Meet Anders Boelskifte Mogensen, the co-founder and CEO of Gaest, Northern Europe’s largest online marketplace for listing, discovering and booking meeting spaces.
Before Gaest, Anders co-founded a management consultancy that specialized in the business travel and hospitality industry. Anders is also the co-founder of the luxury Nordic boutique hotel Nordic Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria as well as an Executive Board Member for Denmark’s leading spa hotel, Kurhotel Skodsborg.
I connected with Anders Boelskifte Mogensen to talk about the sharing economy, struggles and victories of entrepreneurial life.
Tomas Laurinavicius: What’s your elevator pitch?
Anders Boelskifte Mogensen: Gaest makes it easier to list, discover and book meeting spaces.
Laurinavicius: How did your first pitch deck look like?
Mogensen: Definitely unpolished and unrefined compared to what we have today. But hey, that’s the nature of the beast, right?
Laurinavicius: What is the essential problem you’re solving?
Mogensen: Gaest takes the pain out of booking meeting rooms, which by today’s standards is far too difficult. Think about it, why shouldn’t it be just as easy to book a meeting room as it is to book a hotel, flight or tax? We’re also helping customers better understand that where you meet is just as important as why you meet. That’s why many of our rooms are the unique, creative spaces that can give your meeting that kick in the butt they sometimes need to be effective.
The catalyst, of course, is that more and more people are moving to urban areas – resulting in outrageous prices for office spaces. So utilizing existing spaces that originally haven’t been considered for meetings creates a host of “wins,” namely more space, greater variety and new revenue streams for meeting hosts.
Laurinavicius: How did you get initial traction?
Mogensen: Traction came almost instantaneously, and it wasn’t long after we launched our MVP that Google booked our own meeting space for a seminar (after all, we do have to set the example by listing our own meeting spaces). It turns out that our personal and professional networks have been invaluable to spreading the word about Gaest and increasing traffic as well as on-boarding of new meeting spaces.
Laurinavicius: What is your unfair competitive advantage?
Mogensen: There’s a long and growing list, and one that will stand out when you visit Gaest is the selection of creative meeting spaces. We’ve uncovered places that have been off the radar and essentially unattainable before now. That’s not to say you can’t find more traditional meeting rooms, but our creative spaces are definitely a strength. In a similar vein, we view the +3,000 meeting spaces as more than just physical spaces; we see them just as much as meeting experiences. And because we encourage our hosts to craft unique experiences by offering add-ons, you might find yourself doing yoga, eating artisanal meals or taking a tour of a leading e-commerce company as part of your meeting experience. That’s not something you can recreate every day.
Laurinavicius: What were you doing before getting into the business?
Mogensen: Before co-founding Gaest, I co-owned a management consultancy that catered to the business travel and hospitality industry. And as it goes, it was actually during this time that the seed for Gaest was planted – and ultimately grew to a size that I couldn’t ignore it longer.
Laurinavicius: What is the most valuable lesson you learned?
Mogensen: Probably that it’s nearly impossible to fill so many roles at once. For instance, it’s proven incredibly difficult to be the co-founder, CEO and COO while also trying to attract investors. As an entrepreneur, you want to be involved in everything, but sometimes that’s just not possible.
Laurinavicius: What is the best decision you have ever made?
Mogensen: Well, besides starting this company, it was the decision to hire talented people to help with the day-to-day stuff, so I can focus on ensuring the long-term financial health of the company.
Laurinavicius: What is your biggest achievement so far?
Mogensen: If I didn’t say helping the company get to this stage then I’d be lying, but it’s also the acknowledgment and recognition we’ve received from the media, our colleagues and of course our customers that makes it all worthwhile. Also, we’ve won 4 awards over the last year that act as a big thumbs up to what we’re doing and have already achieved; what else could you ask for?
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