Skift Take

There's a lot of wisdom in this video. Find out why Lola CEO Paul English believes travel startups should get as close as possible to the booking instead of going out and trying to create what he calls the "blah blah blah of travel."

When it comes to innovation, little things mean the most.

That’s the view of Paul English, co-founder and CEO of travel agency messaging app Lola, who says, “Innovation happens with small teams. The way little companies like Kayak become big companies is you hire better teams and you out-innovate.”

English, who co-founded and was the chief technology officer of Kayak from 2004 to 2013, says big companies find it hard to innovate so they acquire startups to tap into their innovation.

English recalls that back in his Kayak days, he was negotiating a deal with America Online, which agreed to take a minority stake in Kayak in late 2004, about 11 months after Kayak launched.

English says AOL officials said they liked English and co-founder Steve Hafner, but asked why they should trust a few-months-old travel startup to launch a product together when larger players were competing for the deal.

“I said, ‘We don’t yet have the platform that Expedia has. But get Dara’s [Expedia CEO Khosrowshahi’s] 10 smartest people in the room and my smartest people in the room and then decide,'” English recalls.

“And I think startups, if they are great at recruiting can create special teams. And I think all innovation happens by forming special teams and it is easier done at a startup than at a big company.”

English discussed innovation, artificial intelligence and future steps for Lola when he spoke at the Skift Global Forum 2016 in September in New York City.

At the Skift Global Forum 2016 in New York City in September, we heard from CEOs and key executives of travel startups and established brands alike.

Watch the complete discussion with Lola’s Paul English below in the following video.

Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2016

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our London event in April of 2017.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: kayak, lola, sgf2016, skift global forum

Up Next

Loading next stories