B sides. More anti success stories from Travelstart 25/30

I thought I
shouldn’t mention these stories because it makes us look like such idiots but
somehow I thought it would be great to get them out in the open. Hopefully it
can bring some closure.

Buying a company in Riga.

Some years
ago we were approached by travelport to “make something” in The Baltic’s. I
went over to Riga a dark winter night. There was this type of investment firm
that had invested in just about everything. They had originally made their
money on alcohol, which I must say is a safe bet in a country like that. This
company owned a small high street agency that we could use as a springboard for
fulfilment in the Baltics. We had a dinner and talked about how to make a deal.
I thought "what the hey, did I travel all this way for nothing? Lets just
buy the company. "Later we signed a LOI and had a law firm to make a due
diligence. My Swedish colleagues went over and had a different idea and stopped
the project. Lesson learned: Don’t do a deal just to justify a trip.

Launch in Latvia

A year
later Travelport, approached us again, about a possible j/v in Latvia. We met
and agreed that there were things we could do. We set up all formalities and
launched with a huge press release at the swankiest hotel Latvia. The bookings
never took off the way we wanted and we closed it down after about a year.
Lesson learned: watch out for joint ventures they seldom works

Buying a guest house in Cape Town

In 2006 we
started to bring down Swedish staff to Cape Town to manage Scandinavia
customers. We needed a central place were we could place the staff. In the
process we found that it was actually a lot cheaper to keep the guesthouse
running as a separate entity. We kept it for a year and then decided to sell.
We are not a real estate company. This was one of several mistakes we actually
made money on. Funny how that works. Lesson learned: If you buy a hotel at
least buy a big one.

Venturing into technology.

It was
always our idea to monetize on the technology we had built. So in 2008 our
technology company TravelLab launched a web based online travel solution to be
licensed to third parties called Xstart. We had worked with the whole project
for about a year. Just after launch I realized that there were some critical
elements simply not working. I shelved the project until I got a proper
organization together. To bad with some 20 premium customer signed up.

We also
invested heavily into another tech project that was constantly postponed, until
I got tired of promises and fired the team and scrapped the project. Lesson
learned: never trust a developer in business decisions

Buying Cape Town Pass.

Some years
ago we had an idea to venture out into new areas like incoming. We acquired a
small start up called Cape Town Pass and wanted to turn the business model
around. It was too complicated besides it was too much work. We used the tax
benefits in the company and closed it down. Lessons learned: there’s always
something on a bone that you can chew on.

Building a design studio – Irrational Studios

Being high
on design and creative people we tried to build a design studio called
Irrational Studios some year’s back. Paying customers got higher priority than
Travelstart and that didn’t really gel with what we wanted to do. Close down.
Lessons learned: Focus man.


Well there
are at least 20 more of these. Let’s see if I’m bold enough to tell them some

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