Visit.org is a digital platform for social impact travel experiences founded by Michal Alter ‘13. Visit.org connects travelers with community-based organizations in 65 countries to provide unique cultural activities and experiences.
Location: New York City and 65 Countries Across the Globe
Why We Love Visit.org
Visit.org not only facilitates connections between travelers across the globe and local organizations, but it does so at no cost to the non-profits. In fact, not only is Visit.org a sustainable business on its own, but it is providing ongoing income to local nonprofits via the fees it charges to tourists in exchange for an authentic cultural experience. Double bonus -- travelers get an amazing experience and they get to contribute to the local economy directly. In turn, these experiences foster cultural understanding and break down walls between locals and visitors.
Michal’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Michal, who is from Tel Aviv, has a background in both technology and development. Her interest in the connection between tech and development began when she worked as Director of Refugee Affairs for the City of Tel Aviv where she served some 20,000 refugees from Darfur, South Sudan and Eritrea. She founded Visit.org in 2015 and says that the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is remaining confident throughout the ups and downs of being in a startup. What she finds most rewarding is the need to be creative and innovative every single day as she fields new challenges. Michal says anyone can be a successful entrepreneur as long as they are passionate about the impact they want to have.
Running a High Impact Business
Visit.org measures its success in three ways: 1) by the income generated by their affiliate nonprofits; 2) their ability to provide “eye opening” experiences to foster cultural understanding and educate the public about societal needs; 3) economic development generated in communities because of increased tourism.
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
For young entrepreneurs who already have an idea, I urge you to spend time really getting to know the space you are interested in AND developing your network. This will best position you when you are ready to launch. Ideally, start something while at SIPA as that will help you with both need finding and research and network development. Really take advantage of the access you have to New York and your professors and classmates. This is going to be the only time in your life when you can take two years to focus on your exposure to the world. My advice is to do an internship every semester and learn as much as you can.
Favorite SIPA memory
I loved that SIPA was full of smart and passionate people from all around the world who were interested in investing their time and talent into important causes. I also loved saying “hello” to everyone who passed me by and getting to know people from places around the world.
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