TSW #12: Ülane Vilumets

02 September 2013



Tell us a couple of words about you and your life in technology.
My background is from sales management and headhunting, but three years ago me and my co-founder Kalev decided to quit our day jobs and start growing a few hobby projects into real businesses. So we have founded three companies together that all relate to our biggest passion – travelling. Traveller Tours is a local tour operator that takes travellers off the beaten track in Tallinn and Estonia, Like A Local Maps are entertaining city guides that are published in 7 cities in 5 countries and eventually we came to the idea of starting a travel site that puts the same kind of hyperlocal travel experience at your fingertips and keeps you away from tourist traps.

Your multiple businesses in the independent tourism sector are more or less related to technology. To what extent are you involved in the technical side of these projects?
I don’t know a lot about technology, but I while I know about business and sales then I can ask the right questions about whether something is relevant to our core business or not – whether it’s perfecting something to extreme or will it bring in more business and make everyday work more efficient for our staff. In our startup my role is usually being the eyes of our users and local editors, who just like me don’t necessarily know how something is built but decide whether it’s simple and convenient enough.

Tell us about your connection with Garage48 events.
I have been to the awesome roadtrip to Minsk event and part of one team as a marketer. Our team was the audience’s favourite that time even though the product we built wasn’t anything to be proud of. Luckily we had good marketing people on board to get a lot of people to vote for us ;) I was also invited to the Kaliningrad event as a business mentor and I also gave teams feedback.

What were your fears and hopes when you first participated in Garage48? Why did you participate?
I had heard a lot about Garage48 and some of my friends, including my co-founder Kalev, had participated before, but I thought that I won’t have anything to contribute, so I never thought about participating until Minsk (like I said – I love to travel and I had never been to Belarus). Everyone started talking about how a bunch of Estonians are going to Belarus for Garage48 and I was sincerely surprised that a lot of people like me who are not programmers or designers were also going to participate. So I thought what the heck – I can also go then.

Did you gain anything from the experience of participating in Garage48?
Besides having a lot of fun you mean? It was a very interesting experience in many ways. First of all, it was interesting to watch people pitching their ideas and noticing how the way they came across as presenters influenced people to join their team. A lot of times the ideas that gathered the biggest teams were not the most valuable business ideas, but just fun projects that bring together a bunch of people that might later in some other context be useful to each other. So it’s really about connecting like-minded people while building a great service. Secondly, it was interesting to watch the team dynamics. How some teams really kept the energy up the whole time, while others sort of dragged themselves through the weekend and it really reflected in the result they presented on Sunday.

What will be your role at Garage48 Pärnu event? What are your expectations?
I will be a business mentor and giving feedback to the ideas as well as giving a short talk about my own experience as an entrepreneur. I would be excited to see more women joining the event even if it’s just to check it out. If nothing else, it will be an encouraging event to meet female entrepreneurs, seeing that they are just normal people and share experiences.

Any advice for women who are considering taking part in Garage48, but not really sure whether they have something to offer?
There’s really nothing scary about Garage48, because developing an idea is a team effort. You join a team of people that all have something to contribute to make that specific idea work. Say you have project management skills, then your value is making sure everyone finishes development on time and focuses only on the things that are worth focusing on to have a prototype ready by Sunday night. Depending on the role you take, you’ll be able to help out if you put your heart into it.

What is the most memorable situation you have ever been in concerning Garage48?
It’s hard to say what’s the most memorable situation about a 48-hour intense weekend. Garage48 IS a memorable situation!

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