Edial Dekker is CEO & Founder of Gidsy, an internet platform to find and book events organised by real people.
1. If you could trade places with an entrepreneur living or dead who would it be and why?
I’d swap places with my uncle. He’s a farmer, and has been growing organic vegetables for the last 10 years. Since I joined an urban garden in Berlin (in Tempelhofer Park, the abandoned airport), I realised how important and fun it is to learn about growing vegetables and flowers, and take responsibility for a piece of land. Secretly, I’m often fantasising about owning my own piece of land, building a cabin and being completely self-sustainable.
2. What has been your most effective business decision to date?
Saying no. When you’re a young internet start-up, you try to learn as much as possible in as little as time possible by focusing on the right things. Saying no to something is tough, but one of the most important things to learn fast if you are working at a start-up. Saying no to meet-ups, coffee’s and anything else that can distract you is tough, but needed. Saying no does not mean you have to come up with a lame excuse. If you are honest, people will understand you. If you’re busy with other things, say that. If your priority is at somewhere else for the company, say that. If you don’t think it makes sense to meet up, say that. I’ve learnt that if you’re honest about this, people will understand.
3. Describe your ‘Eureka Moment’ with your current endeavour?
Coming up with the idea of Gidsy, there was definitely a moment where we realised the need for something like it. It started, when I was on high school and university. After school, I worked as a cook and got extremely into it.
The idea of going to the forests around Berlin to look for mushrooms that could be cooked was always a dream. But I had no idea which ones we could and could not eat. So, my brother and me went looking for someone who could show us which mushrooms could be used for cooking. Google-ing around, we found out that it’s nearly impossible to find someone and schedule a mushroom picking tour. So we thought: hey, there’s a huge opportunity here. On the one-hand it’s super difficult to offer an activity and take care of payments, reservations, cancellations and all that. And on the other hand it’s impossible to find something interesting to do. So, let’s create a marketplace for things to do. The idea of Gidsy was born: answering the question ‘what to do’
for anyone in the world.
4. What’s been the best advice you’ve been given about being in business?
Never asking for anything has been an important piece of advice for me. A good friend, Boris, told me that once. If you have to ask for something, you are doing an important thing wrong: communicating what your goals are. If you are passionate about something, and you can convince anyone around you about where you want to go, you never have to ask someone anything. They’ll understand, and they’ll be there for you when you need them. The second important lesson that comes from that is the importance of loyalty: never forget who helped you, and recognise people around you who could use your help.
5. What has been the biggest failure to get ‘swept under the carpet’?
The only failures are the ones that you have not learnt from or that have hurt others. That said, failure is an interesting thing, because (like success), you can decide what it is for yourself. For me, my biggest failure was when I just got out of university: I was frustrated about how my teachers taught about stuff, and how my employers treated me. Autonomy is freedom and doing it my own way became my goal. But there’s something arrogant in that attitude. It’s a good thing to realise that you will never be the best at something, and you need people around you who know things better than you. You have to be open for advice, learn as much as possible, and only then – do it your own way.
6. How would you commence a motivational speech for budding entrepreneurs?
We’re living in a very special moment in history. Anyone with internet access has access to an insane amount of knowledge. Digital communities are intermingling with the real life in a very fast pace, and there’s still a lot of non-pursued opportunities. If you feel any sense of unhappiness, or frustration about how things are now, you should take responsibility. Learn HTML today, send an email to a possible co-founder tomorrow and start thinking about what you want to change in the world.
7. What is the most important part of a sandwich?
It’s origin of ingredients and the person who made it. Both things are equally important for a ‘good’ sandwich and you should have answers to both.
8. What’s the dumbest thing an investor/mentor/adviser said to you, in hindsight?
I never use the word dumb. I think it’s perfectly fine not to be right about something, if you are willing to admit that. I believe that your investors, mentors and advisers have a big role to help you think differently about things. Whether they are wrong or right, really does not matter. As a founder, you should always be the last one to be able to make the final decision. If you decide what you actually do with advice, there’s no such thing as a dumb advice. Deker Sivers, someone I highly respect, also wrote a great article about this and other related things to this.
9. What do you think will be written on your epitaph?
I’m only 27, and I’m not too sure what will happen in the rest of my life. But I hope Hunter S. Thomson’s line ‘Too strange to live, too rare to die’ will make it to my epitaph somehow. I guess whatever happens, I hope that line will justify and judge everything I ever did.
10. Has your brand of underwear elevated with your success?
My underwear brand has not changed but the quantity of my underwear has changed a lot. When you are travelling a lot, it makes a lot of sense to have a lot of underwear so that you do not have to do the laundry that often. I hate doing laundry.