Interview with Chandra Jacobs '04

Posted April 4, 2013. Interview by Howie Rhee

Tell us about yourself

My name is Chandra Jacobs and I am the Founder of tripchi, a mobile app that helps you make the most of your time at the airport

I have a background in tech, innovation and product development, especially as applied to web and mobile apps in the entrepreneurship arena, but have recently moved more into marketing and strategy post-MBA, as well entrepreneurship. As a product marketer, I have gravitated toward digital marketing as well as analytics/data mining, which fits well with my techie geek bent.

I love creative and challenging projects in the emerging technology product space, and have a passion for travel, so I thought why not combine these interests? This led me to launch my latest startup, tripchi.

Prior to the tripchi startup, Chandra completed her MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management with a focus in Global Entrepreneurship and Technology Strategy —especially related to software (web and mobile apps). She also has six years work experience prior to Thunderbird in product development and project management of large IT systems (software and hardware), specializing in signal processing software, for the Federal Government. Additionally she has worked at Deloitte Consulting in Technology Strategy Consulting and at Honeywell Aerospace in Marketing and Strategy. Chandra also holds an MS in Telecommunications from George Mason University, where she specialized in wireless communications, and a BS from Duke University in Physics and Economics.

Her most recent travels took her to Egypt and India (twice)—the former as part of a telecommunications consulting assignment at Mobinil in the months leading up to the Egyptian revolution, and the latter as an MBA exchange student at the Indian School of Business (in Hyderabad) and also, on a separate trip, to shadow a growing Bollywood startup, TalentTube, and gain marketing and startup experience. 

You can learn more about me at:


Tell us about your time at Duke, what were you involved in?

When I was at Duke (graduated in 2004), I was a nerd. I double majored in Physics and Econ, with a minor in German. But, I still managed to have fun. A lot of my free time was spent playing and watching basketball, and playing percussion in the wind symphony and marching band. I also was a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. 

My favorite two memories from Duke are walks in the Gardens and playing Frisbee in East Campus quads (I was in Pegram).


What's your major/program and when will you be graduating?  Tell us something about your educational experience at Duke.

Physics and Econ BS, with a German minor. Loved every second.


Tell us about your idea.

tripchi is a mobile app that helps you make the most of your time in the airport. It serves up recommendations of things to do in the airport based on your personality, interests and flight info, and offers exclusive deals on food, drink, and shopping opportunities, the ability to connect with other travelers, as well as detailed content to explore the airport. We provide airport vendors with a technology platform to conduct targeted advertising campaigns including contextually-driven deals and offers. You can also learn more through our video:

Learn more through our video and visit us at


How did you come up with your idea?  When did you come up with it?

Having been a business traveler for 8+ years, I know what it’s like to be living out of airports—you feel like you’re wasting all sorts of time that you don’t have, while simultaneously being bored. What if there was a way to help you spend your time in the airport in ways you actually enjoyed? Well, that’s what tripchi is for.


How did you meet your team members?

I met my lead investor and CTO, Vincent Serpico, in Phoenix when I was going to the Thunderbird School of Global Management for my MBA. He rolled in Hipolyto Obeso, Kristan Simmonds, and Oriol Mendevil to work on the design and development implementation, when I focused on product management and strategy.  Then, I moved to Boston post-graduation to continue building the company, and picked up my co-founder Eric Sullivan, a veteran entrepreneur and hustler with several successful exits. Recently, Chris Portscheller has joined us to focus on design and front-end development, and Jeff O'Leary has joined us to work on back-end development, architecture, and mobile implementation. We also have several folks helping out with social media and content marketing, as well as launching an Indiegogo campaign. Our team is incredibly talented and dedicated, and I wouldn't be anywhere without them!


How has the Duke Start-Up Challenge been helpful to you?

It has given me valuable feedback from mentors and judges, as well as positive PR and interaction with a large portion of the Duke community that I would have otherwise never have connected with. So far, I have made several valuable connections that will hopefully blossom into mentor/mentee relationships and lead to bigger and better things!


The Duke Start-Up Challenge provides a lot of feedback from over 100 judges.  Can you talk about that experience of reviewing the feedback?

I used the feedback from Round 1 to finish writing the business plan for Round 2, and also got in touch with each judge who left their email in the review process to follow-up for additional feedback and insight. Not only have I connected with some very interesting Dukies, but they also had great ideas which I want to roll into our product development path.


Did you connect with any judges for advice, and if so, who were they and was it helpful?  

Yes. So far, Tanuj Khuruna and John Groeschel, and hopefully more to come!


What advice do you have for Duke alumni / faculty / staff entrepreneurs that are thinking of starting a company?

Do it! Even if it doesn't pan out, you are making an investment in yourself and your future and will immediately become 500X more marketable and valuable, and confident!


Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you DukeGEN. That says it all :)



Want more? Watch the videos and read the other interviews for all of the Round 3 teams in the Duke Start-Up Challenge

And join us for the Grand Finale with David Cummings ’02 for the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at 7:30pm ET at Fuqua’s Geneen Auditorium. RSVP on Facebook

Not able to attend in person?  Watch the livestream on Duke’s YouTube channel

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