Alumni Story: From World Traveler to App Developer

By

Doug Walker

Travel was Doug Walker’s life. After 18 months backpacking through nine countries and three continents, he found clarity on his professional future. He decided to pursue a career with meaning and purpose, but one that would also allow him to share his passion for globetrotting. Armed with some basic coding knowledge, Walker set his sights on a developer program to expand his skill set and help him realize his dream.

Enter General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive. “My thirst for knowledge and travel made me look toward New York City and General Assembly,” says Walker. “The two came together seamlessly, and I booked my three-month trip [from my home in Berlin] to join GA.”

GA’s cutting-edge curriculum — which covers JavaScriptAPIsRails, and much more — supercharged Walker’s coding potential. He and his cohort were among the first GA students to work with React.JS, the popular JavaScript library used by countless app developers. Eventually, this enabled him and his fellow co-founders build KOMPAS, a cross-platform travel app that leverages machine learning to plan personalized trips for users. Heralded by Visa, Accenture, Tech World News, and more, the award-winning app is used by thousands of travelers around the world.

The skills Walker gained in WDI also helped differentiate KOMPAS from other travel apps. By integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning elements, KOMPAS offered travelers an ultra-personalized user experience, serving up targeted recommendations based on interests. “If you told me I’d be implementing AI into a mobile application a year after WDI, I’d have laughed and said, ‘maybe,’ jokingly,” Walker says of his growing technical abilities.

Walker’s GA experience didn’t stop at graduation. He continued to bounce ideas off former classmates and other grads via Slack, relying on them for feedback to help improve KOMPAS. As time goes on, he’s looking forward to leveraging the GA alumni network even more: “It’s really active, and everyone’s always happy to try and help each other out.”

After finding its user base, winning industry awards, and pulling in a round of funding in 2017, KOMPAS is on a path toward growth. “We’ve doubled in size, been featured in national and international press, and been recognized as one of the Top 500 Deep Technology companies in the world [by Hello Tomorrow],” Walker says. With this solid foundation, he hopes for KOMPAS to become the leader in AI-driven personalization in the travel space.

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