Tine Thygsen is the co-founder and former CEO of Everplaces, a user-generated travel app that lists the locations’ best places to sleep, eat and play. Started in 2011, it is currently used in 135 countries.
How did you come up with this business idea?
We came up with the idea for Everplaces because we, ourselves, were in need of a product that enabled us to get tips for restaurants and travel and organize them in a way so that we could find them again. At the same time, we were fascinated by growth of mobile phones, so it was the obvious choice to build up a concept around how travel information would change in the mobile age.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
In the beginning, we didn’t have a technical co-founder. So I started reaching out to the contacts I had and one was a perfect fit. Christoffer Kaalund was an entrepreneur I had met at a startup weekend. He was a techie with a superb entrepreneurial mindset and wanted to do something even more ambitious. So after a long period of working part time, some trial and error and discussions on how to split the shares, he finally joined us. Shortly thereafter, we hired an additional programmer with the money we had brought into the company ourselves.
How has the journey been so far?
It takes longer than most people imagine to create a company, first a year with finding team members and building the first alpha version, then launching it, then rebuilding and coming out with a proper version. Then it gets really hard because when you have to go to market.
We had to try and reach people who loved travelling, cool restaurants and 'those special places' all over the world. As we had a small budget, this called for creativity and very hard work. We finally made it and the product is used in 135 countries today. I am stoked about this and grateful to our early users. But the journey never ends, there is always more to do.
How did becoming an entrepreneur changed you personally?
Being exposed to risk over a long period - in my case, eight years now - makes you realize that it isn’t really that dangerous and the downside is not really as terrible as you first thought. I mean you won't die, no one will get physically hurt, you won't have to live on the street if you fail, not in Denmark at least, where we have a welfare system. If you keep this in mind, risk can make you more relaxed, enable you to try more and push yourself further. So personally it has enabled me to live life more fully.
Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?
Everyone has something they are great at and almost everyone is better when they are motivated and working on 'their thing'. So while being an entrepreneur is very hard work, it is worth it for me because a lot of it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I am making a difference, building things, enjoying flexibility and training myself to be better. You don’t have to start from scratch to experience this, you can join a startup as an employee and try another way of working.
Sparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in top Indian media companies, he came to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.