An idea is born
GetYourGuide founders Johannes Reck and Tao Tao met in high school. They went on to study at ETH in Zurich and during their time there, a close friendship started forming. They were in the same classes, ran a student organization jointly, partied, and travelled together. In May 2007, they were set to go to Beijing together for a conference when a mix-up caused Johannes to arrive a day early. Not being a Chinese speaker, Johannes wandered around without anything to do. He tried to find information about the tourist attractions of Beijing without much luck. When Tao Tao arrived, he showed Johannes around, giving him a view through a local lens that would never have been accessible to him otherwise. An idea was born then and there.
When they returned to Zurich, they put their thoughts on paper. The idea was simple: a marketplace of people connecting supply with demand – locals with travelers. The first generation of the product, a pure peer-to-peer service model, did not get traction. Instead, they started receiving inbound requests from professional suppliers asking how they could get listed on their platform. That business model tweak led to the launch of the GetYourGuide site we know today.
The first encounter
When GetYourGuide started growing, they relocated the company to Berlin which is where Johannes’ and NGP’s paths eventually crossed. The first encounter happened on December 4th, 2013. NGP had just invested in two other Berlin-based companies, Babbel and Fyber. GetYourGuide was not fundraising at the time and as it often is with growth-stage investing, the company was at a too early a stage for an investor focused on growth rounds anyways. But they stayed in touch, and in 2015, the time was finally right for NGP to invest in GetYourGuide.
Bo Ilsoe: “I remember Johannes’ first pitch very clearly still; it’s probably among the best ones I have heard. He was straightforward, clear about what he was doing, why he was doing it, and what he saw as the larger vision for the company. That impressed me.”
Walter Masalin: "Europe is the world’s largest tourist destination although it’s a fragmented and diverse market, so we knew that there was a high likelihood that a global champion in this space would emerge from Europe."
The success behind GetYourGuide comes not only from a great founding team and a large market opportunity, but also from running a scalable and highly metrics-based organization. GetYourGuide is what we would call a data-first company, something for which NGP is always on the lookout.
The road ahead
GetYourGuide has expanded the way we think of booking travel, taking it a step further from booking just transportation and lodging to also include in-destination experiences. Johannes envisions a future for travel that puts high-quality experiences with family and friends just one click away, on your phone.
Johannes Reck: “Bo kept challenging us on developing our mobile strategy. In 2017, 27% of our bookings have come from travelers booking activities on their mobile devices while in-destination, our highest-ever mark. On-demand activity booking is the next frontier in our efforts to bring this segment of the tourism industry online, and I expect this figure to continue to rise.”
GetYourGuide is bringing a whole segment in the travel industry online, building the tech stack for the supply side of online bookings and matching it with a user-friendly consumer platform. Johannes, Tao Tao and the rest of the team are building the next large travel champion, based on three key convictions: that the next billion-dollar travel company will be built on mobile, that it will be experience-driven, and that it will be fully international.