Our first Booster Lab in Barcelona brought together 11 early-stage startups from around Europe who are all making a positive impact on the tourism industry. The entrepreneurs participated in a jam-packed weekend learning from trainers, our finest mentors and experts from Booking.com and, of course, each other. They now have the tools to scale their businesses and continue growing their impact.

Here are some highlights from the 3 days in Barcelona.

 

Day 1: Inspiration, Mentors & Impact

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Day 1 started with a bang - a quick meet and greet with the startups, judges and mentors led us to our introduction session, hosted by our Booster Lab partners, Pioneers Discover. Here, Irene de Bot, Manager of Booking Booster, introduced the participants to Booking.com’s startup roots, Booking Cares, and the Booking Booster programmes. We were then visited by the councillor for tourism in Barcelona, Agusti Colom, who gave us great insight into what the council is doing to combat over tourism and lack of distribution of travellers in the city. Finally, Alexei Levene of Desolenator, one of our 3-Week Booster Programme participants, owned the stage, sharing his entrepreneurial past as well as experiences with the Booking Booster Programme and mentors.

Straight after the kick-off, the participants met their mentors, sharing their expectations for the weekend over a quick cup of coffee before Pablo Sanchez led a workshop on Impact Measurement and took them through their Theory of Change. This helped them to map out how exactly they can measure the impact they make in their affected destinations. Ready for some food and some networking, we gathered around the table with wine and local food to end the first of 3 packed days.

 

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Day 2: Putting the Pieces Back Together

8:00 was the call time on this Saturday morning for a quick introduction to our very full 14 hour schedule for the day. Adriane Thrash and Argyris Spyridis of Innovation Farm definitely woke the participants up with their confrontational and no bullsh*t approach to Scaling in their 3-hour workshop. It was in these 3 hours that the startups confronted their doubts and were left questioning what they thought they knew about their businesses. Joined by their Booking.com mentors, the participants developed their Scaling Roadmaps. This enabled them to plan their coming year with a concise, focused, and distraction-free scaling plan - something they will continue to revise and perfect over the coming months.

This long day continued with some more time to work independently and 4 one-on-one sessions with 20+ Booking.com mentors and experts, giving each startup a variety of perspectives, guidance, and learnings.

While the schedule officially finished after our group dinner and drinks, the night was not over for many of the participants who continued their work in preparation for their pitches on Sunday.

 

Day 3: Pitch Training and Pitches

At 9:30 the startups had to submit their final Scaling Roadmaps. While the jury began their review process, Adriane and Argyris returned to give some tough love to the startups and perfect their pitching technique. The startups each have the opportunity to pitch and hold a Q&A in front of our 4 judges, 100 audience members, and fellow startups for grants of up to €25,000.

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In the coming months, all participants will continue working with their Booking.com mentors and with their new network of sustainable tourism innovators.