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Perhaps you’d like to visit an out of the way restaurant or smoke a unique cigar. Perhaps you’d like to take part in native dances or infiltrate a foreign government at a classy cocktail party. ViaHero, a new app that lets locals help plan your trips abroad, can help.

The founders, Greg Buzulencia and Ben Preston, have raised $210,000 from investors and Pittsburgh’s AlphaLab accelerator and they have 205 paying customers. Their customers have requested cool trip recommendations from multiple spots around the world so far and the company offers “a more comprehensive experience through end-to-end trip planning and a flexible, yet robust trip guide.”

“We give you everything you need for your trip, not bits and pieces you need to patch together with your own research,” said Buzulencia.

“Greg was planning a trip to Mongolia in 2015, spending countless hours trying to connect with locals to help him plan the off-the-beaten-path experiences he was looking for. He eventually found a local, a man named Canat, who helped him arrange everything he needed for his trip. He was an invaluable resource for planning out the trip, providing personal recommendations, arranging transportation, lodging and answering all of Greg’s questions,” he said. After returning, his co-founder realized that real recommendations from real people is the answer to the problem of finding cool stuff to see and do abroad.

The service finds a local to help you with your planning and can organize cool things to see and do, including offering opportunities to go horseback riding and infiltrate the secret police. Their first customer, Hadassa, used the service to plan a classic convertible ride in downtown Cuba, a lifelong dream. Just think about what sort of fun or rear-door embassy access you could get up to with a local’s help!



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