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An accidental entrepreneur

WL native Katelyn O'Shaughnessy named to Forbes '30 under 30' list

Back in 2013, when Katelyn O’Shaughnessy asked her grandmother for a $5,000 loan, she couldn’t have imagined finding herself on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list just three years later.

The former West Linn resident was working as a travel agent in Los Angeles at the time and had an idea for a new mobile app that she believed would modernize a fledgling industry. But that was all it was, an idea, at least until she could garner some funding and link up with web developers to help create the app.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Katelyn OShaughnessy's mobile app, Tripscope, connects users with live travel agents on the go.

So it started with the loan request — which was granted — and has since grown into “Tripscope,” a tool that acts as a “travel agent in your pocket.” The app connects travelers with a live travel agent, then compiles an itinerary that’s available on the go throughout the trip. A “mobile concierge” is also available through the app, allowing for last-minute consultations during the trip itself.

“I saw that the (travel agent) industry was dying,” O’Shaughnessy said. “But there was still a need for the human element and personalization — people were overwhelmed with all of their different options. We could maintain the human element, but put it in an app.

“I wanted to create a product to meet demand for the next generation of travelers while keeping travel agents alive.”

O’Shaughnessy, a 2005 graduate of West Linn High School, said being named to the Forbes list in January was a distinct honor.

“I’m extremely honored; the Consumer Tech (section of the list) is huge,” she said. “It’s had (Facebook creator) Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Snapchat ... I’m really, really happy about it.”

It was particularly validating given that O’Shaughnessy does not come from a technical background. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in broadcast journalism and communications, and thus had little experience with app development before this venture.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The journey started with a $5,000 loan from OShaughnessy's grandmother, Rosemary Fosse.

After obtaining the loan from her grandmother, O’Shaughnessy attended a “hackathon” in Los Angeles in the hopes of finding engineers.

“For 48 hours, we didn’t sleep, we were just coding and working on it,” she said. “And we emerged with TripScope.”

Since then, O’Shaughnessy has raised $1.2 million in venture capital while also obtaining backing from Erik Blachford, the former CEO of Expedia. “Right now, we’re partnering with some publications — bridal and travel magazines,” O’Shaughnessy said. “There will be bar codes where if you read about a place, it will connect you with a travel agent who specializes there.”

Amidst it all, O’Shaughnessy still calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur.”

“But that’s what an entrepreneur does: If you see a problem and know the solution, you might have the next great idea,” she said. “It’s just a matter of finding people to help you fulfill that dream.”

And she has that $5,000 loan from her grandmother, Rosemary Fosse, to thank for it all. “She’s always been my biggest backer, and this is all so exciting to her,” O’Shaughnessy said. “She’s always on the phone, learning about the process.”

To learn more, visit tripscopeapp.com.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..