Ball State alumna Lauren A. Koenig created Travel With Interesting People (TWIP) after graduating in 2004. TWIP is an online membership-based social marketplace that connects people based on their travel personalities, what they call "Travanality." Lauren A. Koenig // Photo Provided
Alumna, travel activist to launch company to pair travel partners
Ball State alumna Lauren A. Koenig wants everyone to be asking one question: “Did you go on a trip, or did you go on a TWIP?”
Koenig is a graduate of the class of 2004. She started TWIP (short for TravelWithInterestingPeople) in 2014, which pairs together travel partners based on a behavioral analysis Koenig created. Users learn what their Travanality is, and then find travel partners based on the assessment.
She was the opening keynote speaker at the Women Working in Technology conference Friday at the Alumni Center. Before the event, Koenig was excited to share her passion for business with other students.
“I really, really love entrepreneurship. I have finally found something I love. I love building, I love seeing the evolution of something happen, not only with my own company but with other entrepreneurs,” she said.
Koenig started her business after a winding career path that included living in France and modeling. On her 30th birthday she decided to do something different, and her efforts eventually resulted in TWIP.
“I had no idea if it would align, but my crazy, non-directional path ended up being the perfect path for what I’m doing today,” she said.
TWIP officially launches this summer, but the community already has 50,000 social media followers because of VIP memberships and early networking in New York City.
Heather Wilde was Koenig’s adviser at the Women’s Startup Lab Accelerator and eventually became the company’s CTO. She has enjoyed watching Koenig grow through the process of starting her own business.
“She is getting to be a stronger person every day, in her communication style, her demeanor; she is a pleasure to watch,” Wilde said. “She’s an amazing, strong alumni of Ball State. She is definitely somebody for students to look up to.”
Koenig is a travel advocate, which she said means if you don’t have a passport, she will find a way to get you one. She hopes her company will help provide travel experiences to those who get stopped by the three obstacles of destination, place and time.
“I’m always going to tell you yes, to spend the money and go see that place and do that thing. I believe in always having fulfilling experiences, always taking the time to travel,” she said.
Koenig was excited to be back in the area because of the fond memories she had during her time at Ball State.
“It’s not really about the piece of paper, it’s about the relationships you form,” she said of college. “My college friends are the types of relationships I’ll never have again — you live with someone for four years, and my college memories never fade.”
Karine Jannetta met Koenig at Ball State while she was studying as an exchange student from France. Jannetta attended the conference with Koenig to hear her speak. She is proud of her friend’s company and her drive.
“We’ve been all in with her and supported her because of the originality, and it makes sense, it’s not something that’s done. It brings people together,” she said of TWIP.
Beyond her own business, Koenig is excited to help mentor other entrepreneurs and inspire students to keep searching.
“I’m really excited to tell other women specifically how to build their own empire,” she said. “I want to give back and create, and I’m really thankful for my experience at Ball State.”
Learn more about TWIP at its website or by following it on social media @twiptrips. For a limited time, Ball State students can use the code BSU99 to get a discounted VIP membership to the travel community. The code is valid for 48 hours (until Friday morning).