Interview with Pascal Kuehnhenrich
Pascal Kühnhenrich has many years of management experience from the global agency group Ogilvy. After leaving in 2016, he founded the start-up Kite BnB
, an Air BnB for kitesurfers. Swease
joined in 2017 - a digitally synchronizing VR calendar.
Where is the future of tourism for you? How do you think the tourism industry will change in the near future?
I think there are three points about this topic. The first is artificial intelligence artificial intelligence more and more take over the way you plan, book. organize and do your journey. It will do anything and be around like a like a private travel agent 24/7. As I know there is a startup called ‘Code Loader’ which is from one of the Kayak founders. They are very close to launch the first artificial intelligence app for Ios. The next is a second trend is growing demand for personalized travel experiences. This is an ongoing trend that people understand themselves more and more for travellers and not for the tourists. And major booking platforms like Air BnB, for example, are anticipating this trend and they if you watch it their Website you will notice that they're recently switching more and more from a booking platform to what's an experienced provider. Actually, they don't even provide, they don't even show a search bar. And last but not least is the rise of digital nomads or nomadism thanks to digitization. People are more and more independent they can work from wherever they want and whenever they want. And yeah that makes people completely independent and travel industry has to adapt to this, for example providing cool co-working spaces.
Did the idea for Swease originate from Kite BnB? What sets you apart from other VR calendar providers, and what is your USP?
OK. Yes to site shortly Swease is a spin-off startup from KiteBnB because many hosts are listing their properties not just on one platform but more on two of three platforms but at the same time they are struggling and have problems to synchronize their booking calendars and that's when we said okay we should spend some thoughts on this. Many of those hosts managing their calendars manually by hand because they are stressed by recent synchronization tools of property management systems because they are really really complex and expensive, which is totally fine, totally perfect for more professional who's who listing a lot of properties on a lot of platforms but for the majority of those who are just having one or two properties and listing on two or three platforms it is quite too much. So Swease is a makeup word it says ‘sync with ease’ and that's where our USP and uniqueness is. It makes a sinking Vacation Rental calendar's as easy and as cost-effective so that every host no matter if professional or private, no matter of digital nerd or a total beginner, anyone can benefit from the ease of digital vacation rental calendar sinking.
What are the main services offered by your startup?
Well actually Kite BnB is a booking platform for kite surfers that provides a global offer of accommodations and the basic idea behind this is that kitesurfers are like-minded people and making it easy to find an appropriate accumulation but very soon we are going to come up with a new concept was a slightly new concept and it's a slightly new website. So stay tuned. Follow us on Facebook or visit our website on a regular basis. The new Kite BnB as the community marketplace dedicated to creating authentic and individual travel experiences. We will focus on quality and on experiences for kite surfers and windsurfers. We will always provide handpicked accommodations and the best kitesurfing destinations around the world. That means that every property will be inspected by a local guy alongside a local destination manager so that we can ensure that really every single accommodation is suited for the needs of kite and windsurfers. If we put more effort into providing individual officers following the demand of our customers that goes from a budget apartment upmarket to a five-star hotel. So new site will be launched soon. stay tuned and follow Kite BnB on Facebook.
What initially inspired you to found Kite BnB?
Well, to be honest, the simple truth is ice cream, yes ice cream can be very inspiring. It was a beautiful spring day and I was sitting in front of our local ice cream parlour and was enjoying strawberry ice cream I think. And then at the next door, I was reading the advertisement that was saying room for rent as I was sitting there and spending my thoughts about where I would want to spend my first kitesurfing trip. And at the same time, I was thinking about going for rent. Both sites were running around in my head. And yeah I felt that my brain was trying to tell me something but I couldn't fix it and didn't know what really the point was. And then I already started to get kind of dizzy. But after I got it my brain wanted to tell me you silly idiot, did you ever spent some thoughts about home sharing for kite surfers and I said yeah brilliant. So I talked to my partner and he liked the idea too. And a couple of days later we founded Kite BnB and since then he and I went through a lot of ups and downs in the entrepreneur life.
What made you decide to quit your position at Ogilvy?
Hello everybody. My name is Pascal, I'm a co-founder, entrepreneur. Actually, I'm a co-founder of two startup companies, one is Kite BnB and the other one is Swease which you will hear more about later. The first question is what made you decide to quit your position at Ogilvy. Well, that's very easy and honest to answer because I've been in advertising and communications for more than 20/25 years something like that. And you can imagine that after such a long time we feel like kind of sick and tired from always doing the same although it is really interesting. And yeah it was really a good time. But yeah I was I was just hungry to do something new something else and I was looking for something that motivates and inspires me again. And yes having that said it was quite a logical step to put things together that I love the most, that it's, on the one hand, my passion for kitesurfing windsurfing surfing the for being at the ocean and on the other hand my passion for communication, digital marketing, advertising. Put those things together and you get the ingredients for the first startup, Kite BnB. I have to say that my time at Ogilvy was a really great experience. I'm really thankful because I learnt a lot of things and a lot of valuable things that are really good and important for my startups that I can use in terms of marketing and communication. But the most important thing is that I met my wife at Ogilvy, thanks for that Ogilvy.
You have four years of experience in establishing your own startups. What are the biggest lessons you've learned during your time as an entrepreneur?
Well, there are a couple of lessons. I think there are four important lessons that I've learned. The first is that things always turn out to be different than correct and it will always be harder, it will always take longer time and it will always cost more money and effort than you ever planned than you've ever imagined. And as an entrepreneur, you have to deal with this and to learn to accept setbacks because there will always be setbacks. If you don't bring a certain quantity of resilience you won't be successful. Not a lot in this to accept which is a concept. If you see that your concept doesn't work make a change and try it again, try something else, it doesn't mean to build a new completely new product but make a slight switching strategy into your concept. Probably not because it can mean a restart or a relaunch of your product but it probably saves you from failing. The next is going to market with a minimum value of a product. Don't use all your influence and try to make and start with a perfect product. It doesn't even exist. The perfect product doesn't exist. Go with an MVP. Use the feedback from the market and develop your product step by step. And the last but not least but very important, don't waste your time with assholes. You've chosen to be an entrepreneur because you want to make the best of your life. You want to fulfil a dream and assholes are sucking your energy and sucking your time. Make sure that you are surrounded by like-minded people.