First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Maxime Renaudin: We are well. We spent the first part of the lockdown in France visiting family with our newborn baby and had to stay there for 2 months. Then I had to juggle between a baby and a startup, but everything is fine and was made possible with the help of my wife, just shorter nights 🙂
Tell us about you, your Career, how you founded hotelbreak
Maxime Renaudin: I’m French and moved to Spain, Majorca 3 years ago, to let Paris and its grey weather behind. There I worked as a UX Designer at Razorfish’s Paris office. Upon arriving in Palma, I worked as a freelance and later joined an international hotel chain with hotels in the Caribbean as their Head of UX, Analytics, and later Online Marketing. There I met Cristian, the other founding half of hotelbreak. We worked together on a lot of digitalization projects and were in charge of generating the eCommerce department 80M$ in annual revenue.
We decided to create hotelbreak when we realized there was an un-meet need from locals to access the hotel’s amenities easily with having to struggle to know which would welcome non-sleeping guests but also a need for hoteliers, and especially this year, to increase extra revenue that is not dependent on room booking. I thus developed an MVP moonlighting alongside my pregnant wife, and my cofounder tried to convince a few hotels to get on board. 2-3 weeks later, we launched with 3 hotels, and during our second month, we generated 45k€ GMV.
How does hotelbreak innovate?
Maxime Renaudin: We are creating the first marketplace where locals can book day experiences in hotels without having to book a room. We’re creating a new market for hotels, and we’re even seeing hotels staying closed this year except for the rooftop terrace that they commercialize via Hotelbreak.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Maxime Renaudin: At first, it was hard because even if we’re not dependent on tourism, we’re dependent on hotels to be open. So the full lockdown was a very calm period even though we “pivoted” selling gift vouchers. Our team had to be put on furloughs because it’s mainly sales reps, and there was nobody on the hotelier side they could contact.
But when the hotels reopened, we truly saw that local residents and tourists wanted to experience summer to the fullest. So, in the end, we’ve seen a 30% growth YoY in August, and we’ve reached the number of 155 hotels signed to sell on the platform. In fact, we’re even expanding in Portugal, France, and Italy.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Maxime Renaudin: The most difficult decision was to furlough our team and decide to raise a second part to our first round to make sure we could go as far as we could and be ready when the time of our series A comes.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and hotelbreak in the Future?
Maxime Renaudin: When I’m not working or thinking of hotelbreak, I’m playing and cuddling with my baby, so I think it’s the best anti-stress and anxiety thing to do, even though it can also bring its challenges. I truly think the company can and will become a big European player to establish a new way to enjoy hotels.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Maxime Renaudin: Our competitors are gift voucher vendors, but we don’t see them as competitors because we don’t address the same need at all. They are here for people struggling to find a gift when we are here to truly upgrade people’s life with daycations in the best hotels.
Your Final Thoughts
Maxime Renaudin: There’s no good or perfect moment to start a business from an idea; you just need to go and try it.
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