Duiseneyeva: The most influential one was the first trip I took to Tokyo, which was in March of 2006. It was my first trip to Asia, and that really opened my eyes to differences in Asian culture and tradition … We had meetings with companies organized by Marshall School of Business.
So not only did I get to experience the culture, but I got to explore the business side of the city and the government … You’re not just going there and taking a picture; you’re taking real, educational experiences back with you.
DT: What is your present relationship with USC?
Duiseneyeva: We are working with Marshall School of Business, with all of their exchange programs, all of their short- and long-term trips. As an alum I am very connected. I like to work on career panels, talk to students about their experiences.
DT: What clubs or activities were you involved in at USC?
Duiseneyeva: When I went to USC I was part of the Marshall International Case Competition, which was the most amazing thing I could have done … They choose four students to compete in these competitions all around the world, in Hong Kong, Ohio State, McGill and at home. So in teams of four they present you with a case and you have to crack the case, come up with a solution and make a presentation.
DT: What was the most valuable part of your experiences with USC?
Duiseneyeva: One thing that I took away from USC that I really appreciate is the skill sets and abilities involved in networking. I acquired a lot of confidence from meeting people from other places, and I think those experiences are really what separates USC from other schools.
DT: What advice would you give to current students?
Duiseneyeva: Take advantage of the USC network. It doesn’t matter what career you’re choosing or where you want to go in your life, the USC network is the most amazing thing I have ever had access to. My second piece of advice is to follow your passion. There are a lot of myths about what you’re supposed to do after you graduate. I know a lot of people who I went to school with now who aren’t happy because they’re not doing something they like. It is really important to follow your passion, and when you do so, you are going to be very successful in your career.