21 Feb 2014
The First Five Years: Evelyne White (MBA 2010)
Bookalokal founder and CEO on breaking the ice, taking risks, and what makes a perfect meal.Topics:
What's the story behind Bookalokal?
"I got the idea for Bookalokal in the summer of 2012. I'd been living in Brussels for a few years and hosting travelers. They all had similar questions about where to go, where to get a local experience, and what the local customs were. My best travel experiences have always involved having a local person on the ground, so I set out to launch a platform where travelers could connect with local people. Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to break the ice and learn about culture, so I chose gastronomy as the core theme behind Bookalokal events."
Where's the company today?
"We've done really well in our first test city of Brussels. It turns out travelers are not the only ones interested in our site. Local people love it—particularly people who've just moved from another city. Our customers use the platform as a way of connecting with new people around gourmet events and keep coming back—some as many as fifteen times in nine months! We're planning our next city launch (Washington, DC) and growing our team. We're five in total and now work out of our office in New York City. As much as I loved working in my kitchen, it's great to have more space in a great location where the team can collaborate. Other milestones include taking home the runner-up prize at HBS's New Venture Competition in 2013 and closing our first seed round in November."
What's the best piece of advice you received as an HBS student?
"Make the most of your two years: Soak it all in, spend time with people, and above all, take risks. You'll never be in a place and time like this again."
How do you use what you learned at HBS?
"While at HBS, I had no idea I would become an entrepreneur, yet my favorite classes were TEM (The Entrepreneurial Manager) and Entrepreneurial Finance. The case studies and the professors from both courses have been such a great help with my venture."
What is YOUR perfect meal?
"My perfect meal involves tapas, Spanish wine, and, above all, great company to enjoy it with!"
Follow Evelyne White on Twitter at https://twitter.com/evelynecwhite.
Class of MBA 2010, Section J