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Pana Founding Story with Devon Tivona on Real Leaders Podcast

Written by Paul Ballas on July 19

I feel pretty lucky. There are a lot of reasons for that, but a big one is that most days I wake up excited about my work. I run product here at Pana, building out terrific features for our on-demand travel agent app. Our members reinforce the importance of Pana to their travel lives (both for pleasure and business travel), and I am grateful for the input—both the raves and the, shall we say, more “constructive” feedback.

Those of you who are Pana members know the value this product provides in making travel fun again (those of you who are not yet using Pana can sign up for a free trial here!).

But the single biggest reason I feel great about being at Pana is that I’m fortunate to work with an extremely talented team. The co-founding team is phenomenal, and I’m particularly grateful to work with our co-founder and CEO, Devon Tivona. This week, Devon was featured in the Real Leaders Podcast (on Soundcloud, iTunes and wherever podcasts are found), and it’s a great chance to hear the backstory for the company and our CEO. For example, you may not know that the company originally had nothing to do with travel.

Devon is just 24, and he is a rare mix of tech and EQ, getting energy from making human connections as well solving complex technical problems. These qualities permeate our app. Devon’s combination of talents also has garnered for him and Pana real loyalty among investors and advisors. He recognizes the value of this circle: “In order for a concept to be successful, you have to have this inner circle of people who are obsessed with your product.”

Growing up Devon dreamed of attending Stanford. Although he was accepted there, he chose to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he was offered a full merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation and a slot in the prestigious Presidents Leadership Class. It was outside the classroom, however, where the computer science major found his real passion for entrepreneurship. He founded Pana with classmates, won the University’s prestigious New Venture Challenge, and the company was accepted to Techstars Boulder upon his graduation.

Devon talks about his core beliefs for building a tight team in the podcast, and what he says about candor and transparency is reflected in everything we do here. Moreover, one reason things stay fresh for us and for our users is that we are constantly vetting new ideas to improve the user experience, both for our members and the agents who are bent on supporting them. When it comes to vetting new ideas, the Pana team keeps its process open. “We have an idea, and we have a gut about it and we give the freedom to say 'Great. Build a hypothesis and go test it.’”

Give a listen to the podcast. I think you’ll see what I do in it: the raw talent and passion of a tremendous young leader and the way his qualities and values run through everything we are building as a company.

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