The concept of linking travelers with entrepreneurs originated a number of years ago when co-founders Jason Seagle (CEO) and Scott Wilhelm (COO) worked together in Peace Corps El Salvador.
Based in rural northern Morazán, El Salvador, near the border with Honduras, Jason met a lot of local entrepreneurs with unique skills and great work ethic, but few marketing opportunities. Jason turned to many of these farmers and shopkeepers to lead technical workshops when new Peace Corps trainee groups would visit the village where he was based. Trainings addressed hillside farming techniques, fruit tree production, beekeeping, etc. The quality of their trainings was always high and these entrepreneurial folks took pride in sharing their knowledge. Since Peace Corps, he has continued working in the humanitarian sector specializing in agricultural and small business development. He's fascinated by the strategies that marginalized households employ to cope with access to limited resources, and developing locally appropriate programs to support them.
Scott’s take was a bit different, and literally started with a bang. After a volcanic eruption displaced Scott and his host community, he was forced to reside in a hostel a few miles from the village. During his time there, Scott met countless travelers from all over the world and oftentimes provided valuable insight into local things to do. When travelers found out that Scott spent his days back in his village their eyes lit up and they'd ask if they could go spend a day in the community, many said it was an experience they would pay for. After Peace Corps, Scott worked with the U.S. Migrant Education Program in Illinois. He is currently based in Kigali, Rwanda. He also owns a small herd of sheep in Kenya.
Vayando’s board of advisors consists of experts in the fields of business, technology, marketing, and international development.
Bryan Dwyer (Advisor) is the Development Outreach Communications Specialist at USAID. Before that he worked Peace Corps in various programing and training capacities for over 10 years in El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, and Rwanda. He is based in Malawi and sees Vayando as an excellent opportunity for Peace Corps and other humanitarian agencies to increase their impact in communities around the world.
Marc Gorlin is a serial entrepreneur who has founded, built and sold multiple technology companies. Marc is Chairman and Co-founder of Kabbage, Inc., a financial services company in Atlanta that provides funding to small businesses. His first startup, Pretty Good Privacy, was formed in 1996 to commercialize one of the most prevalent security standards used on the Internet, and recently popularized in the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Judy Bowers is a senior level Project and Program Manager with 16 years of experience in the creation and implementation of change management activities, custom software solutions and development of employee programs. She is currently a Product Implementation Manager at Manheim, is active with several charitable organizations, and is a Board of Director with Girls Inc., Atlanta.
Joe Koufman recently left his role as Senior VP of Business Development and Marketing at Engauge to focus on his own start-up, AgencySparks, which helps independent marketing agencies grow.