Core product focus essential for success – Trivago MD

27 Oct 2010

Mobile applications can be a distraction and can take focus away from a company’s website, according to Trivago’s Malte Siewert.

Unless the company already has a successful and focused website in place, the Trivago managing director holds the belief that mobile phone applications can take away focus from what he terms the “core product”.

“I think that it can distract you from your core product. The desktop internet is clearly dominating mobile apps. I think you have to look at the individual situation of a company. For hotels, the iPhone can provide an additional value because when people travel they are on the move and are more likely to use the iPhone,” he said.

Developmental investment and maintenance

Siewert believes that small firms should heed this warning as the “developmental, investment and maintenance” resources an app would take to maintain could be too overwhelming for their businesses.

“For a start-up which is not engaged in something like social media, for example, I would recommend focusing on the website first and making sure it is in good shape. Then think about mobile apps. They require significant developmental and investment resources, as well as maintenance resources.”

Trivago, provides an online service that compares room rates for hotels worldwide and was started by Siewert and two other co-founders in 2005. Its revenues of €8,000 to €10,000 in 2006 compare to current revenues of €2m to €3m per month.

Siewert said that despite these modest beginnings, he and his partners had every confidence they would succeed with their venture and attributed some of their success to constantly “tweaking” instead of majorly overhauling their web service.

Evolutionary, not revolutionary

“We were always confident we would find one way or the other to succeed in business. But initial focus was a bit different. We did not change the product dramatically but we shifted and tweaked it over time. At a certain stage we started to tweak things in an evolutionary approach rather than revolutionary. Whenever we found something on the site where we started to pick up some traction, we focused on that and gave it a lot of attention and improvement. We found that extremely helpful.”

Siewert also recommends that, while it is not critical to a company’s success, paying attention to the backroom staff and not only sales will benefit any companies that are currently on the rise.

“We recommend to immediately pay attention to the back office. When you are successful and start to make revenue and profit, it is normal to focus on sales and not pay attention to the back office, but once you are a more established senior company, then you should pay more attention to your back office. At a certain point you need to focus on processes. It can be done with little resources and it will be extremely helpful eventually if the company starts to become successful.”

Siewert is attending Founders, an invite-only Dublin gathering of 100 of the world’s top technology company founders, including Chad Hurley of YouTube, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype, who will be in Ireland for the upcoming Dublin Web Summit.