The startup is not a startup until it has its own motto, which can sum up the essence of the whole business. In the case of the Like Local application, the motto is “We offer free self-guided walking tours created by those who know the city best, the locals.”The service is developed for foreigners, tourists who would like to explore Budapest, London and Barcelona and get to know more about the cities with the help of locals’ tips. The application gathers free tours, city walks and specific routes, which are structured per different categories, easy to navigate and not accessible elsewhere.
The idea was proven to be salable, so we asked Gabriella Csányi how hard it is to tackle all the difficulties as a woman in the business world.
What’s happened since the launch of the application in April?
After the trial version, on October 1, Like Locals 1.0 came out, which is a version with almost full functionality. The response is very positive, with much better results than expected, whether in terms of downloads, dropouts or feedback. We get a lot of positive feedback from users, and I see this as the key to success. So this is definitely a good sign. More importantly, our growth is 100 percent organic; so far, we have spent nothing on marketing.
In June, we started writing a blog that was so well received, with a high conversion rate, that we started developing a functional website. While the app is useful for those who are already in the city, the website will help travelers plan their trip.
What is very interesting is that not only users, but also various service facilities are contacting us to be included in our maps. There are so many requests that we almost no longer have the time to keep in touch with everyone. And here I would like to emphasize the importance of personal communication, because we are not an open platform. We do not want to give up quality for quantity. So this will be the most important task now, to manage communication effectively.
You have experience in both national and international startup scenes. What is the male to female ratio among startups?
A lot of women think about and plan for it, but unfortunately only a few people actually start it. I always find that male entrepreneurs, if they have an idea, start off right away without any hesitation, not afraid of failure.
Women, by contrast, are very thoughtful and start thinking about business from every angle and every possible scenario. This is good on the one hand, but on the other hand it takes a lot of time away from them and makes them uncertain. Fortunately, there are more and more programs like Design Terminal’s mentoring program that improve these rates and inspire and motivate women. But in Hungary, there are still too many women who don’t have a go at it because they think it wouldn’t work for them anyway.
And yet, what advantage does it give if a startupper is a woman?
All I can say is what I hear from my colleagues, as I am the only woman on our business team, hopefully not for long. Women are much more empathetic and better at handling failures. It’s hard to get into risky things, but when we do, we’re persistent and we go to the end of the world to achieve our goals.
I am not saying that women must do business with women only. In fact, it is very good that both genders are represented in a team so that different male and female qualities can balance each other out.
What more could be done to encourage women not to be afraid of starting their own business?
I think what helps and encourages women the most are role models and success stories. It is important for women to embrace and showcase their successes. Young people in particular need such sources of inspiration.
Have you had such a role model?
Fortunately, yes. When I was studying at London School Economics, I had no confidence at all, but luckily I had a professor who really believed in me. She encouraged me, and we started a project together that was very successful. For me, besides my mom, she was one of my role models.
But not only women who are already successful can be an inspiration. I am also very motivated by the women I work with and who fight for success day by day.
What is the biggest difficulty for a female startupper?
To overcome the ups and downs and the lack of self-confidence. As a startup, one day you believe that you will redeem the world with your idea; and the next day, you’re sure that it is doomed to failure. It is an everyday feeling and part of the game.