started trading on Sept 10 in 1999. Some months later I sold it to a German
online discounter for close to 10 mio USD. That same company ran out of money a
year and a half later and declared default. Declaring default in some parts of the world might not be a
big thing but for a German declaring default is like getting his testicles cut off.
So when I
tried to rescue the same company that I had sold there were some jealous souls
at the mother company who tried with everything in their power to prevent me. Jealousy
is a strong force not only in Sweden. But I thought I had all the rights in the
world, after all I sold a company and was never paid.
were simple; I wanted to save the company, I didn’t want to declare bankruptcy
and I wanted revenge. After 18
months with owners that basically only thought about money I wanted to do
something different. That different could be anything but I thought building a
great travel company could be worth the effort.
I tried to
negotiate with the German estate lawyers to buy Travelstart back, but they
would simply not listen. They wanted to take the little money that was in our bank
account and screw all the customers. I could see the headlines in the press:
well known travel entrepreneur Stephan Ekbergh leaves thousands of travellers stranded
or something like that. Press loves stories like that.
had millions in debts and I knew that buying the company would jeopardize
everything for me. But I was never one who cared about playing things safe. I had
seen what gazillions in venture capi.jpgtal could do and I wasn’t impressed. I
thought I could do much better trying my own luck. The lawyers fought hard trying
with all kind of tricks to secure the cash flow in Travelstart. But they were
After a months
dogfight about the money that we needed to keep things running I was almost
ready to give in. They simply would not sell me the company and they tried
several times to declare us bankrupt, but I refused.
Mannheimer Swartling a prestigious lawyer firm in Malmö, Sweden, and asked if
they could help. They contacted their Frankfurt office that gave the assignment
to one of their partners. To everyone’s surprise this partner was also tennis buddy
with the lawyer who I was dog fighting with.
week of strategy talk we agreed on a price and my lawyer presented this fair
price to the lawyer handling the bankruptcy estate. He refused but finally gave
in during a tennis game. The final approval came in the sauna at the tennis
club. My lawyer called me as I was out horseback riding. I still remember how
happy I felt sitting there smelling horseshit.
later we signed the papers and we were on to new ventures.
tomorrow for more Travelstart stories