Johannes Reck is CEO & Co-Founder of GetYourGuide, the world’s largest online marketplace for tours, activities, and attractions around the world.
The most important qualities of a great leader are to process a lot of information quickly, set the right priorities and convince the team that the strategy is the right one. Every day you face tremendous opportunities and challenges. It is all about deciding what to do and even more importantly what not to do. You have to pick your battles. A particular example from my daily work is to decide in which destinations, source markets or product lines we want to focus our investment.
People who say that there is one magical tweak that makes you successful are quite likely clueless. Every larger organization has many drivers for growth. Think about your strategy, operations, business economics or company culture just to name a few. You have to iteratively work on all of these things to make your company successful. There is no shortcut. At GetYourGuide we always refer to the flywheel metaphor. You have to keep pushing the flywheel every day in order to get it going. One day it magically turns by itself, but it takes a lot of time and energy to get there and you could never tell which push made the flywheel turn in the end. It’s a combination of many things.
Coupling marketing with sales and having very good information flow between the two units has been very positive to our success.
As a founder and particularly as a CEO you are always hiring, whether you are at a conference, in an airplane or at a cocktail party: Anyone you talk to is a potential employee or knows capable people that would be a great fit. Make them aware that you are hiring and that you are only going for top talent and a lot of leads will get funnelled to you. If less than 50% of your employees are hired on references from the company’s network, it is a sign that the recruiting process is not healthy.
Defining clear goals and objectives on a company level, team level and individual level!
In the very beginning we got a lot of content from local activity providers, which was indexed on Google and resulted in organic traffic. This is how we got our first transactions and discovered the market opportunity.
Fortunately there is a lot of literature on the web today that helps start-ups get the fundamentals of the company right. A few examples would be solid legal contracts between founders, employee incentives or how to raise money. In hindsight you can always do a few things better, but thanks to the great start-up infrastructure of today we got all the fundamentals right and that is what matters.
GetYourGuide is not a “Hacker” company. That is not our culture. Cleverness might give you a quick win, but strategy will build your organization. I highly discourage ambitious founders to think about quick wins and hacks, but rather think about strategy. Ironically, part of that strategy might be to ship or “hack” projects quickly or to test a lot of marketing channels in a short period of time.
Talking to the first customer that I was not related to or knew, who used our product. I was totally worried that he might have had a bad experience and I was very relieved and very happy, when that wasn’t the case. Over time I grew more confident with these situations, but it still gives me a shiver, when I hear that someone knows and uses our service.