Archive for May, 2011

Entrepreneurship – lessons learned from a decade in business

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

*This post was originally published as an article in The Independent newspaper on 25 May 2011. Click here to access the original article

WAYN.com, the social platform we founded for the travel community just under 10 years ago, was born out of the love and passion its three co-founders had (and continue to have) for travelling. And that indeed is the first lesson any budding entrepreneur should learn: love your product. You’ll need it, because the blood, sweat and tears you will shed in the course of bringing your idea to life will be much easier to deal with if you know in your heart that the product is worthy of all your efforts.

Having said that, be pragmatic. That means being able to step back and look at the bigger picture – recognising what isn’t working, and then adjusting and moving forwards, step by step. Believe us, we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, as no doubt you will too. But as they say – and this is certainly true in our case – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

For example, the rise of Facebook should have spelled the end of smaller social communities such as WAYN, but the fact that we (and many other niche social networks) have survived – and indeed continue to grow – is testament to our perseverance and the fact that as long as the product is innovative, then there will be room in the market for it.

But it must also be said that luck has played its role in our venture, as it undoubtedly does in all start-ups. We were lucky in that we were one of the very first movers in our sector which gave us a huge advantage, but timing is not everything. Barriers to entry can be broken if you have a good product that better meets the needs of your customers – just look at how Facebook took over from MySpace.

Following your instincts is another factor often mentioned in success stories. And for us, it has mostly paid off. We’ve made many a business decision based on gut feelings. Luckily the three of us have for the most part been on the same page, which is another factor in our success – finding the right people to partner with, those with complimentary skill sets and who can be trusted to do the best for the company. Each of WAYN’s co-founders offers something unique to the company and that has certainly helped to create and maintain forward momentum.

As for the lessons learnt since attracting venture capital investment; firstly, bootstrap for as long as possible so you don’t dilute equity too quickly. Secondly, if you do get into bed with a VC, take care to understand the objectives of everyone involved and be prepared for a different type of journey. For example, when we raised our ‘series A’ investment round in 2006, everyone wanted to be our mates, but relationships change and the stakes are higher when you’re going through tougher times. Furthermore, treat VC money very carefully, or you will pay for it later. Remember that it is a lot easier to spend money to grow than it is to grow your profits to make money.

Finally, enjoy the ride. There will certainly be challenges at every step of the journey, but always be ambitious and never give up. We are certainly entrepreneurs at heart and are very supportive of others like us who risk it all to strike out on their own. We are advocates of policies that foster more entrepreneurship and innovation in society and we hope that the knowledge we’ve learnt along the way will help to usher in the next generation of start-ups. Globalisation and a permanently connected world have levelled the playing field between big and small enterprises, established businesses and start-ups. There’s never been a better time to challenge the norm, and never a better time to disrupt.

 

One night in Barcelona

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Hello all- hope you are all well. This week we give you our Product Wonder Woman- Marta, who’s only recently got back from what sounds like a very eventful stay in lively Barcelona. Before we hand over to her though, we just wanted to wish a happy belated mother’s day to all our WAYNers around the world who undertake that most noble of duties: to be mothers to the next generation :)

Now over to Marta,

The 3 Founders

__

Hello my lovely WAYNers,

It’s Marta, reporting from the forefront of travelling and partying in Europe! :) I have finally recovered from my most recent voyage so thought I’d let you in on some of the delights myself and my 5 girlfriends came across along the way ;)

The most recent pin on my WAYN map belongs to Barcelona, the city of Gaudi (and also the thieves) where I celebrated my sister’s hen night!

I am happy to report back that Catalonia’s most famous city, and the host of the yearly Mobile World Congress, did not disappoint on the party scene!

We started out with delicious tapas to the sound of Flamenco at an amazing venue in Spanish Village, Tablao del Carmen, recommended to us by many WAYNers who had visited before (WAYN doing what it does best! ;) )

Next up we headed out to sample some delicious drinks in Barcelona’s most fabulous venues.

We started our night at ultra-exclusive Eclipse, located at the 26th floor of Hotel W, where delicious cocktails are complemented by world-class DJ sessions. Oliver, the bar manager, did an excellent job making us feel very welcome ;)

When the clock rang for midnight, contrary to popular belief, we did not turn into pumpkins; however we did change our location so as to check out Barcelona’s renowned club scene. First stop: Club Astoria, again courtesy of another WAYN enthusiast! (Thank you Andrea)  What used to be an old cinema, this new venue lures its guests with lush décor and late-night lounge atmosphere, rocking to the sound of European top 40. In four words: we had a blast!

But we could not finish the night without visiting a House Music venue to top up our stay! With the future bride being a big Hed Kandi enthusiast, we headed to Shoko! Sitting proudly on the beach front, sandwiched between other beach bars and clubs, Shoko is a place to be, a venue for beautiful people ready to dance the night away, welcoming a great mixture of glamorous locals and curious tourists. I guess that leaving the club at 6am should speak for the fun we had there- and is testament to WAYN’s recommendation service that put me in touch with people already in Barcelona (Thanks Sandra for the tip!)

So in a few summing words, Barcelona, for a party weekend, Rocks!

Now, back home, I need to catch up on some sleep :) If you ever plan a trip to Barcelona, make sure you add the trip on to your WAYN account to get recommendations from myself and other  WAYNers :) Also check out the OH Barcelona profile for some more tips on Barcelona ;)

Keep well!

Marta (in the middle, with the girls)

 

WAYN.com hits 11m visits in the last 30 days

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Hi everyone- hope you are all keeping well. Over here in London, we are enjoying the (rather unusual) bright sunshine and the continued euphoria that has spilled over from the Royal Wedding and the Easter holidays. :) If you didn’t already know, sunshine and weddings always bring a smile to our faces ;)

We have an interesting update from our Product Wonder Woman Marta coming up later this week, but before that, we thought the three of us founders will update you quickly on some good news about the upward trajectory of WAYN.com. The continued development of the site with regard to navigation, positive user experience and bug elimination continues to reap benefits: as the graph below from Alexa Internet attests, our traffic- and traffic rank- maintains its climb, while we are pleased to announce the site logged in 11m visits last month.

This certainly bodes well for the further updates and upgrades we have planned in the next few weeks and months. Ultimately the more users WAYN has, the greater the shared knowledge within the community and therefore the more useful WAYN becomes to each member. So as always a sincere thank you to our loyal WAYNers around the globe, for who indeed we strive every day to improve the functionality of the site.

 

The Founders

 


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