Magnus is the co-founder and Chairman of Innovation Dock. He shares his true passion for visionary and innovative thinking and leads Innovation Dock to become the no. 1 hub of innovative growth companies in Stavanger. Read his thoughts about travel industry and being a mentor!
What are the things that your are the best in?
Find exciting projects and make them fly. I’m definitely a starter. I have a driving force for work in a chaotic environment. When the startup phase is over, I let others take over.
What is your favourite way of travelling?
By foot with others. Boat in the summer.
What are you working on right now?
I’m delivering a safehouse for tourists going to the Pulpit rock in Stavanger. Check out our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/myboxnorge
Which traveltech areas are the most promising in your opinion?
Exploring the nature of living in small micro houses with smart infrastructure; powered by solar panels and other sustainable solutions.
What was the funniest moment in your professional life?
When my partner fell of an imaginary air balloon and broke his toe while wearing Oculus VR.
What is your motto?
“There is always time to do what you can not miss!”
What is the biggest challenge in travel industry right now?
Not destroying nature! Many are traveling to the same spots and too few regulations affect the experience. If you are on a great hike, do you really want to be bombarded by sellers that push you all kinds of crappy stuff?
Why is it fun to be a mentor?
It is extremely satisfying to help others follow their dream and see them succeed.
Why Innovation Dock is the coolest innovative growth company in the world?
Because we ramp up the construction industry by redefining how you work and connect in the office.
Meet Marcus at Startup Weekend Travel! Get tickets at stockholm.up.co!
What was the funniest moment in your professional life?
Which traveltech related startups have you worked with?
What is your motto?
How do you imagine treveltech in 10 years?
It will change our lives in ways that are impossible to imagine, but I think traveltech in general will accomodate people’s desire to combine lifestyles, or even create fundamentally new ones.
What would you change in today’s travel industry?
What is cool in being the mentor of Startup Weekend?
What is your favourite place on Earth?
How do you like to travel?
How do you help the world understand Digital?
Why is Katapult a cool place to work for?
Lina works in the field of business development at SJ mainly in their corporate programme SJ Biz that deals with corporate clients of SJ. She has been working for SJ since 2010 and know everything about customer relations and techniques.
How do you foster innovation at SJ? How can a 160 years old corporation innovate?
Not all people are 160 years old who are working here, so I guess this is something that helps. We are not afraid to change but it surely is not easy as the industry is quite conservative. There is a long way between the traditional operation of a travel company and the adaptation of innovative ideas, but we are ready for the challenge.
We work together with Epicenter in Stockholm – and we try to cooperate with people who have great ideas that we can deploy. There is a lot to do in travel industry and we need to have help from other people who are not directly working in this field so they have a fresh eye for it.
How do you incorporate these innovations?
We get a lot of ideas and we try to go with the great ones. We have a business development department but they don’t handle all the initiatives alone so other departments deal with these too. The business development owns the SJ Labs concept too. We have a few interesting initiatives. For example in March we started to organise SJ Epitrain – it is a train on the Stockholm – Gothenburg line where new technnology and businesses can showcase their ideas and apps on the train. There is wifi, a lot of people and these people have a lot of time while they are travelling, so we can allow them to try new things and help these ideas to grow in the same time. We work a lot to find ideas what could be done during travelling – apart from travelling.
Can startups participate in this and bring their ideas to be tested on the train?
Sure, we had 4 startups on the train from Epicenter last time, so: yes, we are open to the startup communities! We need to do this a lot more and cooperate more with the entrepreneurs and startups. With us they can grow really big on the market.
How do you want to do this?
We have a concept, SJ Labs, where we do this with students. There are trains that can be taken 3-4 times a year where entrepreneurs can come and try new things with us and can apply with their technologies through our app.
What kind of technologies are you looking for?
Now we are dealing with a technology that eliminates receipts and facilitates transactions to buy train tickets and make these completely seamless. The application sees your calendar and offers tickets according to your schedule. So if you have a meeting in Gothenburg, then you get a notification that asks you if you would like to book your ticket now in the easiest way possible. You click yes and the transaction is done.
Also we are working on things to do on the train.
Which traveltech areas are you most excited about?
I am very excited about the hyperloop systems – that you can take this train and go anywhere really fast and safe – it will be really great!
The SJ Biz future customer offering and corporate program are very exciting for me. Also we are working on a biochip project that is really interesting.
Why is SJ a great company to work with?
Because it has a great reach and many passengers. It is a digital frontrunner in the industry and offers a sustainable alternative of travel. It is customer driven and also open for the cooperation with entrepreneurs.
How do you like to travel the most?
I commute with high speed train every day and I would never take the car for my daily trips. I also need to get to the train stations – I would love to take electric cars to do this. I don’t think we will have other than electric cars in the future.
Which kind of technologies would you like to work with on Startup Weekend?
I will sit with my boss tomorrow and will discuss this question. I work with the business part, a B2B platform. We see that the digitalization is ongoing with the B2C customers, but the B2B arena is to be digitized and facilitated by technologies too.
Do you have a favourite travel destination?
I came from the north of Sweden so I love to go there. There is a lot of snow in winter and I love to be there and to calm down.
If you could change anything in the world what would you do?
I would clean the air from toxins. And I would make everyone happy with my smile.
What are the areas that you are the best in?
I have worked a lot with customers – my whole carrier was built upon that. So that is my strength – I know how they think and I know how to be customer driven. That is very important for all businesses.
Why are you looking forward to be the mentor of Startup Weekend?
I think it will be a great fun and I am looking forward to the energy that comes from the co-creation of new ideas that try to change the world. I think this is very positive and it is great to work with entrepreneurs!
I think it will be very inspirational and I’m looking forward to see new ideas. And it will be great to just turn the energy level up and be creative together.
Do forming startups have the opportunity to get in touch with you and work together with you in the future?
Of course, all my colleagues are enthusiastic about it and I am sure we can go on working with startups that have a great potential and could serve good solutions. They can randomly approach us with ideas and we’ll see what is going to happen. For example I met a few guys at Epicenter with chip implants, they said that it would be so great if SJ would be the first company to launch t ticket on the chip. This really got me excited and back at the office I started working on a solution with my colleagues. Thanks to close cooperation with some of the entrepreneurs and experts in the field that we met through Epicenter, the development has been fast and led to customer friendly solution. We will launch the solution on the 17th of May, but I can’t tell more before the public launch. We will be the first travel company in the world that uses biohacking to replace ordinary tickets.
How do you see the travel industry in 5-10 years?
I think that the biggest change will be that there are going to be more and more people travelling in Sweden and all around the world too. The people will be more and more individualistic and they don’t want to pay extras for additional services.
AI is going to be big in many senses, but these technologies can be used in customer services too.
What is your motto?
I am a very positive person, so my motto is this: “Nothing lasts forever, not even your problems.”
Why should anyone attend Startup Weekend?
The whole travel industry is growing rapidly. Digitalization has started to transform the industry, but in some areas there is still a lot to be done. And we have to do it!
Travel is both fun and important part in many people’s lives, in business, commuting and tourism. We want to make it easier for everyone and Startup Weekend can be a great place to start.
Come to see the light by the end of the tunnel with Lina and hop on their train for user testing! Come to Startup Weekend, register here: stockholm.up.co!
Sini works for BRA – Braathens Regional Airlines as a Distribution Development Specialist. She is constantly looking for new solutions and manages their cooperation with Amadeus. She acts as an innovation manager/business developer who tries to keep herself up to speed with the trends and keep an eye on what other airlines do.
How do you foster innovation at BRA?
There are a lot of new things coming from the sales department and then I try to fit them into the airline standards. We are constantly looking for new things to sell outside of our core airline business.
How do you cooperate with Amadeus?
We changed our host system from HP to Amadeus about a year ago and I have worked in the airlines industry with Amadeus for the past 17 years. There is a daily connection between us and Amadeus. Working with them requires me to keep up with their developments and novelties.
Do you have connections with startups?
No, not yet. I haven’t worked with startups before, but we would like to incorporate new ideas and cooperate with startups in the future if possible. BRA is small enough to be able to do that.
Which technologies would you like to work with the most on Startup Weekend?
Definitely fares distribution and distribution in general.
What are you the best in? What kind of questions would you like to answer during Startup Weekend?
I’m really good at handling a lot of data, I’m very thorough and a quick learner.
I worked for the airline industry for the last 17 years so I know this area inside out. This weekend is more about challenging the existing systems. I am very much in an „airline box”. So if there would be questions for example like this: „Would this work in the airline industry? How would airlines work with this today? What are the limitations in the airline industry according to the aviation law?” Laws can raise some boundaries for new technologies. Of course I believe that everything can be done… but maybe not today, but in the future.
Do you like to fly? How do you like to travel and where?
Yes, I still do. I like to fly when it comes to long distances and of course I fly with BRA, but outside Sweden I like British Airways the most.
On shorter distances I prefer to bike.
Me and my husband do adventure travelling, so I have been in Mt Everest base camp twice, on Kilimanjaro and this January and February I was on the Galapagos Islands. So I have had a lot of adventures and I like to challenge myself physically too. I was not a backpacker, but I met my husband and he convinced me to try it and took me to Nepal. And I completely fell in love with it, I’m just longing to get back there constantly.
How do you imagine travelling in the close future?
I’m not a big fan of cars. In Stockholm I think people should bike more, I have commuted to work by bike for years – less stress and good exercise! More electric cars would be great too. I think the biggest change in airlines industry will be that we move towards environmentally friendly fuels, expand the usage of biofuels.
There are also a lot of new aircraft models that are more quiet and environmentally friendly than those that we use today. In the future they shall be more commonly used than today.
Does BRA plan to expand outside of Scandinavia?
We have flights only inside Scandinavia, but sure we are planning to cover more areas. We need other aircraft types to do that. We do have charters flights e.g. to Austria and Germany.
What was your most interesting experience in your professional life?
I worked for British Airways for 11 years and one of the most exciting stories occurred when I was flying together with one of the head of engineering from Helsinki. On our way to London he told me what every single sound of the aircraft was for. It was very interesting to understand what the different noises in the aircraft mean. It was great to get into an area that I was not familiar with before.
What are you the most passionate about?
I am constantly developing myself and learn new things. I’m longing to learn more and more. I’d love to do more adventure travelling, more challenges.
Why are you looking forward to Startup Weekend?
This is a new experience and it will be interesting to see people who can think outside the box. We have been working in this industry for a long time, so we are in our airlines box and it is fun to talk with other people who have been out of this world and can think differently.
Test the feasibility of your ideas with Sini on the Stockholm Startup Weekend Travel Edition, 12-14, May! Get your tickets here!
He is also there for you if you feel like enhancing your acrobatic skills or if you want to get an enthusiastic and instant feedback on your business ideas on Startup Weekend Travel!
What does Vinnova do?
I have been working for Vinnova in the past 6 years and my job is to help fund innovation projects. More specifically: the commercialization of Swedish projects – to help drive sustainable growth in Sweden. There is a very broad range of things that we can do within this space of innovation financing, but we are also limited to investing in projects where the innovation risk is so high that traditional financing is difficult or impossible to arrange. The potential impact of Vinnova can be huge within this area – we could fund the next Spotify, the next ABB or anyone.
Why do people work with Vinnova?
As an entrepreneur I never would have applied to Vinnova. I am an entrepreneur myself, I have had seven companies. The weird thing is that if we think about governmental financing, we worry about very complicated applications, slow processes, people evaluating the applications not knowing so much about the unique technologies and innovations themselves, etc. But it turns out to be completely different in my experience at Vinnova. Oftentimes one could expect it to be too hard to get governmental financing and the even if you get it, the reporting might be too complicated and time consuming to be worth the money that you receive, or you might get a crazy governmental bureaucrat (me! lol) disturbing your business and constantly giving advice you feel you have to follow… but these things generally don’t happen here, which I’m so happy to say.
From a public sector context, we are lightning fast: from the submission deadline to receiving the funding generally takes about three months – only 3 months! I know this can feel like a long time for exciting young startups but even for them it can feel fast, if their strategic planning is right. 3 months is usually within the burn rate of reasonable companies looking to change the world, so we’re totally worth a shot, especially as it’s pretty much a fire-and-forget application. As we are a governmental institution, all applications must be treated exactly the same. You send in your application, keep doing what you do and 3 months later you either get the money or you don’t. This can have a really huge impact and set fire to your rocket ship boosters in your quest to change the world. And did I mention that we pay our funding up-front? Cash is king, as they say, and we don’t force companies to incur costs and then submit receipts to us which greatly simplifies things for the companies. Not to mention that we also fund salaries, which isn’t always the case with early-stage and seed-level financing.
What is your job?
My job is often to help fund entrepreneurs’ dream scenarios. These amazing opportunities are often also the best investment opportunities for Sweden so it’s an incredible win-win all the way around. So as you can imagine, it can be a pretty terrific place to work – especially as my job is essentially to help you become as successful as possible. Sure, some of the entrepreneurs think that three months are too long for our decisions. They need the money now and can be frustrated from that. But if you understand who we are, why we exist and you submit a strong application within the theme or that has the effect that we are working to fund – it’s almost unlimited what you can do!
My personal dream is to feel that we are more closely aligned as partners with Sweden’s entrepreneurs, change agents and public and private sources of financing. I honestly believe that together we can all help build financing strategies that help promising companies and innovations come all the way to market where they can have the greatest impact for all of society and where they can do the most good. Call me blue-eyed, but I believe in human nature and in the amazing things people can do together.
What are your superpowers?
My nickname is AlwaysHappyTony, so it definitely has to be optimism. I honestly think the best of the world and that something good can be gleaned from just about everything. It is a choice. Whether on the small scale, or large, we can all chose to do something with that. This is why I love working with Vinnova because we have the opportunity to seek out potential and opportunity when others shy away because the risks are too great. I hesitate to say ‘only in Sweden’, but it does feel like such a Swedish thing to offer faith, support and trust to those who just *might* be able to change the world and to bring about something new. To all of you who try; my hat’s off to you.
Speed would be another one which is absolutely needed here as we receive 6-7 thousand applications every year so we don’t have time deeply research each of the concepts presented to us. So we must be able to understand things fast enough to help guide the processes to the best results possible. (And we rely heavily on external evaluators for their specific technology and industry expertise).
Confidence is the third – in working for Vinnova I don’t have an agenda, which is amazing! Essentially, my only task is to help Sweden and her inhabitants improve as a society and to thrive, using the tools and opportunities provided to us within the ‘innovation system’. Whatever that means for you that is fine, I don’t need you to go one particular direction or another. That leads me to a tremendous amount of confidence. I am confident that my job is to help you succeed. If I would be a consultant on my own, then I would have to constantly work to make a sale. Here I don’t have to do that, so I can literally focus solely on what you need and how we can help you get there. And if I can’t help you directly, then I hopefully might find someone who can. This is where my conversations go basically – to understand quickly where you are and what you need, and to find the resources through my network to help you reach your goals, if at all possible.
Can anyone contact you with their ideas?
Absolutely! If you have a company and an innovation that has never been done before, then Vinnova may be able to help. See if there is anything on our website that sounds interesting, then call me or my colleagues.
We don’t help in starting up though. We exist to help fill the gap in an innovation being creatively discovered and the possibility to getting it actually to market. We help mitigate the risk in this case. When the risk is high enough, then the financial markets don’t work anymore and you can’t get a loan, investment or any funding that your company needs, but your concept is potentially valuable so it might be a billion dollar business. It is called the Valley of Death, which is the failure of the entire market system – this is the gap that Vinnova aims to fill – to correct the failure of the market system. Later when you actually will have a proof that your business is working, then the banks can fund you, the investors can give you a reasonable valuation, your friends and family can actually jump in for you and so on.
It might be your greatest dream to do this. If you are being rational with your own funding, then you need to make sure to have enough income to pay your rent. You need to make sure that your existing customers are happy enough to continue being your customers. And you also know that if you do your innovation, you might will be able to change travel industry, but you don’t have enough funds to realize that. Let’s say you only have a million kronas in your company and you can only cover the salaries of the people for the next three months with that. You can’t take a huge gamble on that by putting all your bet on your next idea. But we can help you with that, we pay salaries and all the costs that are related to this kind of activity. We literally pay for your lottery ticket.
Get your (lottery) ticket to Startup Weekend here: stockholm.up.co!
Lauris is just starting an innovation consultancy, and was until recently working with the global part of Telia Company. A place where they build products and services for the future of telecommunications. He helped project teams and management teams that innovate and evolve their ways of creating and delivering value for their customers and capturing value for the business by coaching and training.
Lauris helps his mentees to zoom out from just the product and help them innovate and create around more of a value proposition and more of the parts that needs to be in place for their stuff to work.
Is it fun to be a mentor?
Oh yes! I have been to a couple of startup weekends and hackathons before and there is lots of fun! Initially we used the Hackathon at Telia and Ericsson to build a platform for autonomy, which is proven to create motivation for people. I enjoy the traveltech area very much as we have to solve problems that everyone has. So I am really looking forward to mentor at Startup Weekend. As a mentor one might think you are alone, but I feel you are more surrounded by people who get very excited when they come to this temporary job to create something fantastic. You have only 54 hours and whatever you are up to, you always make fantastic progress. It is good to see where people can get to. Besides creating new things, I see them learn and create new connections. It’s like they build their own personal business models, where product development is only one part.
When helping teams, I like to think of the wall as the new desktop. We can create common space there for people to cooperate on problems, get a common visual language. I then give them the means – if they don’t have it already that is – to find the right things to do and what to do first. It’s like getting better at finding the right path to reach their destinations. Doing that in a visual way, brings them together on a common platform. It’s like you cannot divide work up and split into silos. The environment shapes that path.
In San Francisco the Startup Weekend event was organized together with the yearly Lean Startup Conference arranged by Eric Ries’ team. It was in October and November last year. A particular focus in this event was the extra weight on customer discovery. The rooms were small and it was like the teams felt relieved to get out of the building to interview and test with customer.
In Stockholm it looks like it’s going to be a thrilling diversity at the Startup Weekend, among the organizers and the participants, as well as us mentors. I like that.
Who have been your mentees?
One example from a large corporation is an IoT team that was aiming to make train transportation better by detecting damage very early. The whole ecosystem that needed to be in that cooperation was there – the consultants, the software company and even the innovator himself, besides the IoT team of course. One of the things that we were working on was the business model and how to set up the cooperation between all these people who can be seen as entrepreneurs in already huge companies.
A second example from the startup scene is a mobile app company that aims to help companies reach customers nearby. We have met a couple of times and it’s thrilling to see their endless source of energy as real early entrepreneurs in the search for a plan that will work and make them great.
And a third type of mentees are social entrepreneurs on a startup scene in Berlin. What’s interesting here is that even though they are non-profits they still need to have great value propositions embedded in great business models. They are – how unlikely as it sound at first – in a market full of competition: they are all compteting for the money from the donors. Because the donors want their money to turn into as much value as possible. So the Social entrepreneurs are also often happy mentees of business model coaching.
Last but not least, there are these cool startup teams in San Francisco, Tallinn, Stockholm, Stavanger, Berlin and more. These participants come as individuals and leave as teams. They come full of energy and leave fuelled with learnings and growth. Some of them even change their course of life. One team from Tallinn grew out of their market and moved to England within months.
Do you have a favourite traveltech area?
That’s a tough one. Starting somewhere, the sharing economy is getting bigger and bigger now. Look at Uber and AirBNB and the like. They are disruptors of older business models. But I’m sure that someone will disrupt these businesses as well. And that will happen faster than expected. So there must be something after that. So what would that be? Maybe some kind of traveltech?
Another perspective to this question is the vehicles. Railways are very interesting – there are trains where you have panoramic windows and you can see the landscape passing by and they has a chef in the car and own departments for the guests “upstairs”. Train related vacation sounds like an area that is under evolution, and maybe innovation.
Is there a bad question?
No. Feel free to ask me anything.
Do you have favourite travel destinations?
My travel destinations are different depending on the context.
In winter and there needs to be a place nearby, I pack my skis and go for cross-country skiing preferably in the northern of Sweden. There is where I clear my head and make my body work instead of my brain.
My favourite place going far away is New York – that’s a retreat for me. Just be there. Feel the pulse of that huge city where there is still warm and welcoming people. When I travel, I enjoy the terminal buildings too. I love to walk and explore, sit and drink a cappuccino and watch people running by – it makes me get refuelled and it is a sort of recreation for me, for example after day-long workshop. That goes for a lot of the stuff I do. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. As an entrepreneur I enjoy the search as much as the outcome.
Do you have a favourite vehicle?
The airplane. Definitely. It does not matter how bad the weather is, the sun always shines above the clouds.
Which superhero or film character do you have similarities with?
This is a really tough one. I would like to go for Batman. He has the resources and skills to make good for the society. He is generous, and he creates a vast amount of tech stuff. Especially his vehicles of different sorts and imaginary equipped. He is sort of an inventor super hero. And his words are comforting for innovators: “Why do we fall? So that you can learn to pick ourselves up”.
Magnus Burvall is the founder and CEO of Syntesia, an important contact to reach out to on Startup Weekend Travel!
Nothing drives him crazy, maybe the crush of his computer. He likes to work with honest people where mutual trust can be built. He is also pissed off when something does not work during his travels and he has to reschedule and reorganize his trips on the go.
Help Magnus reorganize his trips by finding new traveltech solutions on Startup Weekend Travel 12-14 May!
Do you have a role play name?
I don’t think I have any nicknames now, but as my family name is Burvall, some of my friends used to call me Burre.
Tell us about yourself! What are you good at?
I have a great ability to look into the future and see the paths of several scenarios and I am capable of orienting towards them. I am very curious and I try to learn and read as much as possible.
I am also a good analyst, as the name of my company suggests. Syntesia refers to the process where we tear the problem into pieces and then put pieces of the solutions together.
I am also creative and I can dream and find solutions that are great. I am also good at finding the good people for the roles that are needed in companies to reach the common goals.
I have more than 10 years of experience in working with startups with lean startup methodology as I worked in the Peak Region Science Park as well as in incubators and also have started a few companies. I have coached more than 50 companies.
What does Syntesia do?
Syntesia is a network company with a few experts and thought leaders. It helps entrepreneurs to succeed and fulfill their dreams. We work as an experts’ hub that brings in the expertise that is needed. We combine proven methods with our own learning experience and combine that with a positive and delivery oriented culture.
Do you travel to chill out?
When everything goes wrong, I like to do some sports to forget everything. Biking, playing golf, skiing – that is my medicine and I get fully energized by it.
What is your favourite vehicle now and what would it be in the future?
My mountain bike. It’s a little bit dangerous but it’s fun. I did a little bit of downhilling too, but injured my shoulder so I stick with mountain biking now. In the future it would be a time machine – I’d travel in time, rather than space. Back to the past and back to the future.
Why do you like traveltech?
There are lots of megatrends happening right now in traveltech as globalization and digitalization. Also, environmental concerns need to be taken care of. Many interesting things are happening, like the evolution of the sharing economy, which has just begun. There are many technologies that are also leaping forward: there is more intelligence now than ever before. We also need to solve the problem of environmental issues and reduce our footprints.
People are getting more and more mobile, gig economy is coming and there will be a lot of changes in the close future.
What has been your most interesting experience?
Maybe not the most interesting, but fun and a little weird. I was working with Scandinavian Airlines in a cost cutting programme. There used to be two spoons served together with the meals on the airplanes. I made an analysis on that and figured that they were spending 1 million kronas on two spoons and we could reduce this cost by half by serving only one spoon. This “innovation” was actually presented on the front side of SAS Magazine as a very effective cost cutting method and saved a lot of money, even though it was a very simple thing. 🙂
How do you feel about Startup Weekend?
I am particularly looking forward to Startup Weekend because I love new ideas and people and entrepreneurs and I hope we’ll have a wonderful event. As a mentor and coach I hope I can provide methods and models that help entrepreneurs to reach their goals. It gives me so much energy and I hope I can give some energy too. People should attend the event because it is a unique opportunity to work on ideas that can change their lives forever and get concentrated knowledge in an environment to meet new people who share the same visions and dreams. The mentors and coaches will concentrate on leveraging your dreams in just a weekend. I think that everyone will be amazed how far an idea can get during an intensive weekend like this.
He has spent almost 11 years in the travel industry. He started to work as a computer engineer in 1997 but since then he has grown to be the head of presales at Amadeus Scandinavia.
What are your superpowers, Danilo?
I have a good general understanding of the travel industry and what is „out there”. I try to keep up with all technology related news too, so I have a very good understanding of the trends and what is going on in general, including startups and market dynamics. Besides I am quite good at thriving in chaos too and I love it when there are a lot of ideas and no order – I try to connect the dots in such environments.
I’m passionate about business development – to create new methods or use old ones to add value to a business. Now I’m working on chatbot technology that uses natural language processing – how we can gain scale and use it in customer service. We also have done a Mixed Reality proof of concept with HoloLens which has been fun to do as well.
What drives you crazy?
In my field there is nothing that pisses me off, all questions are good questions. When people have a negative attitude and think that something is not possible or they are referring to the establishment – that can piss me off.
Which areas do you think are the most promising in traveltech?
There are a lot of opportunities in AI, more specifically in machine learning. A lot of startups have already came up with ideas and the market is reacting positively to them.
Traveltech is very dynamic now and the most interesting field is related to big data. We need to crunch a lot of data to provide offers that did not exist before. Before this revolution we had to go to specific airlines where we had all the specific products, but now people are combining things in order to find more interesting and compelling offers to the customers. AI can also be added to all these services.
Adding a finance layer to travel is another option: it leads to a new set of products to guarantee a fare on a given flight for example or to predict how much it is going to cost, etc. It is also important how blockchain technology can be applied in travel as well as loyalty programs, bags tracking and virtual and augmented reality are very exciting areas too. We see where it is going and even though it is in a very early stage and has not struck a mass market, it has a more and more important role in the close future for sure. A company in Japan already offers virtual tours in stores so you can handle your shopping from your home. In travel, you can reach information in 3D on touristic attractions before you even go there. The devices are getting cheaper and cheaper as well.
Which one is your favourite place on Earth?
My hideaway would be a cabin in the middle of nowhere. It would be my dream house. I don’t have it due to some private reasons. It would be like the house in the film Ex Machina, but maybe a bit smaller.
Do you have a favourite vehicle or future vehicle?
Having a fully functional self-driving that can take you to hyperloop systems would be great.
Why are you excited about Startup Weekend?
I am very excited to meet a lot of new people and to see what people are thinking and what ideas they can come up with.
Travel is huge and it continues to grow. Even when there is a crisis, people continue to travel and big companies can’t even handle the huge demand. It is becoming easier and easier to be able to contribute because complexity is being simplified and is opening up: we see a lot of APIs and it is a very exciting time to try out travel.
Tatiana works with business development and innovation management at Amadeus. It means that she is engaged both in internal and open innovation. They are constantly getting ideas from the market and from startups.
Amadeus is connecting travel marketplaces with each other. They connect, for example, airlines with travel agencies, airports and rail companies with the travellers. Amadeus is a B2B company, but their services are mostly used when you do a flight reservation in Skyscanner. Most of the searches go through Amadeus’ system, so they are literally the Google for travel.
Tatiana has participated and won a Startup Weekend Fintech with her team in January. Now she comes back as a mentor to teach you how she did it!
How is life at Amadeus?
I have been working here for 6 years and it has been an amazing journey. In the beginning I was focused mostly on business development and I shifted more and more towards innovation. I am really excited about this area. Scandinavia is a very innovative market and there are very strong startup communities. Also, the travellers here are the most techie people in the world. Scandinavians are the people who travel the most, so it makes this market full of potentials. I am looking forward to see more and more startups popping up in Sweden.
Which one is your favourite place on Earth?
It is Northern Spain, because of its amazing nature which is not spoiled by tourism 🙂
Do you have a favourite vehicle?
My favourite vehicle is a plane if I need to get there by plane, but then it would be a bike or a sailing boat. I just have to get over my sea sickness on the first day.
You participated in the last Startup Weekend Fintech edition, how was it?
I loved the experience as everybody was so positive and supportive around the ideas. You will have incredible support and advice and you will work on the idea for 54 hours non-stop – where else would you have such an opportunity? Apart from that, you will also get an amazing network.
The mentorship team from Amadeus will help participants with our industry insights, mentorship and technology as well as we will help you to test your ideas and validate yours assumptions with our customers that is a key step for startups. We can also provide some help from our innovation lab and from the head of ventures as we have a venture company investing in startups. So, seize this opportunity! Amadeus takes this event very seriously. You should too!
Where are the needs to innovation in traveltech?
If we only bet on the customer needs as of today, then it would get difficult to scale because probably thousands of other companies are already on the market. But if you are aiming at the area that is going to scale and is emerging now, for example virtual reality, blockchain or AI, then you will find a great potential. We all know that future is almost here.
What is your advice to anyone who considers starting up a company in travel?
Choose an emerging technology and the customer need that this technology can satisfy to create a strong company!
Do it at Stockholm Startup Weekend Travel, 12-14 May!
We made a short interview with one of our mentors, Jesper Söderström. He has been the general manager and director of Amadeus and he knows exactly how to make people get out of their comfort zones!
What are you good at?
I am good at seeing trends, understanding complexity and customer challenges and turning them to business ideas. My strength is in business development, understanding customer needs and how we can keep the focus on the customers. Also, I know how to turn the organization into an establishment that keeps the customers in focus along with the online or offline requirements and the new or old technology in mind – I am good at defining the set-up in all these aspects.
Is there anything that upsets you?
Very few things pisses me off at work. There are no bad questions, all questions are asked for a reason.
Do you have a favourite place to travel to?
My place in Mallorca where I have a wonderful view.
How long have you worked in your field?
I am 50 years old, so that is 50 years of experience… I spent around 20-25 years in the industry.
Which traveltech area is the most promising?
There are three areas that are going to completely change the industry: The first one is mobile and its effects, the second is AI. We can also mention the link of traveltech to fintech.
The most interesting technology in travel is probably the peer to peer technology – it has a lot of new structures and a lot of new ways of doing things. Another field is the implication of the mobile and the way it affects how we do things and how we attract customers. I believe that we haven’t even seen the start of it yet. IT allows everybody to be disruptive and this is extremely interesting to see how the old structures are challenged and how the whole industry is about to change.
Why is Amadeus a cool company?
Amadeus is a cool company because it keeps surprising me and keeps reinventing itself. When we started it looked very, very, different than what it looks now. And when I explain the company to someone, I do it in a completely different way than how I did just two years ago. I think that not many „old” companies can that. We might seem to be old, but it is does not apply to our attitude.
Do you have a nickname or fantasy name? How do your colleagues call you when you are not around?
I don’t have any nicknames, I have never really had one. I don’t want to know how my colleagues call me behind my back. I’d maybe be Fantomen – the Phantom – or Superman. If there was a hero that can get the best out of other people – I want to be that one.
Are you excited to be the mentor of Startup Weekend?
Yes, I am excited about being the mentor of Startup Weekend because it will be interesting to see people who are not held back by old experiences and old truths and see everything with fresh ideas – I am really looking forward to see this.
I think that Startup Weekend is a fantastic opportunity to try out new ideas and to meet new people. Even if you don’t make a viable startup out of it, you will have a fantastic inspiration. I don’t work often on weekends, but I look forward to this one.
What was the craziest thing that you have done in your professional life?
The craziest thing that I have done in my working place was when I danced ballet in front of my whole staff in order to show that we have to go out of our comfort zones. I was definitely out of mine.
Meet Jesper on Startup Weekend Travel! Get your tickets today at stockholm.up.co !