Edial tells me he's had a lot of failures in the past, he said "We did all kinds of crazy side projects, like a fail conference, a Twitter printer, crazy data visualizations and a huge conference about the future of cities".
His latest startup, Gidsy already has investments from the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Index Ventures and Peter Read and looks anything like a side project, with a total investment of $1.2M.
How did the idea for Gidsy come about?
Gidsy comes from a very personal need for a service like this. During university and before moving to Berlin, I was a cook for 5 years. When I moved to Berlin, I liked the idea of making a mushroom risotto from local, wild, mushrooms. After coming home with a full bag, I had not idea which ones are edible. Then, I started looking for someone who could show me where to find mushrooms, and teach me which ones you can eat. Unfortunately, I could not find anyone.
I wondered why, and realized how difficult it is to offer a service like that. There are so many people around the world with incredible knowledge and skills, but they are inaccessible to most people. It’s incredible hard to find something exciting to do. So what if you bring these two things together… Then you have Gidsy, a place where anyone can explore, offer and book things to do.
What were you doing before you started the company?
Together with my brother Floris and two friends, we were running an interactive design studio. But we did all kinds of crazy side projects, like a fail conference, a Twitter printer, crazy data visualizations and a huge conference about the future of cities. Besides those things, we also initiated a lot of things around open government data.
What is Gidsy?
In short, Gidsy is a place where anyone can explore, offer and book things to do. We have a pilot in Berlin who offers sight seeing tours in his small plane, we have a blacksmith in London where you can create a silver ring that you can take home and we have a retired police officer in the Red Light District of Amsterdam who offers walking tours around his old neighbourhood. It’s super exciting to see how people are using the platform in so many different ways. And this is only just the beginning I think.
What are you trying to solve with Gidsy?
We’re answering the question what to do, by making it really easy for people to organize things. Booking is really fast and creating a listing only takes a few minutes.
Talk me through the first few months of running the business? What would you say was the hardest part of starting the business?
One of the hardest parts is staying focussed. There are so many things happening around the same time, that its often easy to get lost in details or things that have no high priority. The only thing you do not have when you are a startup is time, so being very efficient is really important.
How were you able to fund the business?
We had some savings that helped us through the first months. We had a design studio before, so we could use that money too. You don’t need a lot of money to start a company. There’s so many frameworks and services out there to get started and have a prototype up fast. There are really no good excuses to not start building your dream today. After we ran out of money, we raised our seed funding and got some great people together.
Would you say the initial idea for the company, or that your business model has changed since starting the company?
We’ve only been around for 5 months, so we’re still very young. We learnt a lot, and have changed some things here and there. There are a lot of big things coming though. Our business model is very simple, and we do not think about it that much, we have to focus on our product and more important things in this stage.
What would you say has been some of the most crucial that you've done to build the company to this level now?
Building up a team of insanely talented people has been crucial. It takes a lot of time, and it’s hard work, but it’s probably the most important thing you can do. I believe that it is important today, but just as important in the future too.
Is the business profitable?
We’re not quite there yet, but that would also be impossible with a model like we have. Profit is something we’re not focussing on. We have a big vision where we want to go, and our priorities lie somewhere else.
What’s been your most memorable moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
Having real people using your product is extremely rewarding. It helps you to understand why you are doing it, but also to improve your product. I go to Gidsy activities all the time, and really love organizing things to.
What pieces of advices could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Be curious, get the right people around you and start making something today.
What can we be expecting from you and Gidsy in 2012?
A lot of stuff. We’ve been working on a bunch of exciting features we are releasing soon, but are also planning to launch in other regions. We really want to become the destination when you’re looking for something to do anywhere in the world.