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Contxto – Younger generations are finally starting to recognize the inherent value of experiences over material things. Facilitating this is Rutopía, a Mexican eco-tourism marketplace that recently received the 2019 Hult Prize.
Last week, the startup won the social entrepreneurship award amounting to US$1 million. Conceptualized and developed by Tec de Monterrey students, the capital will be used to scale operations as well as reach farther destinations.
Rutopía is a marketplace where adventure-seekers can explore and find interesting travel destinations. However, these are not the typical shopping mall or theme park destinations.
Under the slogan, “travel differently, connect with communities,” most of the experiences involve activities and interactions with local indigenous people in rural areas. Instead of traveling in a group full of Hawaiian shirt-wearing tourists, though, you get a personal, handcrafted experience.
Not only does this give “alternative” travelers a new different experience but also provides rural populations with different income streams. With it, travelers harmoniously coexist with their environment without harming or altering it.
For the startup, it envisions participants to holistically engage with foreign cultures.
“The best way to get to know a culture is to connect with its people and the nature of its environment,” says Rutopía’s website.
Initially, the project only offered destinations within Mexican territories. Nevertheless, it now seems like services are available in Colombia, too.
“We feel very good, very excited,” said Co-founder Emiliano Iturriaga. “Right now, we’re four people presenting this project, but what really matters are the people we work within communities in Oaxaca, Campeche, Chiapas, as well as Quintana Roo. It is they to whom we thank everything.”
Moving forward, technological innovations will be Rutopía’s priority.
“The next steps are to develop the technology that makes possible communicating all the travelers with the communities, and little by little, start growing all across Mexico and Latin America,” said Diego Espinoza, also Rutopía’s co-founder.
More programming will also follow suit. Common activities assisting in the harvest, cooking, in addition to plenty of outdoor sports. These include hiking, mountain biking, swimming, as well as zip-lining.
Hult Prize, the foundation that supports new ventures out of universities, helps those with special care to social and environmental issues.
Every year, there’s a new challenge launched by the United Nations (UN) and former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Finals take place at the UN world headquarters in New York.
The macro program featured over 20 thousand projects from all around the world. Nevertheless, during this final contest, Rutopía competed with other five startups.