Local Burien entrepreneur & Amazon veteran has a lust for travel, wandering


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In 2015, Jana Kleitsch, a Burien native, found herself planning a last minute road trip for her family to the Washington coast.

The trip came together magically (after hours and hours of internet searching), and she returned home feeling refreshed and energized…and with that excitement, a new idea for a travel company.

By the time she pulled into her driveway back home, the idea for Wanderlust Society had been born.

The premise for the company is that travel planning takes so much precious time and that you can’t trust the online reviews. But you can trust the reviews of your friends to save planning time and take better trips. Jana wanted to harness the trusted ease of real world recommendations and replicate that online.

Wanderlust Society is just coming out of stealth mode to launch the first phase of the site – a tool for travelers to keep track of where they want to go, check off where they’ve been, and bookmark ideas for trips. Coming soon, the team plans to add sharing and discovery features. The company has adopted the motto of, “friends help friends take great trips,” with the belief that one person’s travel plans may help others with similar interests.

The Wanderlust Society team is composed fully of former veteran Amazon employees. Half of the team first met on Amazon’s Personalized and Automated Merchandising team (the team that provides the, “customers who bought [X] also bought [Y]” feature). Jana says that they plan to use this background to go beyond making the generic travel recommendations to “society members.” If a traveler loves craft beer and mountain biking, similar travel plans from others will be suggested. The company plans to charge a premium for some features but also have a robust free tier that will benefit many travelers not needing all the bells and whistles.

“I created another startup back in the mid 1990s when the Internet was just starting to gain wider usage,” Jana told The B-Town Blog. “Along with my husband, Andy Kleitsch (also a fellow Burien native), we co-founded Bridalnet, which was sold to an idealab! company in Los Angeles.”

The couple relocated to Southern California to form a new company called Wedding Channel, now owned by The Knot. After the initial launch of the site, they returned home to – where else? – Burien! She and her husband bought a house in the Three Tree Point neighborhood, with the personal motto of “always live like you are on vacation.” It was a good call.

Wanderlust Society has 3 full time employees and a few more part time advisors at an office in the nearby Georgetown neighborhood. The site is opening its testing phase to the public this week, at www.wanderlustsociety.co.

Users can create their own account, as the beta is now open to anyone who is interested and has a Facebook account.

Here’s a screenshot of a cool tour map of Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood:

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