The Harsh Reality of the World of Startups –
The First 6 Months

Here at Iconic Offices we are surrounded by incredibly talented entrepreneurs and business troupers on a daily basis. It really is a no brainer for us to pick the brains of some of these business wizards; to seek their advice, share their experiences and provide us any words of wisdom they can muster. One of our first members we approached is Maximilian Thiel who has been running a new startup as part of a team for the past 6 months. And Maximilian was kind enough to share his experiences thus far below…

Startup Learnings From The First 6 Months.

As the title suggests, we started our journey in our new startup, Travel Open Partnership, about 6 months ago. It’s been a lot busier, and more exciting than I imagined it would be. Having been involved with startups for the past two years, I’ve seen a lot of other companies and startups founded and grown, some successfully and the majority less so. A few of them raised capital, while some were bootstrapping.
I’m sure many of you have read the statistic that 90% of startups fail. While the actual figure is slightly more positive than that (it’s around 80% failure rate), the fact remains that starting a new startup is risky business, with high risk, but potentially unlimited rewards for everyone involved. Here are a few things that I’ve realised over the last several months…

1) Simplifying your mission statement & product description is extremely hard!

Some of you may have found this out yourself through blood, sweat and tears and so did we. Taking a complex like ours (an analytics focused, heavily technical bookings platform for hotels, in our case) and making it easily understandable to potential partners, customers and even close team members. Having a vision for the future is important, and sharing that vision so it’s easy to understand is vital!

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

2) Things take a lot longer than expected

As Bill Gates is often quoted to have said: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years” and that is my experience so far as well! As a startup that’s heavily focused on technology, development, testing and optimisation, we can understand that these things take time. My focus every day is on the success of our customers, both partners and consumers.

While I can’t directly help with the development effort, I help our engineers make the UI of our booking platform as user friendly as possible. At the same time, we’re developing new ways for customers to book their dream holiday with as little hassle as possible. This takes a large amount of the burden away from the engineers, who then have more time coding the product – as this is even before a single booking has been made in the system! 

3) Getting your first customer is challenging!

Even after all the preparation, market research, customer research, product development and everything in between, landing your first customer will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Especially in Ireland, no one wants to be ‘the first’ or the ‘guinea pig’.


The most likely way to win confidence is to show the product. The more abstract the idea, regardless of how good it is, the harder it is for them to visualise or imagine. Work with lots of data? Graph it, draw it, make it a pie chart! Have you developed a great new way to make your potential customers more money? Show them the prototype (once it’s not a raw pile of back-end commands, obviously) and allow them to dream and imagine what you could do. People like to buy, but they hate to have anything sold to them. Make buying simple, no strings attached (in case they are afraid of the risk) and fun, as much as possible will increase the chances, even if once again takes longer than expected! 

Written by Maximilian Thiel

Head of Customer Success at Travel Open Partnership

Suited and stylish, always smiling and engaging with anyone willing to challenge and pull ideas apart. When he’s not on straight business mode, this non anonymous entrepreneur can also be found head down, earphones in, stuck to audiobooks, always upskilling. In his spare time, you’ll find him hanging with fellow colleagues and members, enjoying a cold beer (he is German after all!).

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