Veronika Brazdil is a Slovak-born entrepreneur, who has been living in Spain for the last 9 years. She is passionate about hospitality and technology. She loves to travel and has visited over 50 countries so far. After finishing master’s in computer science, she worked as a web developer in Gibraltar. It was there that she decided to combine these 2 passions and start her own company. GuestBell is all about elevating the guest experience and making it easier for hoteliers to do business.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
My childhood wasn’t straightforward. Our family often struggled with money or the lack of it to be more precise. That’s why I think I didn’t like being a child. I wanted to help my parents to get by, but I knew I couldn’t. But I tried. I always joke that I started my first business when I was 5 years old. My mind was always filled with ideas on how to earn money. Back then, I made paper games for kids, bracelets, headpieces, and homemade body lotions. I also started a summer camp for kids. So despite everything, I must at least say that my childhood was never boring.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I was a good child but a rebellious teenager. My dad got sick when I was 13 years old and he spent many months in the hospital away from us. That’s when I lost interest in school and started partying out with friends. I felt like no matter what you do, how good you are, bad things will happen to you. I was very angry with the whole world. My grandfather was my idol, the person I looked up to and admired. He was always my example of how to behave and what to do in life. He showed me that you should never give up, no matter what’s going on in your life. He always believed in me. I was 16 years old when he died, and that was my turning point. I decided to make him proud and live up to my potential.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
The idea for GuestBell came to me about 10 years ago in a dream and from then I knew I needed to follow it and make it happen. I was in Prague enjoying winter vacation and after a cold day outside my throat started to hurt. So naturally, I wanted some hot tea delivered to my room. It took quite a while for me to figure out how to call the front desk because I couldn’t find any numbers. But anyways I got my tea, they actually didn’t have any drink menu in the room so I couldn’t find any prices. It must have been this experience that sends me the dream of my start-up idea. In my dream, I could order room service via a smart application on my phone. It was so easy and natural. When I woke up I immediately knew this was something that hotels and guests are missing.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
I have experienced many things since I left my job to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I co-founded GuestBell with my husband Peter, we met during our studies of computer science. The first year we started to develop GuestBell my husband lost both of his parents. He was their only child. It was a very painful period of our lives but also very complicated. We already lived in Spain and we had to go back to Slovakia to take care of things. It took a few months and a lot of energy. Finding the motivation to keep going after we returned to Spain was really difficult. We took some time off from work, traveled a little, hiked, read books, and exercised. It has become obvious to me that taking a break when you feel like doing so is the most effective coping mechanism. Take your time, your journey will be there when you are ready.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
GuestBell was released in January 2020, a few weeks before Covid Pandemic. It wasn’t easy being a hospitality startup and having the pandemic unfold right in front of your eyes. I felt bad for us and everyone else around the world. Not to mention that a lot of people, even our friends, lost family members. In order to keep my sanity, I kept telling myself that everything bad leads to something good. We worked hard even though there was basically no market at that time. We contacted many top general managers around the world to look at our solution. Since many of them didn’t have anything else to do we showed GuestBell to more than 70 hospitality experts. Each of them gave us amazing advice and helped us develop new features. It gave me hope that there are loads of truly remarkable people out there.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
We recently celebrated the 100th hotel on our platform, we already served more than 7000 guests. Our solution is all around the world from the United States to the small country of Vanuatu in Oceania. We are starting to grow rapidly with 16 hotels signed up in October.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would like to see people change their philosophy toward money. I truly believe that we could save ourselves and our planet if we could somehow factor out money. Too many things are now done just because of it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
My personal motto that I live by is “In the end… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” ― Lewis Carroll.
One thing that I realized recently while spending a lot of time talking with different entrepreneurs is that many of them want to be successful in a short time and then exit the company. Then you see many unhappy rich people without purpose. Working on GuestBell is making me happy, I feel that I do something that has a purpose, it gives me some sort of achievement and that’s the way people are supposed to live.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
Women have been at the forefront of entrepreneurship for centuries. They were responsible for some of history’s most innovative and impactful inventions, like the first computer algorithm created by Ada Lovelace, the discovery of radium and polonium by Marie Curie, and many more. I am proud to be a female entrepreneur and I hope there will be many more joining the ranks. I believe our natural compassion and empathy is well suited to bring the world toward a bright future.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Don’t be limited by your fears, trust your instincts and take every challenge as an opportunity to grow.