Creative Lives — Trippin co-founder, Kesang Ball talks growing a brand and the importance of collaboration

Posted 12 February 2020 Interview by Siham Ali

We caught up with Kesang Ball, one of Trippin's co-founders to learn more about the content platform that's redefining the travel industry. Trippin launched back in 2017 and is driven by the desire to help people travel with more purpose. This sentiment has in itself travelled far and wide. Today, the brand’s community of creatives and contributors help to provide authentic recommendations for their own cities and towns.

Having graduated from computer science at UCL, Kesang reflects on the early stages of her venture – particularly having to juggle bartending late at night with getting up early to pitch to investors. The life of an entrepreneur is far from easy and you seldom get very far without taking risks and bouncing back from being told ‘no’ says Kesang. We spoke to her about her journey and how she plans on being at the forefront of a new era for travel.

Kesang Ball

Job Title

Co-Founder and Head of Content and Community, Trippin (2017-present)

Based

London

Selected Clients

Converse, Nike, adidas, Moncler, Farfetch, Hoxton, Ace & Tate

Education

BSc Information Management for Business, UCL (2011-2014)

Website
Social Media

Kesang

Day-to-Day

How would you describe what you do?
As a co-founder you find yourself dipping into a lot of different roles but as Trippin has grown – I’m usually found working on our overarching strategy with my co-founder, Sam. I also oversee editorial content and community growth.

What does a typical working day look like and where does it happen?
I’m a morning person so I like to get up quite early – but we try to have a pretty relaxed office culture so the team usually comes in around 9am or 10am. I’ll work from home once a week which allows me to focus on strategy and projects which require high level thinking without distractions. Leadership management is a core focus and makes up a lot of my responsibilities – but I’m aware I need to block out time to action my own tasks too and this way helps me best.

In terms of time management, my time is split between managing our content and community teams, and top-level strategy. We also work on individual projects throughout the year. We’re currently doing one with my former university, University College London [UCL] around the topic of purposeful travel which is something I’m very excited about.

‘An Hour With Rema’
, for Trippin creative direction by Kesang

‘An Hour With Rema’ for Trippin
, creative direction by Kesang

‘An Hour With Rema’ for Trippin
, creative direction by Kesang

arrow
arrow

How collaborative is your role?
It’s collaborative on every level. To me, collaboration is one of the best ways to innovate and gain new insight on everything from creative content to problem solving. At Trippin our company culture pushes collaboration and ownership. We collaborate with our global community of thought-leaders to create and document real people, real moments and raw experiences. It’s through these experiences where I learn the most too.

I left university and co-founded another startup before starting Trippin, so I’ve had to teach myself the skills which other people would have gained from industry experience or working in larger organisations. Because of that I’m always trying to ask for advice, have amazing mentors, and create a company culture where we are constantly growing internally and externally. Collaboration to me is the foundation of all of that.

How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea for Trippin?
Trippin was born out of a frustration with the landscape of the travel industry. My co-founders and I couldn’t find authentic recommendations which represented our interests and identities. Travel is such a transformative experience, it opens our minds to other people’s realities and in turn has the power to reform your own. It was this transformative experience that inspired us to fill that gap in the market and help celebrate a different type of traveller who wasn’t being represented.

Trippin’s journey has many chapters and we are only at the beginning stages. It’ll look different in the future but our values and mission of helping people travel with more purpose will always remain the same. Our services will evolve but the core of who we are will never change.

“Trippin was born out of a frustration with the landscape of the travel industry."

What were the first steps to growing your own business once the idea was in place?
Testing! We actually grew from a Facebook group which we created with friends to share authentic tips about where to travel. This facebook group grew and to this day it’s still extremely active. It also served as our petri dish in our most embryonic stages – allowing us to test out different hypotheses of ours to understand our users and customer base.

How do you enlist guest curators and who do you work with on a daily basis to keep everything fresh and new?
We collaborate with our global community of thought leaders around the world to create and document travel. It’s important for us to facilitate a platform for this to live on and allow for the most authentic cultural exchange to happen. We try and do this through a number of ways, one of them being to only work with locals. From journalists to photographers this ensures we have authentic narratives running through all of the content you find on Trippin.

Trippin on Tour with Jorja Smith, produced by Kesang

“I think people have always believed in our magic and given us a chance. We had no prior experience or achievements in the startup world for them to trust anything but their gut.”

How could someone contribute to Trippin?
Our community is open and inclusive – anyone can join and be part of it. We get a lot of contributions, sometimes they are perfect and other times they might not fit in with our goals or our content strategy for that quarter – it all depends.

What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
Most enjoyable has to be building our team and company culture – Trippin is a family and that’s so important to me and my co-founders. We’re privileged to now be in a position to have impact beyond commerce and be able travel to meet our community across the world to create content with them.

The least enjoyable thing was that we were in a very small office with no windows until recently.

Ghana Captured by Ebeneza Blanche for Trippin

What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
A highlight for me was a community project we launched in London with Nike, where we brought together nine collectives within the Trippin community who were commissioned to create immersive experiences around the theme of heritage. From hijab customisations to four incredible immersive film experiences, the event played with technology and innovation to create a space where attendees could learn about heritage through the lens of our community. It was really important for us to make the event accessible for everyone so half of the day was tailored towards youth groups as well as the public.

What skills would you say are essential to your job?
Being passionate, having a strong vision and always being able to reflect and analyse yourself. Communicative skills are incredibly important too!

What inspires your work?
It’s always important to keep the creative part of my brain alive – whether that’s painting, drawing, cooking, reading or simply going to exhibitions. I guess it boils down to craving information from as many sources and mediums as possible. I’ve recently fallen back in love with podcasts! At Trippin we have a thing called Inspo Wednesdays where one team member presents to the rest of the company – it could be a film, exhibition, talk or bringing a friend in to talk about their project.

Nike: Heritage of Tomorrow x Trippin

Nike: Heritage of Tomorrow x Trippin

Nike: Heritage of Tomorrow x Trippin

arrow
arrow

How I Got Here

Do you feel you need a formal education for what you do?
I feel like my degree in Information Management for Business provided me with a high level of critical thinking. Do I think you can do what I do without higher education? Ultimately yes. I think industry experience can be one of the best ways to learn – something which my co-founder Sam and I always take learnings from. I also think you can assemble a team for the skills you don’t have. Trippin has a very diverse team for exactly that reason, and it gives us our winning edge.

After graduating what were your initial steps?
I started my first startup during my third year at university. I think that's the best place to try out ideas as you have the safety net of your university course and student loan if your ideas go wrong. This period was pivotal, as I gained the right knowledge needed to launch Trippin.

Would you say you ever experienced a lucky break?
I think people have always believed in our magic and given us a chance. We had no prior experience or achievements in the startup world for them to trust anything but their gut. We’ve always had passion and hard work ethic and that’s something which I’m really grateful people gravitated towards. From our growing community, to investors and first clients – they trusted and believed in who we were and why we were doing it.

“I was bartending then getting up early in the morning to go pitch to investors.”

What’s been your biggest challenge along the way?
I would say raising our first round of investment. It took forever and it was incredibly draining – being told ‘no’ again and again can be hard, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into your product. I’d definitely say it’s given our core team a lot of resilience which allowed us to push through the hard times.

Any particular challenges associated with being a founder?
Ultimately, remembering you’re playing the long game. The easy path always leads to a crowded place and you have to make sacrifices and overcome huge hurdles to stick to your values. But at the end of the day, that’s what separates you from the masses.

What have been your biggest learnings with making money?
For the first year while we were raising our seed round of investment we didn’t pay ourselves. I was bartending then getting up early in the morning to go pitch to investors. It was a crazy time but it all eventually paid off.

Words of Wisdom

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the same line of work?
Mentors are amazing sound boards for ideas and problems. I always recommend having two, and making sure one isn’t in the same industry as you. I think you can take great learnings from other industries and innovate them into your own.

Posted 12 February 2020 Interview by Siham Ali
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Business
Mentions: Kesang Ball, Trippin, Nike

Related Posts

` `
Sign Up Sign In

Lecture in Progress relies on the support of partners and plus members to provide the ongoing insight and advice to the next generation. To help support sign up now or find out more.

scroll to top arrow-up
share

Become a Member

Lecture in Progress is now free to access. Become a member and receive a number of additional benefits.

Member

Free

Alongside a wealth of behind-the-scenes advice and insight into the creative industries, join now to get exclusive access to offers and promotions. You’ll benefit from:

  • Member offers and promotions
  • Two weekly newsletters
  • Bookmark content
  • Shape the future of Lecture in Progress

Member Plus

£35/per year

By becoming a member plus, you’ll be helping us in our aim to support the next generation of creatives. You’ll also get the chance to shape the future of Lecture in Progress, and benefit from:

  • Member Plus offers and promotions
  • The biannual Lecture in Progress newspaper, delivered to your door
  • Insight reports into creative education and industry
  • Two weekly newsletters
  • Bookmark content
  • Shape the future of Lecture in Progress

Lecture in Progress is made possible with the support of the following brand partners