How a startup changed the way I think about work
My 6 learnings as a startup newbie
“The goal of this tutorial is not only that people understand the product, but that they are bursting to use it.“
have a lot of ideas on how to explain tripsuit, the digital travel agent. I already explained all kinds of products in my long experience in a marketing agency with international key accounts. I was really good at that. Supporting international sales teams by explaining complicated B2B products and services appealingly — I can do that. But this talent is not of much help for my hew job: Now it’s B2C and I am the sales team, the concept designer and developer, all in one.
My first thought: Well, f*ck. That’s a good start for my new job.
A few days earlier: My first day at tripsuit
“Just be here somewhere before noon”, Max wrote me. So I am there somewhere before noon. Here at tripsuit it’s not about when I work, but about working good and being able to fulfill my tasks with full energy. This is quite a change from my prior job. I am motivated!
The office is located in Köln-Lindenthal, surrounded by inviting gastronomy and a lot of green spaces. It’s a quiet area, although in the center of the city. In front of our house there is a movie shooting right now, they shoot for a popular tv series.
I love the fact that the company is so close to the city life — so I can discover new things. “Discovering new things” is not only one of the biggest pleasures in life for me, it’s at the same time one of the pillars for tripsuit. That was one of the main reasons why I decided to accompany Maximilian and Alex on their journey.
In two hours you know everything about the product”
If I learned one thing during my last decade in the marketing industry, it’s that if something is described as “easy”, it’s in most cases the complete opposite (the same holds true for “premium”). So how am I supposed to dive into that topic easily?
The answer is quite simple: I am the first tester of the new product, the personalized travel agent. For the first time I can click through the web app I read and heard so much about. I can find out what works and where it still needs improvement.
Two hours later: “You’re kidding.”
Two hours later, I in fact know a lot about the product. How it feels, what quality the results have, what needs to be improved and what’s still missing. Exciting for me: The product apparently didn’t need much time to get to know me: Prague was my top result. My father and a good friend of mine recommended Prague to me a couple of times and I always wanted to go there. “You’re kidding. I told you about Prague and you put that result in for me manually!”, I alleged Max. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had done it. He didn’t.
So how to explain the product?”
So now I know the product for some time and am supposed to find a way to make it understandable for website visitors and convert them to users. How do I do that? A nice video is my first thought if you want to explain something in an entertaining way. But that’s too much effort for now. “A nice landing page would be much easier to build and would have SEO advantages, too”, I explain to the team. But tripsuit can’t be explained in a couple of seconds, that could cost us a lot of users.
The solution, as always, lies somewhere in between. In no time, we develop a video/website hybrid that explains the product with short animations, but gives full control to the user. I developed it all with HTML, jQuery and CSS3, so we can profit from SEO content. If the well placed call-to-action buttons really convert properly, we will see soon after the launch of tripsuit. A/B tests will be part of the start, says Max. A good idea, I prepare everything for it.
Of course, this is only one of many channels we are going to use for our marketing mix in the future. The interesting takeaway for me is that I would never have considered that channel before. And there’s more that distinguishes this work from my prior experiences:
My 6 learnings in the first startup of my life
1 - I had a wrong understanding of creativity
My life was all about projects, campaigns, budgets, etc. My customers were established players, most of them with a very strict corporate identity. I considered it creative to elaborate ideas for a given goal in this microcosmos. Now I know that what I did was logical thinking and acting on instruction.
“Creare” is Latin and means “create”. At tripsuit I learn to develop ideas from scratch. I learn to independently define tasks and to efficiently deliver the best possible result — for a product that has not existed before in this form and is not established in the market.
2 - All working times are not created equal
In the B2B sector, a 9–6 job is usual and makes sense. How else could I be there for my customers who work at these hours? At tripsuit, I work when I want and where I want. There’s no clocking in and out. The most important thing is to deliver optimal results in the agreed time. I like this focus on productivity and efficiency. It’s about results and not about working hours.
3 - Done is better than perfect
This is a common business phrase. I kept nodding when I read or heard it. “As a designer, it’s a different thing”, I thought. It is supposed to look and feel good, otherwise I am disappointed. But since it’s about results here, I learned to start more realistically and with less features — in order to see what can be improved and what users want afterwards. My prior employer surely would have liked that, too.
4 - Believing in the big picture
Coming from the agency sector, I am used to jump from project to project. Some of my past projects I still follow with excitement — they grew on me. All the time, other people profited from my ideas — I finally wanted to be responsible for my own success.
I expect that success from tripsuit. I can contribute to a project that changes the travel sector fundamentally and gives joy and ease to our users. Since I love to travel myself, but don’t love travel planning at all, I think with tripsuit I found a service I can be taken up in, and which I can actively build up. I didn’t know that feeling before — and it feels really good.
5 - It’s about focus
It’s unfamiliar to me that there is no telephone ringing and no email right before 6 PM that ruins my evening. For the first time in years, I can decide on myself when to pull me out of my task. This allows intense concentration phases plus much better recovery phases. I do have more of both now.
6 - Rest and recreation
As a passionate gamer, I always tried to integrate gaming as part of the team building process. And to a certain degree, it worked out. But I should have practiced more — both Maximilian and Alex can look back on a glorious ESL history. I rarely played Counter-Strike matches that were so much fun. We play, because it’s fun and because it frees your mind. Often enough, great ideas emerged from a nice gaming session.
This article was published on our internal company blog at inside.tripsuit.com.