RALEIGH – Ever book a holiday with friends and then have plans go awry, leaving you to foot the bill? Not anymore.

Sardines, a startup out of Raleigh, is looking to change all that with a new travel platform designed to help women traveling solo to find travel partners on their own terms.

As its founder Odofoley Oquaye, 35, recounts, she came up with the idea based on her own experiences.

“I actually will be updating the website soon to change it to people,” she explains. “We are focused on women travelers primarily because of safety concerns with sex trafficking and some of the fears related to co ed travel.”​

Sardines founder Odofoley Oquaye

Oquaye sees Sardines as a way to make travel a more enjoyable, less costly experience.

“It stemmed from the situations where I found myself booking accommodations, only to have friends drop out, leaving me to find people to replace them in my limited network, cancel my plans, compromise my standards to save money or spend more money to account for the loss,” says the Shaw University graduate.  “With our platform, you can find like-minded travelers to help split those costs so none of those alternatives are a reality.”

Here’s how it works:

This graphic from Sardines explains how its process works.

Oquaye recently participated in the Black Entrepreneurs Week bootcamp and pitch competition, and said her platform is different to others out there at the moment.

“The issue with travel groups and Facebook groups is that the search functionality is hard to navigate and even if you do find a potential travel partner in the community, how can you exchange money that protects both partners?  Our platform helps with all of those logistical issues.”

To date, she has raised $20,000 in funding and is getting ready to host a soft launch with friends and family at The Nest at 414 Fayetteville St. in Raleigh this weekend.

“Once we have the feedback we need from our community, we will take that information to our developer, prioritize and implement the improvements,” Oquaye says. “After that, we go live.”