Two mobile phones displaying a hotel app.

Exploring Opportunities to Engage Student Travelers Looking to Make Friends in New Places

An innovation session for an ambitious startup


WeHostels is a mobile app that was founded in 2011, with the vision to allow mobile users to find and book hostels worldwide from their mobile phones and to connect travelers staying in hostels. In June 2012, Diego Saez-Gil was selected as a High-Impact Entrepreneur by Endeavor, the non-profit organization that has pioneered entrepreneurship in emerging and growth markets around the world. Later that year, the app was named the “Most Innovative Travel Startup of the Year” at the PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit, and has been used by 200,000 students to book travel and stay at hostels worldwide. Adoption and fame were flattering, and showed that the opportunity was larger than the market WeHostels had initially defined. The startup needed room to grow, fast.

MBLM, a longtime Endeavor supporter, gathered its partners from its international network to spend a day thinking about how to utilize the brand to achieve WeHostels’ business ambitions and focus its efforts. The session yielded a number of innovative ideas for refocusing WeHostels’ value proposition in the mobile-based travel business, as well as activation strategies to increase awareness of the brand. One idea led to the creation of the video, “Where Do You Want to Go Before You Die?” in which WeHostels CEO, Diego Saez-Gil, and NYC pedestrians share their dream vacations.


A year after the innovation session, WeHostels merged with Student Universe to continue its quest to become “the largest community of young travelers in the world.” The WeHostels team’s responsibilities include improving the company’s mobile strategy with a focus on flights, as well as continuing to manage the app.

A smiling man in a black jacket and blue shirt showcasing a mobile app.
A mobile app with a group of people sitting around a whiteboard.
A mobile app displaying a pile of paper with a lot of writing on it.
A group of men using a mobile app in an art gallery.

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