Travis Katz – CEO and Co-founder of Gogobot.com

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I am inspired by disruptors.  I love the idea of people coming from the outside and through passion and smarts turning an industry on its head.  Companies like Square, Eventbrite, AirBnB, Flipboard and Pandora are all companies that have inspired our thinking at Gogobot.

Travis Katz is the co-founder and CEO of Gogobot.com.  Prior to founding Gogobot, Travis was the SVP and GM for MySpace International, launching MySpace in more than 30 countries and growing the user base to more than 70MM users.  Before MySpace, Travis was director of corporate and business development for News Corporation, where he co-founded Fox Interactive Media, News Corps’ digital arm.   Travis served in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Company, and spent 4 years at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.  Travis has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Wharton.

What are you working on right now?

I am working with the team on designing our mobile application and a new, visual way for people to share their travels with their friends.

What does your typical day look like?

I typically work from 8:30 until midnight, with a couple hours off in the early evening to spend with my 2 kids before they go to sleep.  I start my day with coffee and email, then do a 10 minute stand-up meeting with the team to get a sense of what everyone accomplished the day before and what they are working on that day.  The rest of the day is filled with a multitude of tasks that vary depending on the day – an hour talking through the right user experience for a new feature we are using, calls with partners and potential partnerships about ways to better work together, analyzing click through rates on posts to Facebook, reading through user questions and the responses they are getting, thinking through how an observation from a user highlights a new approach to a page we hadn’t considered.

3 trends that excite you?

I love the idea of personalization – the idea that the internet can deliver truly personal experiences to users based on their tastes and interests – this is a major passion of ours at Gogobot.

I love the trend of companies opening APIs, unlocking data and allowing others to find innovative ways of using it.

And I love the mobile web and how it is forcing people to rethink design and user experience to work around its limitations (e.g. screen size) and take advantage of its benefits (e.g. it’s always with you).  These are all trends we believe can make the experience of planning your next trip more fun, more inspiring and much more efficient than it ever has been in the past.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Typically with electrodes and a monstrous laugh.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by disruptors.  I love the idea of people coming from the outside and through passion and smarts turning an industry on its head.  Companies like Square, Eventbrite, AirBnB, Flipboard and Pandora are all companies that have inspired our thinking at Gogobot.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

When I was at MySpace, I ran the international business, and in the first year I launched MySpace in 15 countries and 10 languages and self-funded the entire expansion with our own advertising revenues.  The roll out was going very well, and we were seeing double digit monthly growth in each country after we launched, and were profitable and growing.  But we made the mistake of believing that the past could be a good predictor of the future.  It wasn’t.  At the end of my second year, Facebook, after lagging behind for years, exploded out of the gate, exploding with such force it literally stopped our growth in its tracks in many countries.  Then the recession hit and we saw ad revenues drop 25% in one quarter.  We had staffed up assuming the current year would look somewhat similar to the prior one.  It didn’t, and we ended up having to lay off staff to make the numbers work.  I am now obsessed with running leaner than you think you need to.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Assume the crowd is probably missing something important.

What do you read every day? Why?

I read the tech blogs (TechCrunch, AllThingsD, Om), the New York Times, and usually a story before I put my kids to bed.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

Clayton Christensen’s Innovators Dilemma.  It is the roadmap for why the mighty often fall, and how to think about the opportunities afforded by starting with a clean slate.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

I love my MacBookAir.  That thing is amazing.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

You are going head to head with companies like TripAdvisor that have a massive user base and deep pockets – what makes you think you can compete?

Size isn’t everything.  People are unhappy with the status quo.  They don’t want to waste hours poring over piles of content searching for that one shred of information that is useful to them.  They don’t want to be bombarded with so many ads on a page that the content is hard to find.  At Gogobot we are building an experience that is clean, efficient and fun – helping you to connect to information that is relevant to you and filter out the rest.  Putting the user first usually pays off, and that’s the strategy we are betting on.

Connect:

Follow me on Gogobot at: http://www.gogobot.com/user/travis_katz

My twitter is @traviskatz

Published on July 19, 2011 .

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