- Today we are talking with Matt Luczynski who is the CEO and co-founder of Travala.com.
- Travala.com is a leading blockchain-based travel booking platform which currently has 1,654,357 properties covering 90,124 destinations in 230 countries and territories, and claims to have prices up to 40% cheaper than mainstream travel booking platforms.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
During my teenage years I was very interested in business. I studied business while I was at school and took some classes at college, and while I was at college I started some small businesses which really elevated my interest in entrepreneurship.
Following that, when I was seventeen (so that was in 2011) I was introduced to Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining by some of my friends during university. The whole concept of this new currency and this new way of doing things really interested me, and from then on I mined Bitcoin, traded Bitcoin and started to look at new different currencies coming up. So during university it was really a case of researching crypto, the concept of crypto and how blockchain could be used in real-world situations.
I also had a passion for travel from a very young age, and it was something I always wanted to do. So I started a travel startup during my second year of university (it wasn’t successful or anything) where we built an application which allowed travellers to connect with other travellers (similar to Tinder, but it allowed you to connect on interest rather than dating), and this was what inspired me to go into the travel industry.
I then went travelling to Vietnam during my summer break between my second and third year of university, and I started talking with a few people; one of them was my now co-founder Steve, and we started to talk about travel stuff and crypto, and as a result Travala was born. Since then we’ve been working on Travala non-stop.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
Probably my mum. She’s very much in business herself (has her own business), and its pretty much been passed on through the family.
We could go on to say people like Gary V (like really interesting marketing style people), but yeah, it's more like closer to home than public figures, and that's what has really driven me to be the way I am in terms of business.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
Probably when I did a year in sixth-form; so from sixteen to seventeen.
At the start I wanted to be a dentist. I was very good at chemistry, biology, chemistry and maths, and I went down that route only to find that it was the wrong route for me. What I found was that it didn’t really interest me or allow me to do what I wanted to do, so I actually left that and went back to college and carried on down the business route. This led to me study international business at university as I felt that this was the best route for me.
So yeah, that was probably the most turbulent time for me because I had originally chosen the wrong things, and what I learned was that there are times in your life where you can change and switch things up if you make a slightly wrong decision. It is here where you can choose to correct it and then go down the route you want to. So even if I had experienced this later on in my life (which obviously I didn’t), I believe I’d have been able to switch up then too.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Just go and do it. Go and do it and see if it works.
Behind every success story is a million failures. There are so many things I tried that didn’t work in my life, and things at Travala.com that didn't work such as marketing performance etc, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that behind every success there’s a million failures. So don’t get discouraged if you fail at the first hurdle. Carry on and carry on until you’ve achieved the vision you have in your head.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
Personally I feel that it is my ambition to achieve.
Like I mentioned previously, when you get knocked down you’ve got to get yourself back up, and if you don’t get yourself back up then you’re not going to get to the place you want to be. It’s a case of envisioning what you want to achieve and achieving it one way or another. When a hurdle gets put in your way, find a way around it; whether it’s around it, over it or however you need to get around that hurdle. That’s probably my biggest strength, strategically understanding situations and making sure we make the right decision to get around it.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
That crypto is not mass adopted yet, and as much as we want everyone to use cryptocurrency and understand blockchain, it’s going to take a very long time and a lot of education to make that happen.
A lot of people in the crypto space talk about ‘crypto crypto crypto’, but what I’m concerned about (and what we’re concerned about at Travala.com) is making a platform where people can use the functionality of blockchain and crypto, and one which also has the benefits of paying with Fiat currency. This needs to happen in order to bring forward mass adoption. People don’t need to understand crypto or blockchain, they just need to be able to use functions of it within a platform that works.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
I’ve got a really good girlfriend who listens to my complaints all the time, but something which comes to mind is a strong team who can deal with tasks that are delegated to them, and a team who can deal with different pressures from different areas within the business.
There are so many different areas that we cover at the top level that need to be passed down and delegated in order to maximise efficiency (for the team and the business as a whole), so it’s all about the team.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
Travel! Travel everywhere!
I’m a strong believer in spending money on experiences rather than being materialistic. I personally don’t have anything of material worth, and I’m a strong believer in travelling the world and seeing and experiencing as many things as possible.
Travel is the one for me.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
Craig Wright saying he is Satoshi. That is the biggest joke.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
What’s your private key for your main Bitcoin wallet?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
Wipe all student debt. Sort out public healthcare with public healthcare similar to the U.K. NHS, and give everyone a living wage so people weren’t homeless.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) What do you feel makes the Travala community unique compared to others?
We have a lot of support from our community, and we try and do right by them with every move we make. We’re always trying to grow the community and make sure that people within it are able to use a travel service - a service that we believe we have successfully created at Travala.com.
We also work hard to ensure that they are supported with things that they want to do. For example, if they want to make a booking at a certain place, we make sure that we provide that for them.
13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
I think the Nash.io community has a very strong group of people behind them. Their team is very strong (I’m friends with a couple of the founders) and I really believe in their product. I know it hasn’t been released yet, but I’m a very strong believer in what they’re doing, and I’m really impressed with everything that they’ve built; including their community.
14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
Instagram because it’s leading the way in the way that people interact with one another, and in the way you are able to grow a page. We have a lot of influencer accounts affiliated with Travala.com that are specifically focused on travel, and we believe it’s a very strong base which will be very important in the future for customer acquisition.
That’s probably our travel side.
Twitter really is the main place for crypto related things, although I’m not a strong believer in it myself apart from reaching crypto users. It’s not really a platform that’s grown very much over the years in line with platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but again, it’s still very good.
And then you have WhatsApp. They are going to be doing some really cool things moving forward, and they’ve got some cool things on their road map to be released as they start to monetise.
15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
I think yes in a way, but it really will depend on how it plays out.
With companies that are consumer focused like Travala.com, we do expect the crypto community to have a strong stance on how we operate and the ways we operate, and this is purely because we are a hybrid system that allows fiat and crypto on the platform. Other platforms that are just crypto focused may see it differently, and this is because they are not consumer focused. So traditional mainstream users may not matter as much to them because essentially they won’t be using their systems.
So I think it’s going to be interesting how it plays out for platforms like Travala, whereas for pure blockchain projects, I don’t think they’ll have much of an impact.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding Travala.com.
16) What do you feel sets Travala.com apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
There are a number of projects popping up related to travel and crypto. What we are seeing is them actually copying our moves. So what happens is we make a move and they mimic it in different ways, which is cool to see because it means that we are making the right moves. If that wasn’t the case then we’d be slightly more worried, but because of this and because of our stance on staying three steps ahead of every move that we make publicly, we believe that we’re going to lead this space continuously. We can also see from third party website traffic that we’re completely dominating, so it’s not something we’re worried about at all.
Regarding what really sets us apart, we have a number of different currencies, and we’re creating a number of different partnerships with huge crypto projects such as Bitcoin.com, Litecoin and others. To put things into perspective, we have a partnership with Consensus (which is the biggest crypto event in the world) to provide their hotel accommodation. So yeah, we’re completely set apart from the rest.
Last but not least, we make sure it’s as easy as possible for the user to use. A lot of other projects don’t understand that. Having wallets within the platform isn’t very strong, it needs to be as easy as possible for the user to pay from anywhere.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
I think governments not wanting it to go forward will be a mass driver as to why it does.
Having somebody tell you that you can’t do something with your money means that you’re probably more inclined to want to do it, so therefore, I think that’s one of the main arguments and main reasons that crypto will be driven forward.
Furthermore, because crypto is a store of value, it is going to increase in value based on supply. I know it’s very volatile at the moment, but in the future we can see it being more stabilised as it grows.
I believe these are the main reasons why cryptocurrency has a bright future.
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