Munich Startup: When we last spoke, you said that Lanes & Planes wanted to enter the European market. Were you able to achieve this goal?
Veit Blumschein, Founder and CEO Lanes & Planes: Our last conversation was in the spring of 2020, and an incredible amount has happened since then: What was then 40 employees has now become well over 100 “lanies”. And the volume of business travel handled by Lanes & Planes has reached completely new dimensions. We have also more than quadrupled our sales. The fact that this fantastic development was possible despite the pandemic makes us incredibly proud.
Above all, it also shows that the market still has huge potential. We can see very clearly from the more than 1,000 satisfied companies now using Lanes & Planes that business travel as a whole is once again reaching a similar level to before the pandemic. And that medium-sized companies in particular need digital end-to-end solutions for their travel and expense management more than ever. In this respect, we are not only very satisfied, but also more optimistic than ever that we are on the right track to unlock the European market.
Lanes & Planes: “The pandemic (…) is now playing into our hands”.
Munich Startup: What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
Veit Blumschein: The pandemic was of course a huge challenge for all companies in the travel industry – including us. However, we used the time very intensively to further improve the Lanes & Planes platform and to streamline our internal processes. This now enables us to offer our customers an even better solution and to scale much more efficiently. The fact that the market has consolidated quite significantly in some areas during the pandemic is now even playing into our hands.
However, we must not forget that our enormous growth since the end of the pandemic has also brought with it one or two new challenges: A scale-up that almost quintupled its volume within a year of the pandemic requires more mature processes, more intensive communication and, last but not least, more office space in order to continue working efficiently. All of this took a lot of effort and did not happen overnight. But it is also clear that it was worth it and that we are now well prepared for the next wave of scaling.
Well prepared for the next wave of scaling
Munich Startup: How has your solution evolved?
Veit Blumschein: We are continuously developing Lanes & Planes and have implemented well over 300 releases – not always just features – for our web application and our mobile app in the past two years. In addition to improvements for the user experience, we also have new interface integrations coming up all the time. For example, we now have direct interfaces with Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn and Sixt. This helps enormously in securing particularly attractive conditions for our customers. In addition, integration into our customers’ ERP landscapes (=Enterprise Resource Planning, editor’s note) is becoming increasingly important. For this reason, we also entered into a strategic partnership with the “All for One” Group this year.
Munich Startup: And how are you doing financially?
Veit Blumschein: Fortunately, we are in a very comfortable situation because we are so well provided for financially that we do not need a financing round to become profitable in the medium term. That gives us a lot of security in the current market situation. It allows us to stay true to only working with investors who share our vision, because we don’t need to rely on fresh capital. At the same time, we have a good idea of how we could use additional capital wisely to focus more on expansion outside the DACH region. In this respect, the following applies here: “Nothing has to, but everything can!”.
When growth really takes off, hand over responsibility and trust the team
Munich Startup: What lessons have you learned in the founding team so far?
Veit Blumschein: One big learning was definitely that you have to build up a good management team when things really start to grow, because otherwise you won’t be able to keep up as a founder. For this, of course, you need inspiring characters who are also willing to take on responsibility. At the same time, as a founder you also have to be willing to hand over responsibility and trust the team. In my personal experience, this sometimes feels strange and at times takes some effort. Ultimately, however, it’s the only right step and there’s absolutely no alternative for real scaling. It’s also great fun to see how motivated talents put their heart and soul into Lanes & Planes and grow from it.
Munich Startup: What role has the Munich ecosystem played in your journey so far?
Veit Blumschein: Inmy view, a good network is essential. For me, this means not neglecting contact with long-standing contacts in particular. At Lanes & Planes, for example, we had a lot of great business angels right from the start, also from Munich and the surrounding area, who supported us very actively. These include the founders of Personio and Flixbus. We are still in regular contact with these people and exchange ideas. That is incredibly important and also gives us a lot of pleasure.
Munich Startup: What milestones are you working towards next?
Veit Blumschein: The strong demand for our solution among small and large SMEs makes us very confident that we will become a market leader in the business travel industry in DACH over the next three years. We expect to handle a business travel volume of well over one billion euros for our customers via Lanes & Planes by then. We are already setting the course for this. At the moment, we are pleased to see anew every month that we are absolutely on the right track for this.