HouseTrip founder on the fascination of virtual reality

24.07.2015 15:50

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Arnaud Bertrand and his wife and co-founder Junjun wrote Swiss start-up history with HouseTrip, the platform for holiday apartments. However, the founders left the company last year. Bertrand tells startupticker about the lessons he’s learned and the couple’s future business plans.

HouseTrip is one of the largest holiday rental websites in the world with 7 million overnight stays, 20,000 destinations and 300,000 properties. However, its Canadian competitor Airbnb has grown rapidly and has now outstripped HouseTrip. Was this the reason that Bertrand resigned as CEO last summer and shortly later as president of the company?

“I left the CEO job because we were simply completely burned out after working 90 hours a week over six years. As a result, Junjun developed a health condition,” Bertrand told the New York Times at the beginning of the year. “The most important thing was that she regained her health.”

Now everything looks better, he says: “Today, a year after we left HouseTrip, we’re starting to think about what comes next. We’ve caught the entrepreneurship bug and so we want to start a new company, preferably in the field of virtual reality, which we find fascinating and which we think will change the world significantly in the next few years. Today we’re focusing on learning all we can about it, from 3D modelling to artificial intelligence, in order to make the right decision on the best opportunity to tackle.”

What has Bertrand learned from his experience as a start-up entrepreneur? He wants to write a book about it; he also wrote an extremely honest blog in spring 2015: “Three things all first-time entrepreneurs should know.” A must-read!

And how has HouseTrip developed since his departure? “Sorry, it is not my place to comment on the company,” he says. “The only thing I can say is that when I left the company last year I was succeeded by a very capable team, headed by George Hadjigeorgiou as CEO, and I have every confidence they’re making the right choices for the business.” The founder still has a stake in the company.

Bertrand currently lives with his wife in Shanghai, but it won’t be long before the couple’s next company is established – this time in the field of virtual reality.

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