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Companies should be able to book (almost) everything via this platform

Nothing is as important as focus.

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Companies should be able to book (almost) everything via this platform

Nothing is as important as focus. At least that's what investors and consultants say when the company relies on too many features at the same time. But Anny from Cologne proves that this can also work. The start-up offers a booking system for all kinds of resources, for example for rooms and desks in the office, but also for equipment or the organization of an event.

And despite the lack of focus, it is successful: According to its own statements, the start-up generated three million euros in the first half of 2022, of which two million euros were profits. Just two years after it was founded. And without investor funds.

"Why do you need focus? Which playbook is this in? All very successful companies are diverse because they can achieve greater scalability that way,” says Anny founder and CEO Lucian Holtwiesche in an interview with “Gründerszene”.

He started the start-up together with his brother Simeon and three other co-founders in Aachen in 2020, at that time under the name Bookingbuddy. The company is now based in Cologne.

The brothers had previously organized major events together, including what they claim to be the largest pool party in Germany in Oberhausen. The founders found that there was no platform on which several service providers or resources could be booked via a single system. So they just built this start-up themselves.

Since Anny has managed to do without investor funds to this day, the founders have chosen a different financing strategy. "The secret of our success was that we sold our product when it was still incomplete," says Holtwiesche.

“The customers were so interested in the product that they also invested in the development. This enabled us to cross-finance our entire product development.” In addition to monthly income for what she says is 2,000 customers of the SaaS solution, Anny also earns a commission for transactions, among other things.

The network of the digital hub Aachen is said to have also helped at the beginning. The co-working space of the hub is a customer of the start-up, later other companies from Aachen followed, which became aware of the start-up through network events.

"Trust is usually the hurdle that initially fails when a larger company is supposed to work with a start-up," says Holtwiesche. "The network helps a lot there."

The start-up also benefits from not just concentrating on one feature. In the beginning, the focus was on co-working spaces as a customer and bookings for rooms and workplaces were offered there. But with the labor law restrictions caused by the corona pandemic, Anny simply refocused and from then on offered booking solutions for vaccination centers.

“We are crisis-proof because we are universally positioned. Depending on market requirements, we can quickly adapt our target group,” says Holtwiesche. "If Corona were to boil up again, we could help coordinate vaccination appointments or regulate capacities, for example by booking in advance."

The offices have been open again for a few months and Anny is also focusing more on the offices again. "Due to the fact that the home office became popular during Corona, there are many companies that are reducing the work space," says Holtwiesche. "Inevitably, they need workplace management that we can provide." Because where there are more staff than jobs, a solution is inevitably needed as to who can use which places and when.

Basically, Anny wants to replace all the tools and isolated solutions that companies normally use for resource management: These include the systems for booking desks, Outlook for booking rooms, Calendly for making appointments or Personio for organizing job interviews.

The founders have already achieved sales and profits in the millions, now they are focusing on international growth. "We have the basic motivation to grow and the potential of digitization outside of Germany is enormous," says Holtwiesche.

They want to expand to other European countries by the middle of next year and increase the team from 30 to 40 employees by the end of the year.

And the start-up is also increasingly approaching investors. Anny benefits from the fact that the VC landscape is currently in transition. Business models that rely on growth without sales are no longer popular with financiers.

Anny therefore sees herself in a good negotiating position with the investors: "We don't need the funds right now. That's why it's particularly interesting for us now to plan a lap and start the talks."

However, Anny hopes to get more from investors than just capital. "With a round of financing, you don't just collect money, you also show that you have potential for further growth," says Holtwiesche. It is an important trust factor, including for team members, new staff, customers and partners.

That is also the reason why the start-up has so far been so open to reporting its own business figures. Because they strengthen trust just like money from outside, says the founder.

Nevertheless, the company did not get through the founding without making mistakes. "We went through a lot of fuck-ups," says Holtwiesche. One of them: The start-up failed to introduce a holding structure when it was founded.

"We only realized the importance of such a structure late, so that we had to turn the start-up inside out with a lot of bureaucracy and high costs."

The bug doesn't seem to have done any harm in the long run. Because the young company's success cannot currently be denied.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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