Today we talked with CEO and Founder of Lola, Paul English, to learn the amazing story behind his business!
What was the turning point in your life when you realized that the world needed your service?
It was not as big as a turning point in my life.
I’m perhaps not the common entrepreneur. I start companies to build teams first, and to solve problems second. I organize the teams who solve the problems.
The problem we organized at Lola was the problem that road warriors face when trying to plan business travel. The initial V1 launch of Lola was simply a chat application that let consumers chat with a travel agent. We discovered the most of our users were business travelers, so we started spending time with them to understand all of their needs. And I felt that their needs were underserved by other business travel services.
When did you realize this?
After we started interviewing our business travel customers last year.
Did your previous experiences or education, such as starting Kayak, affect your decision to start Lola?
When I left Kayak, the fifth company that I’ve started, I told friends that I would not start another travel company — been there, done that.
However, when I started Lola, first as a concierge app, I quickly decided that travel is the place where people need a concierge the most.
What was the biggest difference between your service from the competitors?
For road warriors – people who travel 10-20 times a year or more, there are three things:
1) Personalization. Unlike our competitors, our search results are not based on which company pays us, but are instead based on which results best fit each traveler’s preferences.
2) We give the benefits of direct booking without requiring the road warrior to actually install an app for each hotel or airline he or she wants to use.
3) We have 24×7 service integrated into our app, so you can have real humans helping you out during your trip.
What were some of the biggest struggles/hurdles when you were first starting your business?
The most important decisions an entrepreneur will ever make is who to hire.
Did you have any approach to overcome this obstacle?
I started out with my network to bring me my first few people, and then taught them how to recruit to find people outside our network.
As someone interested in marketing, were there any creative marketing techniques that you used?
As an engineer, my first interest is building a product that someone loves. And once you’ve nailed product market fit, only then do you start marketing.
What is one interesting thing that is not well known about your business?
That we have real human travel agents helping with any travel request you type into the Lola app.
Has your focus changed from the beginning to now?
We started out with a concierge app for consumers, but pivoted to become a business travel app when we learned that most of our users were business travelers.
What is your vision for the future?
Lola will become the standard way to book business travel, with the simplest tools, and the best results.
Do you have a message for any aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Your most important decisions will be around who you work with — who you work for, who you work with, who you hire to work for you. Put most of your energy into these matters, and the rest will follow.
If you want to learn more about Lola, you can find their website here. To read out last article about the business Werk, go to this link. Contact us to get your story heard!