Bottom line Bookinglayer is a tech company and usually tech companies raise lots of funding to scale to big numbers as fast as possible. Here is why we’ve chosen a different approach and embrace slow growth.
It is in our genes
Being a fresh university dropout at age 22 I started a company Symbaloo, that delivered a handy start on the web in a time where search - as a way to start navigating the web - was still something for more internet savvy users. The idea quickly got the attention of friends and potential investors and it was obvious to me there was a lot of potential in the idea. Somehow it felt there was no time to lose (to raise funding, build the service and roll it out) and long story short: we made pretty much all the classic mistakes a young tech startup could make. Disillusioned I left the company after 18 months and it felt like I had been in a constant rush. Mainly due to that experience, when I discovered the need for Bookinglayer, I wanted to do things differently. This time I was able to build an MVP myself as I taught myself coding by doing client work in the time after Symbaloo. With the initial focus on surf camps I had picked a niche market that seemed too small and complicated to focus on but the upside of the slow adoption was that I could stay focused without having to worry about competitors. Bookinglayer stayed a one-man business in its first two years before a second developer got involved in the third year.
What is wrong with a company that lasts?
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the approach of building companies just for the sake of ‘making an exit’. Often teams fall apart after such an event and customers are left with software that is unmaintained or out-dated. Our customers realise they need a long term partner for their booking software. Reservations, customers and invoices are at the heart of the company and the data Bookinglayer collects is essential to a business owner to make decisions. Therefore it doesn't surprise us that we sometimes get questions such as what our long term strategy is and whether we are financially stable. It is clear to us our customers are not keen to change their booking system every 5 years and preferably their booking system stays with them as long as they run their business. If we would have maintained a common tech startup-strategy of scale and exit within a few years, many of our customers wouldn’t have been with us today.
We don't want to burn-out
While we help to get our customers getting their lifestyle back, we also care about our balance between work and play.
Though common for a tech company, we decided not to base ourselves in a European tech hub such as Berlin or Amsterdam but in a rural area close to the ocean and with access to mountains. Part of our team works remotely at a place they love to be and another part is almost constantly on the road maintaining a digital nomad-lifestyle.
When we recruit new team members, our interest goes to the ones who maintain a healthy lifestyle and care about spending their free time outside. We do sometimes make crazy work weeks but it is like surfing: taking it when it comes. When a good swell hits the coastline we’re out surfing. When there is a boost in signups via our website or a peak in support requests we make the extra hours.