When you look back at your career which period would you consider to be the hardest?
It was hard to abandon a career in consulting, which was really taking off, and the awesome compensation that came along with it, to jump headfirst into a startup. But I realized that no one successful ever built a startup while working in the corporate sector and concentrating on the startup only on weekends.
What was the hardest thing about your business during its beginnings and how did you overcome the crisis?
It was hard when I put together a team with the vision of future investments, but the meetings ran long, and the company had no money to pay its employees. I took a risk and covered the costs from my own savings for a while.
What advice would you give anyone trying to start their own company?
I would first start working for a different startup and learn from it what works and what doesn´t. It´s good to learn off someone else for a while rather than ruin your own business straight away by making a rookie mistake.
Which one of your personality traits do you consider to be the most important for the ability to lead your company?
I don´t get thrown off easily. That´s important when building a startup because you´re up one day, down the next.
What is the most annoying part about being a boss?
As CEO, I have to be the head of fundraising, and I don´t enjoy having to repeat the same pitch over and over for the fiftieth time. I´d rather take care of the product, the team, the business. But I know that it´s a necessity because investors invest only into a minimal percentage of projects that are presented.
What keeps you going forward?
I believe that we´re doing something big that can change the travel experience for millions of people and can allow them to learn more about local cultures. Travelling doesn´t always need to imply consumerism, laying on the beach and making selfies in well-known spots. I personally have travelled the world and the most inspiration I found was through authentic local experiences. Not everyone can benefit from an amazing live local guide, but everyone can find such a guide in a digitalized form on their phone.
Do you have someone you look up to in business?
I´ve never had an idol like that. I think that each person is unique and should not try to be like someone else. Nevertheless, I greatly sympathize with Drew Houston, the founder of DropBox. We´re the same age, both have a background in technical studies, and we have similar world views. The story of how he came up with DropBox is an inspiration to me.
What would definitely throw you off during a meeting?
In general, I´m not someone who gets upset easily. Mostly, I would get put off by a fool, someone who´s not acting rationally. I try not to surround myself with such people, but I can most definitely get thrown off by elderly neighbors at a Community of Owners meeting who are able to argue stubbornly that 1+1=3.
What do you do when you´re having a crisis?
I´m an introvert, so the best thing for me is to reflect alone and then talk it through with one person that is close to me. To clear my head, outdoor sport works great for me, like going on a run through a forest.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Since childhood, I´ve loved the card game Magic the Gathering. I even used to enter competitions before. The successful pc version came out not so long ago. And even though I don´t play any other games, I´ve fallen for this one and I play it in the evening from time to time.
Where did you waste the most time of your life?
At school 🙂 I definitely don´t think that education in general is a waste of time, quite the contrary in fact. I had the honor to study at a lot of schools from a terrible Czech elementary school all the way to Harvard, I had the opportunity to fully witness the difference an alternate approach or teacher can make. I´ve sat through extremely valuable lessons but I´ve also wasted thousands of hours. I think a radical transformation of the education system should be one of the highest priorities of our society.
What was the best investment you ever made?
Into myself. I invested two years of my time, a lot of money and profit loss into MBA studies at Harvard. It was my biggest investment but the ROI (Return on Investment) is worth it 😊.
What is the worst thing about business?
Luck. Even though you can influence business a lot with your abilities and strengths, luck plays a major role and we can´t really influence that. In the stories of successful businessmen, we can almost always find that one moment when they got lucky while someone else didn´t. Luck often makes all the difference. Investors know this and they reduce the impact of luck by diversifying their portfolio. But the businessman himself can´t really avoid it.
What is the best thing about business?
Freedom. Compared to working in a corporate setting, you aren´t tied down by a number of processes, historical commitments and complex politics. I´m someone who likes to get his hands dirty and during the many years in the corporate sector, I saw how hard it was to push through good ideas “against the system”. Freedom and the possibility to act fast in the startup world are liberating.
What about your future excites you the most?
I´m trying to feel excited about the present. In the future, I´m most excited about travelling. Once the kids are a little more grown up, I´d like to take them on a year-long trip around the world and broaden their horizons. I´m already excited about that.