When someone asks us how 2017 was for us, it’s often hard to condense it into one single word, phrase or sentence. First, we launched. That was by far the first milestone, but we have done so much, met so many amazing female travellers, connected with other dynamic founders, and of course added to the destinations we can share safety information about through the JOZU/WanderSafe network.
Want to know what we got up to? Settle in for a read…
We Launched, Connected and Had Some Fun as Women in Tech
CHTA – Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association – Bahamas
While we were in the development phase, we wanted to reach out to our travel stakeholder partners to understand what their present pain points were and what we could do to provide them something meaningful. Our CEO, Stephenie, attended the annual CHTA Marketplace event in Nassau in the Bahamas to get the word out about what we were building and how it would help hotel chains, destination managers and tourism boards, especially in the Caribbean where tourism is decentralised and disorganised. The feedback was overwhelming positive and the input from travel stakeholders was applied to the key features we built inside JOZU Analytics — our solution for tourism and travel enterprise customers.
In March, it was Austin Texas for South by SouthWest Conference (SXSW)
Go Live. Ship. Launch. Yep…in March 2017, we broke the seal and told a select group at BeConference in Austin on International Women’s Day that JOZU was prepared to make travel safer for women everywhere. That was just the beginning. On March 12, and because of its disruptive and innovative features, Jozu for Women was selected to be featured at the SXSW Startup Spotlight and at the SXSW Girls Lounge showcasing its robust AI and Data Analytics technologies designed to address the core needs of female travelers.
BEConference and SXSW were held in Austin and our in-house team of four including one of our angel investors, Simone Fox, could not have worked harder or had more fun. We gave out 2000 pairs of our signature JOZU hot pink sunglasses, made a heap of new friends and held our first competition for tech founders and travel influencers to join us in Jamaica for our first JOZU VIP Travel Summit, now renamed that the JOZU THRIVE Experience.
The private BETA launch was meant to be low key, but there was nothing low key about it. We ranked 46 of 1500 brands talked about on social media during SXSW weekend (and we were brand new!) according to Drumroll before the outstanding response of so many users crashed our site!
In May, we touched down in New Orleans for a little bit of Blues and Collision Conference which is the fastest growing tech conference in the world and the place to get noticed and connect with VC’s and technologists together to capitalize on their ideas. Whilst not quite as old as SXSW, Collision plays host to 20,000 attendees and 4500 companies. This year, as on the the startup selected for the ALPHA program, we manage to connect with of many dynamic women who are part of Women 2.0 and Women in Tech.
Using beacon technology, we invited attendees to play along by registering to their #JozuGetLucky link for a chance to win one of 100 lucky envelopes — each containing prizes The loot included everything from gift cards to swag and one grand prize — a trip for two to Negril, Jamaica.
Later in May, we held our first JOZU VIP SUMMIT on Seven Mile Beach in Negril Jamaica, now renamed the JOZU THRIVE EXPERIENCE. We hosted an intimate group of female thought leaders and opinion shapers from the travel space to discuss what women really needed to be able to travel with more freedom. We spent one on one time with the ladies Haley Woods and Mary Love from Facebook Community Girls Love Travel, and discussed how this organisation assists is members whilst on Facebook. We also had FUN!
Our days were filled with yoga and mindfulness activities, a social giveback day where we donated money and our artistic talents to the Negril Education and Empowerment Trust Fund (NEET), road horses in the surf at Reggae Horseback, themed dinners like the Dinner Barefoot en Blanc, Little Black Dress night hosted by Cecile Levee, and attended a reggae concert featuring Proteje. We had a naughty excursion and spent an evening at iconic adults only Hedonism Resort hosted by Kevin Levee and hospitable team in Guest Services.
In June, it was off to New York City for fifth annual FORBES WOMEN’S SUMMIT, where we were introduced to some of the East Coast’s power women and listened to Judge Judy explain tenacity and true grit as one of the keynote presenter. I especially enjoyed hearing how Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood and Janet Mock (Activist) along with Kerry Washington talked about how movements are created across borders, throughout sectors of business and transcends generations. JOZU’s highlight though was meeting one extraordinary woman, Anishiya Taneja, who is now on our Advisory Board.
Next, we flew to San Francisco for GIRLS in TECH Catalyst Conference held at Bespoke. The lineup of speakers was sensational from Mercedes De Luca from Basecamp, to Debra Jensen (CIO) of Charlotte Russe and the serial entrepreneur Fran Maier who is Founder and Chairman of the Board TRUSTEe and the co-founder of Match.com.
In September, we were selected into participate in the Womens Startup Lab Accelerator program (Batch 12) at Hito House located in Menlo Park, California in a two week immersive program. We were one of 10 women founders who came together from all over the world to work on our ideas, perfect our unique pitches, and connect with some of the Silicon Valleys elite thought leaders, VCs and mentors. Among those, Bill Reichert from Garage Ventures spoke to us about how to work with venture capitalists, author Chris Yeh on entrepreneurship and disruption, and Phil Libin (the former CEO and Founder of Evernote) shared his secrets and model for scaling up. Neil Sequeria and his colleagues from Defy.vc met with us and talked about ethical venture capital and how companies like JOZU for WOMEN will disrupt the travel review space.
To get us out of Hito House, we attended a Forbes Women’s event — a book signing — and spent a few hours fabulous hours at the Airbnb Headquarters with start up veteran Mindy Taylor, Head of Community Operations at Airbnb.
From San Francisco we went straight to Cannes France for TFWA (Tax Free World Association) 70th Year tradeshow and event, where we were flown in exclusively to make a presentation for travel amenity supplier Formia. To a room of brand owners from Salvatore Feragammo to Emirates, we spoke about how real time travel analytics can help them create stronger customer dialogue and uncover new revenue opportunities. The full presentation can be view here.
From Cannes we headed straight to Barbados to take part in the The Destination Experience conference where we participated in a discussion about startup funding and how ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and token sales provide much needed access to growth funding that female startups struggle otherwise to get. The event was run in a TED-esque format wherein speakers, thought leaders and game changers shared their ideas for change, economic growth, and improved social welfare for citizens of the Caribbean.
In November we exhibited in Lisbon at WebSummit as part of the ALPHA startup program. WebSummit is now often referred to as ‘the best technology conference on the planet’ and brings together more than 50,000 people from startup rockstars to Fortune 500 companies and venture capitalists. To connect with other women in tech we held Secret Women’s Business pop up meetups that were highly anticipated and of great success for networking and building our brand with female travelers from the tech space. Over 1000 pairs of our JOZU Sunglasses were given away, and we appreciated all the women who thanked us for creating the JOZU community and shared their travel tales with us.
In December, we attended our last event, TechBeach Retreat, in Montego Bay Jamaica. An intimate gathering of thought leaders, like Jack Dorsey of Twitter, startup founders and cryptocurrency experts like James Ross this three day event brought some great ideas and collaboration between its attendees. We were on a panel discussion startup funding challenges for female founders hosted by social influencer Adryenn Ashley.
We organized the trip of a lifetime
The Jozu Thrive Experience is the ultimate gateway where you are guaranteed to grow, expand your network, tap into your passion and have some fun.
Because of the overwhelming success and the positive feedback from our first JOZU Experience from our Crew, we’ve decided to build on last year’s program and although we thought not possible, make it even better.
On May 1-6, 2018 we are hosting our first annual Jozu Thrive Experience that celebrates diversity in women, set on the idyllic Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica. Our six-day empowering event includes over 20 masterclasses and workshops. It’s all Inclusive and held the woman-owned Sandy Haven Resort. Register now (space is limited).
We love sharing tips and travel stories
Our original content displayed in our exclusive Jozu Magazine and on our blog is a vital part of our strategy to help women travel safely. Thanks to exclusive interviews and in-depth features, we aim to be known as a high-quality source of information and inspiration.
Raw passion… it is what keeps us going, it drives us and feeds our soul. In our three editions of Jozu Magazine, we collate stories that embody just that. We are so lucky to have been able to get interview from some amazing women around the world, collecting incredible stories from interesting young women fuelled by their passion to see as much of the world as possible. With no set agenda or itinerary. We invite you to discover those women, hoping to inspire you rise further, travel better and book with confidence.
We made waves
We are proud to have been featured in over ten media publishers and amongst them, Forbes for Women@Forbes “Reinventing The Travel Experience To Meet The Needs Of Women” and a Q&A with our co-founder Stephenie Rodriguez in Amadeus “Travel just got better for women”.
Find out more about our press mentions.
Global Citizen, Latina, visited 52 countries and love to make new friends and learn new languages