Read the interview with Sebastian Herke, celebrating one year circuit-booking.com
On December 31, 2012 circuit-booking.com's first full business will end after 365 days. Sebastian Herke (Managing Director) looks back to an exciting year for the innovative company, which revolutionized the circuit booking with a unique online booking tool.
Mister Herke, circuit-booking.com is a young and innovative company. Could you please give us a brief description of the team behind the start-up as well as of the business idea?
Herke: Putting our business idea into a nutshell is pretty easy: we're nothing else but "hotel.com for circuits". Our aim is to make the circuit booking for our clients and the operators as simple as possible by transacting all our processes online. circuit-booking.com is pleased to partner with the circuit architect Hermann Tilke for this unique concept.
Well, it really seems that the offer to book a circuit online is a unique solution to the market. Which clientele uses your service and may we ask you who your clients are?
Herke: Generally our service is available to all business clients who want to plan an event on a circuit. But we do not only focus on motorsport teams for whom we typically plan whole test calendars, but also on automobile, motorcycle and tire manufacturers, who are pretty active in the event sector.
When looking back on the last year what went well and what would you point out as very positive?
Herke: Personally I am very excited about the concept succeeding broadly consistent as planned. Thereby it is not only our clients who appreciate being supported by circuit-booking.com. Many circuit operators are also satisfied about our recommendation as event location for car launches or incentives. Especially for not so well known circuits we act as an additional sales channel which brings along new prospective opportunities for them.
Since we evoke the subject of the past year, is there anything that developed differently than you thought?
Herke: To be honest I am surprised that we had to overcome higher hurdles with the online business in the USA than in Europe. When following all the news about IT start-ups and companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter you soon think that the US market is entirely open to a business model like ours. But that is by no means the case and so we are facing an exciting challenge with our US subsidiary in 2013.
Mister Herke, you worked for BMW Motorsport for a long time before you implemented your own project. Is there a difference between working for an international company and bearing the responsibility for the own start-up business?
Herke: The biggest difference certainly is that budget deviations not only have effects on an Excel spread sheet which you send to the controlling department at the end of each month (laughing). Apart from that there's not much of a difference identifiable. While having being responsible for Formula BMW the task consisted of filling the driver line-up with young talents and to guarantee a strong project team each and every season. Like within the own start-up there was as little space for hiding as for declining all responsibility.
In recent years you could gain a lot of experience within a big company. Does this pay off and does it help you in your new situation?
Herke: Absolutely! Especially the knowledge about purchasing and ordering processes of big corporations helps us to adjust our booking process to simplify the collaboration with the different departments extensively. Apart from that you also know the approximate annual circuit requirements of the different departments.
There is surely a lot of technical finesses behind circuit-booking.com and the Circuit Sharing tool. Now we are of course interested to know if we can look forward to more technical innovations.
Herke: Technically, we will introduce some more new functions within the circuits' backend and we will introduce some plugins for partner websites to offer additional booking channels. Furthermore the planning for an additional sub-product has already begun. But at the moment I don't want to reveal too much to let sleeping ghosts lie.
Certainly you have been through a very diverse, interesting and busy year. How would you sum up this initiative and would you found an own company again?
Herke: I would be happy to do so again any time, even if you sometimes have a fitful sleep at night than with a job at a big company. But with partners like Hermann Tilke I had great confidence in the business right from the start. This in turn we have to convert into numerable outcome now and when looking at our order and acquisition situation for 2013 I am very confident to have a great success.