Let’s dive into Rilee Buttars’ startup rollercoaster experience: launching a travel startup during COVID, navigating the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, and learning from mistakes along the way. Rilee, the brains behind dónde, always knew she wanted to be rocking a power suit and calling the shots (and she’s done that—just take a look at her recent Utah Business Women of the Year feature).

She felt like she wanted more from her small town life in Idaho Falls, Idaho and looked for ways to make it big: singing, cross country (both of which she was absolutely amazing at). But life had other plans.

During college, she had opportunities to travel abroad and experience what she describes as “busting open the door of that box [growing up in Idaho Falls] and thinking ‘Oh my goodness, the world is magnificent and I have not seen an inch of it.’”

She’s a powerful combo of a disciplined yet rebellious entrepreneur (sound familiar, founders?), and she’s here to tell you that even when you’re giving it your all, things might not pan out as expected. It’s all about the ride, not just the destination, right?

Listen to the full podcast episode here

dónde’s Origin Story

Now, here’s where dónde comes into play. Rilee wanted to create something that would let people dive into the ‘study abroad’ feeling post-college. People loved the idea, but cash and time off were major roadblocks. That’s when dónde evolved— Rilee pivoted to making dónde an actual HR benefit for companies to invest in.

The research backs her up: employees are happier and more productive when they have the opportunity to travel. Dónde’s solution? Build a platform that makes planning and budgeting for trips easier on both employees and employers.

Dónde isn’t just another travel booking site— it’s an experience-focused platform that helps companies invest in their employees’ personal growth while boosting productivity.

For the First-Time Founders

Rilee’s chat is a goldmine for you first-time founders out there. She’s been through the wringer—adapting, pivoting, and realizing that your first idea might just be the stepping stone to something even bigger. Her advice? Jump on opportunities and don’t get too hung up on your initial plan.

While dónde’s main focus over the last few years has been marketing the product to businesses as a HR benefit, things haven’t always gone as planned. We all know the corporate world is in complete upheaval with major layoffs, salary cuts, and hiring freezes affecting many companies. So what happens to a business like dónde?

Rilee’s answer is simple: adapt. dónde shifted its focus from businesses to the general public during the last few years, offering a one-stop marketplace to help travelers plan better trips and save money at the same time.

In the end, Rilee and Earl remind founders that the “cheering crowds are far and few between” and the true drive to keep going comes from your ambition and belief in your product or service. People who start businesses are competitive; they like to win. But your experience as a founder won’t always be medal after medal. Instead, you’ll encounter obstacles, roadblocks, and sometimes even failures.

But the important thing is to keep trying, learning from your mistakes and adapting as needed. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; use them as stepping stones towards growth and success. As Rilee’s story shows, sometimes the biggest disappointments can lead to the greatest opportunities.

Nexus IT: Your Tech Partner

Just like Rilee learned to roll with the punches, you’ve got to do the same with your business tech. That’s where Nexus IT comes in. As a full-service tech partner, we’re here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology and find solutions that work for your business.

From managed IT services to cloud computing and cybersecurity, we’ve got you covered. Don’t let tech challenges hold your business back; contact us today to learn more about how Nexus IT can support you on your entrepreneurial journey.