Moritz Wobith, an entrepreneur with a Business Degree at one of the German “Ivy League Universities” – the “Zeppelin University”, a TikTok channel with 5M+ views, and a lot of marketing experience. In addition, he is the host of the GrowUp Podcast where he speaks with successful Founders about mistakes they’ve made for the purpose of allowing his listeners to learn from them. He was born into a traveler family and his parents have been working in the travel industry for 30+ years. Moritzs’ role at Travelwell is that of the CEO.
In the Summer of 2020, the three founders wanted to go on vacation but were extremely frustrated that planning travels with friends had a lack of structure. They weren’t able to decide for the time period and furthermore they needed to use so many different features which, on balance, did not make it any easier to plan the trip, although this is actually their job. And that is how Travewell came to be.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Moritz Wobith: My whole entrepreneurial story began in elementary school. My father was abroad from time to time on business trips and always brought me back unusual chewing gum from there. Since the other children never knew these chewing gums, the demand for them was always endless, so that after a short time I already had no more chewing gums left. When I became aware of this, the most logical thing for me to do was to sell those gums if I wanted to have some myself. So on my father’s next trip, I asked him to bring some more. After I had spread the news in the school, everyone outbid each other and that in turn drove the prices up to 10 times the purchase price. After this experience, I was simply fascinated by the supply and demand principle and needed to know more about it.
In the following years, this pattern had repeated itself a few times and at this point, I sold self-designed clothes with friends. After graduating from high school, I came into contact with founders and the infinite possibilities of solving problems for the first time at Zeppelin University. This fascination to be my own boss, the process of being a founder, the possibility to tackle and solve problems directly, showed me very clearly that employment was out of the question for me. The most important thing here will always be that I want to do what I love. This, in my opinion, allows me to grow myself, become visionary, and really solve problems.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Moritz Wobith: Yes, definitely. That person was my grandpa. My grandpa grew up in Germany shortly after World War II and had to struggle through various incredibly difficult post-war problems until he graduated as a civil engineer. For his studies, unlike his fellow students, he sacrificed free time and student life out of ambition and will. He studied simply because he loved what he was doing and to become the best, which he then succeeded in doing. For this behavior, the way he treated his fellow man, and the ability to leave his own negative thought patterns behind, I appreciate my grandpa very much! I am also incredibly grateful to my parents, because they are the people in my life who always give me hope and, no matter what I do, always stand behind me. Just when your own son has his vision to change the world to make it a better place, it can be difficult for some parents to support their son. But not so for my parents!
This behavior from all three people inspires me every day. Their behavior is the best support I could ask for, and I am grateful that I get the support from the people I truly love.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Moritz Wobith: The most common mistake I see (and have made myself in the past) is developing a product without talking to potential customers beforehand. Many entrepreneurs fall in love with their product too quickly and develop it further in the belief that people will use it. However, forget about quantifying this hypothesis. This often results in products that are certainly technically satisfactory but have no benefit for customers. And for this reason, no buyers are then found for the products. For all those who are currently working on a product: Don’t forget to find out the real pain points. If you do not do this, you will lose important time and usually also money.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Moritz Wobith: In my opinion, resilience is one of the most important qualities founders must-have in today’s world. For me, resilience is dealing with negative events and not letting them get you down. Especially in such a dynamic situation as with Covid-19, it is more important than ever to stay calm and show foresight. Because we have this foresight with Travelwell, we have developed particularly strongly during the pandemic, have been able to carry out many tests, and have been able to adapt our long-term strategy.
We see the pandemic as more of an opportunity for us to disruptively change the long-established travel industry and create something new and contemporary from the ground up. The travel industry we saw in 2019 was overheated, in our opinion, and has now had its chill. While this cool down was harsher than most experts imagined, it was clear here that overheating had already occurred. It is precisely here that the art of a resilient manager is not to let these negative events get him down, but to see the situation as an opportunity and to look for ways out of this crisis.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Moritz Wobith: If you were to ask me, a great company needs all three. However, what matters most to us at Travelwell is our vision. The vision to become the world’s largest online travel agency shows where we want to go. I advocate that every founder needs a vision for themselves AND their business. This vision defines the overall goal, the dream. It serves to motivate, to dream, and most importantly to break free from one’s entrenched beliefs.
Since a vision is often very abstract, it is also important to formulate a mission from it. At Travelwell, our mission is to reinvent how people plan, book, and do travels. Such a mission shows how we want to put our vision into practice.
The third point is our values. Since we are working Full Remote at the moment, these are also particularly important to us. Our culture has 3 main topics: Honesty & Openness, Feedback, and Creativity.
From the beginning, we have established honesty and openness in the founding team. We believe that this way many inconsistencies can be prevented and also the handling of critical topics can be better addressed and discussed. We value direct feedback; this is why we love critics and constructive feedback. We believe that this is the most valuable part we can together do in discussions to create the world’s best online travel experience. Last but not least we love Creativity. If one person on our team wants to test or even implement a new feature we will support that! Our motto is “you might fail with your idea but that is okay as soon as you learn something from that.” For us not even trying is the worst and is no option at Travelwell.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Moritz Wobith: The most important quality for success is communication. If a leader fails to communicate or communicates incorrectly, serious misunderstandings can arise, which in turn can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration. By proper communication, I mean the ability to talk openly and honestly about problems, concerns, and mistakes. It is my job as CEO to ensure that this exchange takes place and thus promotes the corporate culture. Because if there is trust on the part of the employees in the corporate culture and the culture of open discussion, then in my opinion the potential of the employees can only really develop.
The second quality that I consider extremely important is to have a vision. Not only for the company but also for oneself. Because if you don’t have a vision, you will drift away and never really end up anywhere. It is important to understand that even a vision can adapt to the circumstances. In the case of Travelwell, our vision is to modernize and disrupt the travel market and become the world’s largest online travel agency.
The third quality I call perseverance. A founder’s journey is definitely not an overnight success, even though many news outlets like to call it that. The journey of a founder is a constant up and down and an ongoing process that includes many hurdles and problems. Only those who can pick themselves up despite everything and remain constantly motivated and focused will master the path as a founder. For this reason, perseverance is also an important part of being a leader.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Moritz Wobith: I believe that it is very beneficial if a personal brand reflects a company’s values. Let’s just look at Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. Those two are the perfect examples of how a personal brand can reflect company values. In the case of Travelwell, it is similar. We are still at the beginning of our journey, but even here I think it is important for customers to have a face from the person who represents the company to the outside world. This way we ensure that the vision of the company has a face and can be better embodied to the outside world. My social media background has taught me that people prefer to follow other people rather than abstract corporate structures. I am of the opinion that one of the most important tasks of a CEO is not only to present himself internally but also to be a neighbor for his customers. For me, a modern CEO is a kind of corporate influencer who represents the company’s culture and public image to the outside world as one of the main characters. And by representing the company externally, I don’t just mean attending business conventions, but also maintaining close contact with customers. After all, customers are the ones who use the product in question. If the contact between the CEO and the end-user is right, it is only a matter of time before success occurs.
How would you define “leadership”?
Moritz Wobith: For me, leadership means that I can put myself in the shoes of employees and act not only rationally, but also emphatically. After all, employees are also people who have their own problems. In my eyes, leadership also means giving employees the freedom to act. If there is no freedom, there is a lack of quality. It goes without saying that some people, for example, work better at night and some during the day.
With an adapted milestone plan, the full potential of employees will get enabled. What is particularly important to me here, is that agreements are kept. This part of the agreement enables just such freedoms. If these are not adhered to, it is detrimental to the entire company and can lead to serious structural problems. For me, Leadership is also the handling when employees make mistakes. They should be encouraged to talk about it and find out what the problem was and what they learned from it. In my opinion, these mistakes should be shared with the whole team, thus opening up a discussed culture of mistakes and allowing all team members to learn from them.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Moritz Wobith: I don’t believe that there is really something like “to be born with” or not. Everyone can learn anything if they have enough willpower to learn something. In my opinion, it is the same with entrepreneurship. It will cost you time to learn, you will make many mistakes and one or the other may even lose money. There will be people who want to discourage you, who may not want you to succeed. If you are still not discouraged, then the path of the founder seems to be exactly the right one. We founders love our freedom, the opportunity to work for ourselves and do what we love. You are not born to be a founder, you choose to be a founder. It’s not the easiest path, but it’s the most fun and the one that allows us to reach our full potential.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Moritz Wobith: One of my role models when it comes to life lessons is Tony Robbins. The quote I want to share with you is also from him: “energy flows where attention goes”. It means that where you focus on your energy flows. This is especially powerful when it comes to negative thinking or overthinking. So when you give your attention to negative thinking, your energy flows in there and that harms every individual. Because negative ways of thinking are often only in our minds, which most of the time has little to do with our reality. However, if we focus more on positive events and experiences, then the same thing happens, except that this time we gain power and strength and actively support our brain to focus on the good outcome. For anyone who would like to learn more about this way of thinking should definitely take a look at the topic “Priming” by Tony Robbins. Just check it out for yourself and you will definitely not be disappointed and you will see a positive development after a short time on how you can better deal with problems.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Moritz Wobith for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Moritz Wobith or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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