Five years history, two rounds funding, and a gradual refinement of the business model. Hundreds of hours spent in meetings and brainstorming, thousands of hours for programming and development, sometimes even at night, more than 200 presentations to potential customers and partners as well as several beers and hookahs consumed during our traditional Friday meetings.
This is us and here are the lessons we have learnt.
Build a Strong Team
One of the first lessons that we learned was the importance of building a strong team. Strength of team comes from many factors, most notably diversity, communication, and celebrating success.
First, we have built a very diverse team that spans across many cultures, lifestyles and ages that bring together a holistic point of view. Having multiple points of view serves you when having brainstorming sessions as you can see things from many different angles. Secondly, a team that understands each other and communicates well, works better together. One of the first team exercises we did was the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test, which puts you into 1 of 16 different personality types. An example is some people prefer a lot of data prior to making a decision when others prefer a more intuitive approach. No right or wrong way in doing things, in fact in a start-up you need all types.
Build the MVP and… Listen to Customers
A second lesson that we learned at Waynaut was how to build the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Building a MVP is a delicate matter as it balances what features are and are not crucial. The tough decision on what features to exclude needs to be debated to make sure time is not being spent on non-crucial features. In our early days, when we were B2C focused, we initially tried to build an MVP with a wide geographical coverage and many means of transport. We realised we had to pull back and focus on one city, Milan, whereby we could demonstrate our algorithm, while building out a simple prototype. With this prototype, we were able to demonstrate the cheapest and fastest ways to get around Milan.
Having tested this in the market, we received insightful feedback from our customers that was fed back into the product development. However, it also made us realise that we needed to re-position the company to be B2B focused. After one and half years, we renamed the company to Waynaut and continued to develop the product we have today. In the end, we learned to listen to our customers to guide us on our MVP and to keep an open mind to change and adjust the company.
The final lesson, which is one of the toughest lessons as a start-up, is to maximise your exposure in a marketplace where all the players, big and small, are vying for attention. We learned early on to invest in the crucial few tradeshows that would maximise our exposure. We choose to participate as an exhibitor at smaller trade shows like Travel Technology Europe (TTE) and Travel Distribution Summit (TDS) while participating as an attendee at massive shows like ITB Berlin, in order to be free to move around and cover as many exhibit halls as possible. Finally, we were sure to pair our events plan with an active social media plan, in the build-up to the events, to generate excitement and to extend our reach.
Finally, we like to celebrate our successes. Be it the launch of a new product launch or looking back on our journey and how much we have grown, making sure the team receives a sense of accomplishment is important in driving forward. We use our quarterly meetings and bi-annual offsite planning session to make sure we are celebrating successes and recognising the accomplishments of our team.
(Photo: Part of Waynaut team at Sabre Destination Hack, London)