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 !