We recently had the honour to have an interview with Dennis Klett, the CEO of Lodgify. He gave us some insights and anecdotes on himself and his startup! Lodgify empowers passionate lodging operators to grow their hospitality business through technology. We do this by developing powerful and beautiful software that enhance and simplify the online marketing and management of lodging businesses. Lodgify offers a complete solution for owners to advertise their apartments and properties online.
FundingSpree: How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
Dennis Klett: My parents were renting out vacation rental apartments in a ski resort in the German Alps, so I was already very familiar with the challenges that owners face when renting out their vacation home. One day my parents asked me whether I could set up a website for their vacation rental as they realized that most of the bookings were coming from return guests. Since the major listing sites typically ask for a commission or traveler fee, my parents wanted their return guests to book directly instead of redirecting them to listings on the booking portals. Also, they wanted to build a professional and credible online presence to which they could redirect guest who called them over the phone or who got referred by local tourist offices. Instead of building the website from scratch and reinventing the wheel, I was looking for a software solution like Shopify or Squarespace, but fully optimized to the needs of vacation rental businesses. The solutions that I found were either not powerful or not easy enough to use. Coincidentally, my co-founder had the same experience with his uncle’s agritourism business in Italy. So that’s when the idea came up to build Lodgify, a tool that allows you to easily create a vacation rental website with a booking system and reservation manager.
FS: What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome so far?
DK: Prior to raising our seed round we were completely bootstrapped. Self-financing our startup was super tough and is basically a race against time. You go through those typical startup stages where you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to keep the business alive. Luckily we managed to keep product development efficient whilst more and more users fell in love with our software.
FS:Tell us about one anecdote which made your transition to working for a startup worth it
DK: In general, I think it is very rewarding to work in a startup, no matter whether you act as the founder or join as an employee. The fact that you can really have an impact on the business and create tangible value makes it worth it. Highlights are when customers tell you how much they enjoy using your product and how much it has helped them in running their business as well as when funds arrive in your bank account from investors who really believe in your company and share the same vision.
FS: Is there any growth hack you use to improve/scale your business or to make some of your workflows more efficient?
DK: Yes, we are using several growth hacks in many aspects of our business. When you have limited time and resources, you are really forced to come up with out-of-the-box methods to solve problems and grow your business. The great thing about working in a startup is that it typically gives you the freedom to actually implement “hacks”. However, we would not have that one “special trick” that solves it all. I think it is the sum of all little hacks, hard work and constantly trying to excel in every aspect of the business that drives our success.
FS: Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about starting their own company?
DK: Go out and do it! 🙂 But honestly, I think it’s very difficult to actually decide on whether or not to start a company in the first place. Running a startup is extremely tough and hard work. By the way, the odds are also against you. So my advice is to carefully consider your personal and financial situation and to test your idea in the market using lean startup techniques. Bottom line, you need to get comfortable with your decision from a rational perspective and also have a clear back-up plan. Then there is the emotional element: During our time at Seedcamp we were asked about our “noble purpose”. What is the “noble purpose” that would still keep you going when things aren’t going the way as expected? When sh*t hits the fan – and sh*t will hit the fan – what “noble purpose” will keep you going? If you have found that “noble purpose” within you and your idea, then go out and do it.
FS: Which sectors do you think have the most potential for innovation right now and why?
DK: Working within the travel industry ourselves, I know that this is an industry which has a lot of innovation potential especially when it comes to empowering small businesses with technology, no matter which travel segment they operating in – whether that’s vacation rentals, hotels, tours & activity operators, etc. Outside of travel, I also believe that the entire banking and financial industry has been lacking to make better use of technology on the consumer side for quite some time now, and I am very curious to see how Fintech will play out disrupting the classic banking business model.
FS: If you will start another company, is there anything you would do differently the second time around?
DK: Yes, absolutely, there are a lot of things I would do differently. The great thing when building a startup is that you learn so many new things every day. Making mistakes is normal and are in fact necessary to develop yourself professionally and also personally. So there are many lessons learned so far and I would definitely try to apply them all when doing a new startup.
Thanks Dennis, and keep rocking!