About last year: the best early-stage start-up GuestJoy is moving towards a global footprint
It's been 9 months since your win at the sTARTUp Day best early stage start-up competition. What has happened, what has changed since then?
Quite many positive aspects have appeared. Now we can use all the knowledge from the investors, which we didn’t have before. The intuition of the founders works only works in limited cases. For sure, our ambition has grown. If you have the resources, then you dare to dream more. The problems of reality don’t kill the dream for a brighter future anymore.
A softer value is also easier communication with the partners. The investment gives you the so called quality token. At the very beginning, investors won’t take you very seriously. Due to that, it takes a lot of time to get your foot in the door.
Besides the big title – best early stage start-up of the year – you earned a 160K investment from EstBAN business angels. How have you used the investment?
We’ve used it for increasing the team – both in development and sales. We’ve made several business trips and joint events with partners, which we couldn’t afford before. Also, we have started with refreshing our brand.
What have been the biggest success, failures, and lessons of the year?
The fact, that our growth has continued, is definitely a success! We haven’t left ourselves resting on the laurels. What could have been better – the recruitment. We feel that finding the good employees is slowing down our growth. It takes a lot of time and the result isn’t always the best. We’re seriously considering applying the remote work culture, where the employee doesn’t necessarily have to be in Estonia.
What do you dream of? Which is your masterplan for the feature?
Besides exit, we dream of leaving the real global footprint. Currently, we’re working only in Europe, but we really wish that our guests could enjoy our services at every corner of the world. We don’t see a reason why the guests in Buenos Aires or Sidney shouldn’t be able to use the same features as we have here in Tallinn hotels.
In last October you said to Estonian technology portal Geenius that you’re planning to enter the larger tourist destinations in Central and Western Europe during the year. How's that gone?
We have had to change our plans a bit. In some Central and West European countries we perceived a serious language barrier that prevented us from making successful sales. That leads to that point we had to put some countries on hold, like Poland and Malta. It’s difficult to sell the product if the opposite party doesn’t fully understand you. We realized, that we needed a local representative there, but we weren’t ready for that step yet. Then we took the direction for North European countries and Ireland, where we’re doing very well. We make most of the sales on the phone and Skype, but at the early phase of every new market, we try to go the country at first for sensing the market and get the first reference customers.
What tips would you give to other start-ups that target similar markets?
Visit the country at least once – it gives you a better sense of the market. If you get a great bond with some client, try to get as many insights about the dynamics of the market as can get. Looking at the map, all countries can look similar, but the purchasing behaviour or the market barriers may vary drastically.