OwnTrail Helps People Navigate Life Through Social Connections
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s Seattle round-up here.
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Life hardly ever moves linearly. There are always twists and turns that derail us from our goals, but with perseverance and help from others, these goals are still attainable.
Author and later tech founder Rebekah Bastian wrote a choose-your-own-journey book based on that philosophy titled Blaze Your Own Trail, which helps women navigate life by accepting that there is no single path to follow. She later co-founded OwnTrail along with Kt McBratney to further help people.
“OwnTrail started as a way to share and see the real journeys that people take through life, in a way that is much more authentic and holistic than what a resume would show,” Bastian told Built In. “We’ve grown it into a vibrant tech platform and community where people help each other achieve their next milestones in life and work.”
OwnTrail is a social platform where users can share milestones and create a map of their life journey called trails. The platform also enables users to connect with other like-minded people. Through tools like Help Beacons, users on OwnTrail are also able to get help from their connections on tasks or life goals they might be stumped on. And by viewing other’s trails, users can take inspiration and try new experiences they might have not thought of before.
Besides providing support for others, Bastian said OwnTrail’s community has been fundamental for the development of the platform. Through feedback and idea sessions, OwnTrail members have helped the company in product development and have been key to bringing more people to the platform.
“On a personal level, a strong community is instrumental in both achieving milestones and working through internal transformations. The solidarity and help that community members provide to each other can play a major role in each of their trails,” Bastian said.
OwnTrail was launched in 2020 but the company recently rolled out its membership plan and expanded to be inclusive of all genders. It is free to create an account on OwnTrail, but its membership allows users access to more features like live events, weekly reflections and book club discussions.
The company was co-founded by a woman and a non-binary entrepreneur. This, according to Bastian, meant raising capital for OwnTrail wasn’t as easy as it is for other startups. Historically, venture capital (VC) firms invest more money in startups founded by white men as compared to those founded by women or members of underrepresented communities. Despite the inequity, OwnTrail has been able to secure $1.2 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.
“We don’t fit a lot of the pattern-matching that exists in the VC ecosystem, plus our insistence on building a cap table that reflects the diversity of our community has definitely made it more difficult to find the right investors,” Bastian said. “But we didn’t budge on our values and kept sharing our big vision for what OwnTrail will become, and I’m so happy with the investors that we have in our corner now.”
Going forward, OwnTrail will continue to develop tools for its platform and help users reach their milestones. The startup also plans to further grow its community.