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The Origins of Prontopia: How A Global Career Led Founder Shannon Kenny to Invent A New Travel Service

December 14th, 2019 by Prontopia

After a career spent traveling between California and Italy, Prontopia’s founder and CEO Shannon Kenny began to notice a few things. First, she noticed that as a mom of two and a caregiver to aging parents, her travel experience would be so much easier if she just had a friend in the city to help her. And second, that in an industry largely defined by a DIY traveler mentality, that there was an opportunity to build connections in local destinations. Travelers needed a new travel service.

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So Kenny founded Prontopia in April of 2017. In the simplest of terms, Prontopia connects travelers to locals who love their city. Now, Kenny had that local friend in the city she wished she had – in fact, she had a whole team of them! In a broader sense, the Prontopia team and community are working together to build meaningful global connections, working on the company’s mission to cultivate human rights awareness, and leaving cities better than we found them.

The Origins of Prontopia: How A Global Career Led Founder Shannon Kenny to Invent A New Travel Service 0

Founder and CEO Shannon Kenny with Prontopia Local Carlotta

Prontopia has created a new category of travel service: simple help in the city when and where you need it. Prontopia solves many problems with travel that many travelers don’t even know they will have. In travel today, the increased usage of AirBnb, smart phones, and a DIY traveler mentality has left travelers with a false sense of confidence. Often upon arrival, travelers find themselves lost, struggling with luggage, or facing barriers to access – without a contact person or hotel front desk to help them. Prontopia now provides a solution in the form of a friendly local, which minimizes stress for travelers and empowers locals to have their voices heard. 

“I believe that by minimizing stress while getting around the city, this meaningful human encounter can steadily grow to open hearts and minds to be more respectful of the local culture of a place. It is encouraging to see such trust and understanding generated between two strangers meeting for the first time, and the resulting growth mindset toward inclusivity and responsible travel.” (Shannon Kenny, CEO, Prontopia)

Our Collaborative Approach

Because of this new category of service, we faced skepticism regarding whether or not we would compete with other travel services. But our approach is collaborative. When faced with criticism, we reach out directly and extend a hand, welcoming all to learn more about our community. We want to learn together how we can all rise to improve socioeconomic circumstances, combat barriers to inclusion, and improve the daily lives of everyone around us.

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Our team believes that together, we are better. Through purposeful grassroots action, Prontopia helps travelers, locals, and communities arrive to a better place without delay. We wake up every day and orient our work towards a corporate compass pointed at our common global humanity. 

As we grow, we are aware that the root causes of inequity are highly politicized and nuanced locally. As a company, we have built a successful model that proves that a social impact and community building approach doesn’t detract from growth, but actually drives it. We will continue to pursue our vision of leveraging the power of grassroots action to build profitable and sustainable city solutions that nourish communities and set the course for lighter footprints. 

Travel truly connected, with Prontopia.


Prontopia is an online service that provides friendly, in-person help from pre-vetted local assistants in city centers in Italy, Spain and the U.S.

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