Two lawyers in a sauna


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.

My drivers
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.

The company
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
not successful.

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.

I contacted
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.

After a
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.

Some days
later we signed the papers and we were on to new ventures.

Come back
tomorrow for more Travelstart stories

Our Readers Comments

  1. I bet horseshit has never smelt better….
    Well done for not giving up the fight.

  2. What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank the Lord that you didn’t give up – what would we be without our Travelstart? I am sure all Travelstarters agree that this is one of the best companies (if not T H E best company…) to work for. We here in South Africa come to work with a big smile on our face because our work is exciting, empowering, family away from home, inspiring, filling (fruit, breakfast, cakes, wine and chips served at work … not easy to follow through with a diet) and most importantly lots of fun! Thank you for making this possible! I am looking forward to the daily updates!!!

  4. Happy Birthday Travelstart!.
    Looking forward to more interesting stories.

  5. mig and all my friends are proud of you,and travelstart,we will give you all the supports we can

  6. I and all my friends are proud of you,we will support you and travelstart the most,both her in DK and other country

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