Last week, we announced the participation of Wehostels in Endeavor’s ISP. This week, we came across two more pieces of news about this popular startup, one that we received as a PulsoSocial exclusive. First, the company opened its offices in HubBog in Bogotá. Second, it added Lucas Lain to its team as CTO. PulsoSocial correspondent Aleyda Rodríguez spoke with Wehostels co-founder and CEO Diego Saez-Gil about his experience as an Endeavor entrepreneur and his work in his startup, starting at the conception of the idea itself.
Aleyda Rodríguez: You are an Endeavor entrepreneur. What has the experience meant for you in terms of education and personal growth?
Diego Saez-Gil: Yes, I’ve been fortunate in being selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur. The process has been tremendously enriching. Endeavor forces you to question every single aspect of your business, on both micro and macro levels. This is very valuable for the company’s growth. However, what’s most important is the caliber of the people you are put face-to-face with who analyze your business, question you and give feedback. I’ve received feedback from New York serial entrepreneur David Kidder and Amazon.com VP Diego Piaccentini, among other entrepreneurs and executives of that same level. There is a lot to be learned from people with so much experience. Additionally, and on a personal level, Endeavor really inspires you to become a better person and helps you to understand that your responsibility as an entrepreneur goes beyond what’s right in front of you: it is about making a positive impact on society. The generosity with which these individuals with extremely busy schedules donate their time is incredible. Following their lead, I have decided to dedicate one hour of each day to helping other entrepreneurs, my objective being to give back ten-fold what I have received.
Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your experience with Wehostels?
Diego Saez Gil: Wehostels is just starting out, and we’re dealing with a number of issues and obstacles. Right now, we’re looking to improve the product, iterate rapidly and adapt to what users really want and need. Moreover, we’re dealing with the challenge faced by any market that entails the connecting of two parts – in our case, travelers and hostels. We have to attract both parts simultaneously, and until a critical mass is reached, the service can’t be optimized. Finally, we have to manage the existence of competition from very big companies. It’s not easy to dip into their market share. That said, I am very proud of our team, and I think that we will be able to overcome the challenges ahead and triumph.
Aleyda Rodríguez: How did this idea come about?
Diego Saez-Gil: A few years ago, I moved to Europe to complete a Master’s program. I took advantage of the opportunity to backpack through Europe. My travel experiences were very inspiring, but they also helped me to identify a number of business opportunities. I recognized that, as a traveler, there were a number of services lacking that could be possible by way of the technological advances of the internet, like social networks and mobile devices. I investigated the online travel industry, identified a big market and felt a budding passion for the industry. The idea itself has evolved along the way, but my passion for it remains the same.
Aleyda Rodríguez: How many users does Wehostels have right now?
Diego Saez-Gil: We don’t want to reveal that information just yet, but the number of users grows each and every day. We’re excited about the traction we’re experiencing on all fronts.
Aleyda Rodríguez: Can you describe your experience in the Endeavor ISP?
Diego Saez-Gil: The ISP was spectacular. It took place in Canary Warf, London’s financial district, where the London headquarters of many investment banks and corporations are located. The feedback from the panel that analyzed my candidacy was the most valuable aspect of the experience. I met with heavyweights like Nicolas Szekazy of Kaszek Ventures and Matt Harris of Bain Capital. Additionally, I got to meet entrepreneurs from around the world. It was an incredible experience from which I emerged energized and enthusiastic about what’s to come.
Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in starting Wehostels?
Diego Saez-Gil: I learn thousands of things each day. One issue I’ve recently come across is the importance of focus. Entrepreneurs generally have many ideas and try to take on too much. At the beginning, it’s important to focus on just a few elements and refine talent and knowledge in those things. Another essential lesson I’ve learned is that having the right team assembled is fundamental – everything else is secondary. For that reason, I’m really looking to continue bringing new talent into Wehostels, attracting the right people by making Wehostels the best place to work possible. We’re creating an unbelievable atmosphere in our office, and the benefits we offer to our team are something few other companies do.
Aleyda Rodríguez: In light of your experience with Endeavor and having been selected for its ISP, what are your plans for Wehostels?
Diego Saez-Gil: First and foremost, I am excited to announce that we’ve just added a key member to our team: Lucas Lain, a serial entrepreneur who has built various companies (one of which was acquired by Grupo Clarín in Argentina). Lain will act as our new CTO. He has arrived with perfect timing as we’re shifting our focus towards mobile development, an area in which he has a lot of experience. Wehostels co-founder Alex Torrenegra, who was our original CTO, will now act as Technical Advisor.
Furthermore, we’re very enthusiastic about the upcoming launch of our first iPhone app. We’re really proud of the application we’ve developed, which I think is 10 times better than those of our competitors in terms of both design and user experience. We hope for the app to be available at the App Store by the end of this month – we’ll keep you posted!
This text has been adapted into English from its original Spanish publication.
Photo of Diego Saez-Gil and his team at the Wehostels HubBog office, courtesy of Diego Saez-Gil.