Vanessa Karel Greether
Vanessa Karel, the founder of Greether. (Credit: Courtesy of Greether)

Vanessa Karel loves exploring the world – sometimes on her own. She especially appreciates the “travel magic” that can occur when you bond with, and maybe even form lifelong connections with, people in a new place. But Karel also knows that not all women feel safe traveling alone, and that said “travel magic” can’t always happen when you’re worried. She decided to start a company that could provide women travelers flying solo with the type of foreign experience she herself relishes. Enter Greether, her travel service that matches international female travelers with local female guides. Whether women are looking for someone trustworthy to introduce them to a new city during a long layover, or a knowledgeable guide to show them around a remote locale for a few days, Greether has someone verified in over 90 countries and 400 cities worldwide to “open the corners that seem scary for us to be in.” 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

Greether is a travel service helping women, specifically, explore the globe with less risks by connecting them to our verified “Greeters.” Our services are customizable, and every traveler chooses where the Greeter meets them, for how long, and what they want to do or see! Being stranded at an airport during an annoying layover for hours is no fun – what if you could have a quick and safe tour of a nearby town with a friendly local female guide instead?

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

When women share how much they love our company and our mission, it makes me feel like the most successful person in the world. I’m proud that we are creating a friendlier and safer travel environment for women.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Balancing work life and personal life is very difficult when you are building a business – even more so when it’s a startup that went global very quickly. I put a lot of effort into making time to have fun with my partner, my cat and my friends. It refreshes me to be outdoors and to try new things.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Discipline will take you farther than being fueled solely by your passion. If you aren’t disciplined, it will be difficult to get work done on the hard days when you don’t feel like the needle is moving.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I look back at all that we have accomplished, and remember why I started – as well as why I should keep pushing.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

“Tu M’as Promis” by Monsieur Perine.

Who is your most important role model?

All the female founders I meet. Their tenacity and passion is incomparable. ◼

Instagram: @greether

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