Your name and age: Guillaume Thevenot – 44 years
Tell us about your family
My wife and I moved from Paris to London in 2000, just after graduating from the same business school. We have two children who were both born in London – one daughter who is six years old and a son of 10 years.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I have worked in the travel industry for nearly 20 years – mostly with online travel agents, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor or Voyage Privé, more recently. The concept of BabyBreaks began to take shape shortly after the arrival of our first child 10 years ago. After taking exciting roles for start-ups and leading travel companies, I decided it was about time I started my own venture to execute my own idea. The transition from working in a company to being a solo entrepreneur has been a learning curve and is definitely not an easy path.
When did you launch?
The company officially launched in September 2018 but I would say we really started to get going in August of this year, following the re-launch of our new website.
How did you get started?
Right after finishing my work with Voyage Privé, I started to lay the foundations of BabyBreaks. I had a goal of publishing a website at minimum cost, putting family-friendly travel content online about key cities across Europe, such as Paris or Lisbon. I soon discovered how challenging it is to do everything on your own.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
Being able to see progress every week on how our audience reacts with our content, charting their engagement via the different social medial channels.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?
You have to make tough decisions in order to keep the business running. Of course BabyBreaks in its infancy, so we have to adapt quickly. Our company is self-financed – we have a small budget for every area, to ensure we are able to grow.
What has worked well about your business?
So far we have found the people we encounter – whether friends, family or strangers, absolutely love the idea of turning to our website and finding in one place, where to stay, where to sleep and what to do with children. The idea is unique in itself.
What’s been your biggest business mistake?
I delayed handing over the design and development of our website after the launch. I should have foreseen a few months after the launch that I needed to work with an agency to make our website faster on mobile, with the objective to run a content driven site.
How did you deal with it?
I called a consultant in for a day, who told me upfront the things I should have known months before. She opened my eyes to several weaknesses in our website and I consequently decided to work with an agency to revamp the whole site. It was a two-month project.
How do you fit in work with the family?
When I resigned from my former employer, I decided I would start my own venture from home and also cut household costs, by letting go of our childminder. Which means, while I am working on my business, I am also assuming the role of being a Dad at home. I collect the kids from school every day and try to help them with their homework. My kids have never seen me so much as in the last year, which is great! They know that when we get back home from school however, I still have to keep on working until 6.30pm. This cut-off time is when I close down my computer and focus solely on looking after them (so bath time, evening dinner, homework…). Not every day is an easy ride. Sometimes, I struggle to find the right balance between running a business and looking after the kids, so they’re happy.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
In my business plan, I aimed to make the venture breakeven after three years, so we still have some financial goals to meet. I didn’t raise any money or ask for loan. The company has been financed using some of my savings, so it is vital we make it work.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
I have not thought about this once during the past 18 months, however if something extraordinary came up, which made sense for our family, of course I would consider it, against my current venture.
Do you have an exit strategy?
We have some exit ideas, but I wouldn’t call it strategic for now. First, we need to demonstrate the idea sticks and keep growth steady with our UK audience. We want to become the leading travel website for families.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come?
At the end of 2017, during the Christmas holidays, I had a thought in my head that maybe it was time to stop working for others and start my own venture. I had always found plenty of reasons not to start something on my own. The more I delayed the idea however, the more I thought that maybe I would regret later in my life. So I had this “snap” moment: that’s it, I have worked enough years with great entrepreneurs and colleagues at different companies, learning the tricks of running an online travel business. Now is the time to start my own venture…
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
I really hope I will be still leading an exciting travel venture that has solved the dilemma of finding great holidays for parents with young children. We want to help millions of families make the right decisions on where to stay, eat and find great activities for their children. The venture has developed with other Points of Sale in mind too, such as France, Germany or the USA maybe.
Find out more at www.babybreaks.com