What do you do professionally?
I am the founder and CEO of Voyij, a travel tech company currently serving Alaska. We help travelers plan and book the best vacation: what to do, what to eat, and where to shop, all from hand-picked local businesses. We offer a never-been-built-before booking platform and itinerary planner that make vacationing so much easier (if you or a friend are planning a trip to Alaska, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I’d love to help)!
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Working at a startup is like riding a roller coaster, the highs are very high and the lows are very low, and the swings can happen multiple times a day! There are so many little things that excite me more than the average person. For example, the first time someone downloaded our app or bought something we had for sale. Even now, after hundreds of emails, I still get excited to see a new order come in—what’s the person’s name, where is he/she from—it’s like Christmas in July!
What is the biggest challenge you face?
We’re solving a big problem for businesses (tour companies, restaurants, retail stores) in small cruise towns like the town where I grew up. Because our tech is new and different, we have to do more than just build the best product, we have to educate our market. Getting an entire industry, one that has been used to doing things the same way for hundreds of years, to think differently, and persisting even when you feel like you are alone in your mission, is incredibly challenging.
What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
Well, for one, I get to live in Alaska, the most incredible place. The great thing about running a travel business is that I get to travel for work This fall I have trips planned to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and maybe others.
What is the best professional advice you’ve received?
Never ever, ever, ever give up. With startups, you only lose when you quit and it’s your race to win or lose—in reality startups are an endurance test of how long you as a human being can stay focused on a problem that may or may not have a solution, a puzzle that may take years to solve. It’s a very humbling feeling because society teaches us to value fame, fortune, and other outward forms of success. When you embark on something new and different, like a startup, most people won’t be able to place a value on what you’re doing and you won’t fit into a traditional societal role. If you can learn to live in a world of naysayers while continuing to work toward your goals without giving up, eventually, slowly, things start to come together.
Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
I wouldn’t change a thing! At Voyij, we aspire to be the leader in local travel, the go-to resource for vacation activities, shopping, and eating. As CEO, I’m excited to fulfill this promise; I’m sure many adventures await.
Presenting Voyij at a DukeGEN event in San Francisco
What do you like to do outside of work?
Growing up in Alaska, naturally, I enjoy nature and challenging myself in the outdoors. Most sunny days, I’m out running or hiking one trail or another. Earlier this year, I traveled with a Duke group to Patagonia where we did a 60km trek around the Southern tip of the Patagonia icefield. It’s during these moments where I feel invigorated at life’s possibilities.
Hiking Goat Lake near hometown Skagway, Alaska
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
If I were to go back in time and give my first year self one piece of advice, I would tell myself to carve out more time to goof off, just hang out, socialize, or even do things that might seem unproductive (gasp)! What I mean by this is that, understandably, MBA life is experienced at hyper speed: team work, coffee chats, club meetings, recruiting events (and in my case, starting a company). Each day we’re doing more and more but it feels like we’re connecting less and less.
At the end of the day, no one on their death bed says I wish I worked more. The big lasting aspect of business school is your network of classmates, partners, friends, and future colleagues. These people are your tribe, your people. Spend time with them
Women's Blue Cup basketball team
Who was your favorite professor?
There are so many great professors: John Graham, Bill Mayew, Grainne Fitzsimons. However, I had the pleasure of working closely with Ronnie Chatterji, who worked with Voyij on several key strategy initiatives. He’s an incredibly sharp professor who is also genuinely engaging and thoughtful.
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
Summiting Mount Cayambe (19,000 feet) in Ecuador with my Duke BOLD team was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life and one of the most rewarding.
Why do you support the Fuqua Annual Fund?
Duke has invested so much in my success, I feel a duty and an honor in giving annually. It’s not the amount that matters but making a habit each year of repeatedly contributing something, even something as small as $20.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
To me, Team Fuqua is when my C-LEAD member Luke Fangman (@fangmanl) takes time out of his busy week night to watch me pitch Voyij to an audience. Team Fuqua is when my classmate Mariela Berrocal (@marieaberrocal) designs important wireframe technology for our company during the fall semester into winter break. Team Fuqua is when my classmate Danny McCullough (@dcmccull) provides involved and ongoing marketing insight and builds Voyij’s digital strategy from scratch. In fact, I can stand here today living out my dream of building and growing a company in part because Fuqua, specifically Team Fuqua, supported my ambition. Thank you!
Section 6 hangout