How to launch a travel platform in a thousand days

No, this is not a story of quick and cunning manoeuvres. This isn’t how we hacked for a weekend and launched an app. This is a story of personal transformation lead through trying my darn hardest to live out… another person’s dreams.

Domen Kert
Jan 20 · 6 min read
Self-sabotage is not fun. Illustration by Saša Nemec

I’ve been working with businesses, mostly startups, for the better part of a decade now. I thought I had it down. I’ve been consulting on how to grow startups since 2015. I’m a mentor at 500 Startups, a prestigious, top-tier startup accelerator. People come to me with questions, to which, I mostly know the answer. Yet, when it comes to starting something of your own, the rules change completely.

All of a sudden deep-seated programs start rushing to the front. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast. And precisely these programs or negative patterns, whatever you may want to call them, are the reason why I could not proceed. I tried everything. But I always got stuck somewhere. Whatever I did, I could not seem to get the promised land. To become a businessman.

Turns out, trying to become a businessman was one of the reasons holding me back. Why? For the life of me, I did not wish to become a businessman. The idea was horrible to me, I could not bear it. I realised that it was not even my idea, but my father’s. He’s always wanted to be a businessman, someone people admire for his business savvy. Someone who built something big, shiny. And he failed at it. Ouch. It took me over a decade to realise I was not following my idea, but another’s.

Here I was trying hard, mind you, really hard, to live out his dreams. Not mine. That was a major reason why I had tried dozens of things over the past decade and failed at all of them. I realised this truth on New Year’s eve, going into the new decade. As if I was helped not to repeat the past decade, or the past decades.

So going into 2020 I dropped it all. I said no more business. I’ll do something, but I don’t know what, yet. But it kept coming back to me. I knew there was more to explore. After all, I was deeply passionate about what I was building— Travelicious, a travel platform for a new generation. I probably had the most fun just sitting down and creating Travelicious. I mean, who designs and hacks aways at 3 AM, on a Saturday? Is that not what they mean with Passion, with a big, fat capital P? I realised that I loved building stuff, thinking and talking about it, bringing something new to the world, helping people.

I don’t care about creating a huge business, employing people, being a boss, and money, money, money… that was father’s wish. I want to bring to the world cool concepts that people will benefit from and find them delightful. That seems to drive me. And I love designing Travelicious. When I do I’m in a flow state. Time flies. The process goes on and I do not exist. In that space, I am my happiest. Work, nay, creating, really is a cure for me. Who’d a thunk it? Especially because of my fast mind, that often runs away from me. And then I’m like a dog searching for a bone. So, work heals me, in a way. Work that I love doing.

Here we are, then. Three years after the initial thought came to mind of doing something in the travel space. I assembled two teams, and proceeded to disband them. Rented two offices in two different cities, only to return them soon after. Hosted a costly event to no real purpose, and wanted to host another, much more expensive one, to no real purpose. I had probably spent 10k on the whole ordeal. And nothing concrete had materialised. A lot of ideas, landing pages, PDFs and meetings. Exhausting, I tell you.

Beyond living out father’s dreams, a deep fear of making mistakes and a fear of failure (and success!) was at the core of not launching. Always changing my mind, looking for another thing to do. It’s not right yet. Not this, not that. Maybe this? I needed many years of personal work to see and overcome (some) of these fears. Remember, we’re always blind to our blind spots, until they’re seen.

These blind spots were there for a reason — in searching for reasons and ways out I had to break my shell to let the light in. And I am beyond grateful for it. For if I had been allowed to proceed earlier, I would never have seen these negative patterns within me, and would be bound to them for much longer. Thus the so-perceived failures, were in fact, keeping me from more harm down the road.

We ought to realise that we’re mostly blind to the influences that push us. Be it personal programs from childhood, be it collective intents, it’s crucial to develop a high-degree of self-observation (as much as that is, indeed, possible). What are my desires? Do I really want this, or am I fulfilling the wish of my family, my company, my country? What are the talents I would like to bring forth to the world? That is the question.

In the end, it took me less than a month to build the beta version of Travelicious. And so on January 20, 2020, Travelicious launches, and what happens next, is of no real consequence. It is the inner transformation that was important for me. The outside is, as I write in this medium post, merely a reflection.

I’d like to thank all the people that were involved with this project that bore many different names, and came with different intentions. Jurij and Matevž, who were part of crew one, thank you for your patience. Miha, my dear cousin, brother in arms, was part of both crews. Thank you, too, for your patience, and for going along a crazy man’s wishes.

And finally, I’d like to thank Saša, my wonderful girlfriend, without whom this would never have happened and who helped me realise who I am not. Thank you! And thank the Light for bringing us together. :*


Travelicious logo (created by the wonderful Saša Nemec)

Our vision “One app the world around”.

Now, a word or two on Travelicious, if you don’t mind.

We’re creating a travel platform that connects all existing options out there, creating, sort-of, a travel hub. From inspiration and discovery to planning, sharing and laughing. No more Googling “top 10 travel things to do in Slovenia”, checking out dozens of blogs, copy/pasting links to your sheets. We’re creating a seamless, frictionless and FUN experience discovering and planning your trips.

At this stage, the beta allows travellers to discover other people’s experiences, save them, share their own adventures AND … what is, I believe, rather unique, allow people to earn a passive income.

Instead of empty likes, we reward our users with a passive income.

Yes, just by sharing your experiences you can earn a passive income on Travelicious.

How? Through a booking map that combines both Airbnbs and hotels on one map (curtesy of a partnership with Stay22). When travellers book through this map, which is integrated on Travelicious, we get a commission, and so does the traveller who posted an experience that embedded this map. Neat, isn’t it? More on how it works here.

This is especially great for all the travel influencers who get used by Instagram and the likes, getting nothing in return but empty likes and a slap in the face. We’ve created a system of sharing success, because we believe this is the way of future companies. And because it’s so cool!

The explore page, specific experiences page and the sleep map. See more at Travelicious.io

Your go.

So, hey, start discovering, sharing, favouriting and earning. Visit travelicious.io and create your account. The world is your oyster. See you on the other end ;)

Domen Kert

Written by

Growth mentor helping out startups and indie makers • 500 Startups mentor • founder at Travelicious.io

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