Galavito: “We Have No Limit!”

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Ece Ergüney, founder of Galavito, explains why indoor dinning will become rare in the future and how their product will keep you cozy!

Describe Galavito s.r.o. in 50 words or less.

Galavito s.r.o. is a boutique exterior design enterprise that designs, manufactures and sells an innovative outdoor infrared heating table, ideal for restaurants, cafes and terraces. Installable under any tabletop by replacing the table leg, it has a customizable look that efficiently heats from the feet and legs and saves heating costs.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

While working for the multinational cosmetics company Estée Lauder, in my hometown İstanbul, Turkey,  I immediately found out that a corporate life was not for me at all. On the contrary, it was like a prison to me where my ideas and vision were limited by headquarters, even the manager’s ideas were.

Instead, I pursued a lifestyle of unbounded creativity and freedom in entrepreneurship. Despite the huge responsibility, there is more adrenalin and fun involved, making success that much more satisfying. These reasons motivated me to undertake my own dreams, a venture where I could strive for what I truly value, to make that my life’s pursuit and to have a noticeable impact on the world.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

The best thing about entrepreneurship is that there is no “typical day in the office”. We’re constantly active in a sort of “marathon” every day and all day long. Including running to meetings, checking the production line, customer visits, installation of products, attending business networking events, presentations, gala events and more. Including weekends we are full of activities to improve our business. I don’t remember when was the last time I spent a full 8 hours inside the office, without any other activity like many of the employees nowadays, unfortunately.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

In 7 years, outdoor dining will be much more attractive globally, people will be enjoying open-air evenings even in the coldest countries with coldest seasons, thanks to outdoor heating tables. Toxic and pungent gas heaters will no longer be a concern due to electrical infrared heating that directly heats surrounding objects (not the air). The environment will be clean and fresh due to the elimination of ineffective gas or wooden heaters. Restaurants and households will save money for more valuable purposes through the reduction in heating and energy costs. Cold weather will no longer be a problem for open-air events as heating tables will provide a source of comfort even in the most chilling and unexpected conditions. With more convenient and cosy outdoor seating, indoor dining will become the minority.

In terms of design and technology, Galavito will be at the forefront of exterior innovation. We will instigate the breakthrough trends that enliven the outdoor experience for other companies to emulate and follow.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

We measure our success mainly according to sales activities and customer delight. If our customers are more than satisfied they illustrate this by buying additional heating tables and even recommending it to their contacts in the HORECA sector. This is better than any other number. The creation of strong relationships is important in evaluating our outreach as we focus on expanding our network and keeping keeping our brand awareness alive.

Not to lose track, we always follow through with our clients, personal relations and long-term partnerships. We always strive to be visible within our network and ensure our quality reputation is up to scratch, in our small, yet intensive market in the Czech Republic, together with Europe.

Which countries in the world you would like to expand?

Even though we started in the Czech Republic, where we produce our products and have focused the launch of our heating table in the first season as the core of our targeted European market, we have no limit. We are looking for distributors in all around the world, preferably already in the similar sectors such as outdoor furniture, decoration, lighting targeting similar B2B groups such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars. If anybody is interested in, they are welcome to contact us.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the outdoor heating table like you imagined it in the beginning?

We believe that we have pivoted from the get-go with our first client, which is the best restaurant in the Czech Republic: Terasa U Zlaté Studně in Golden Well 5 Star Hotel. Reference customers are always important and door openers, initiators. Since launching we are ecstatic to have received positive feedback and our clients are delighted as their patrons are pleased and the restaurants save a lot on energy costs. They use our heating tables exactly how we imagined, only with much more product customization than we expected – which are the challenges we love!

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

Beyond the Galavito profits we have have multiple sources that support us as we grow. Our own savings, family support (financially and operationally) and our other project which is called ČeskoTurecko / ÇekTürk as a natural result of our Czech – Turkish business partnership. This project is based on providing all possible services you could imagine in both countries in regards to trade, education and cultural integration. In the future, we will be adding to Galavito’s product portfolio with new innovative products and we will automatize the ČeskoTurecko project to be more online.

What were the biggest challenges you faced building your startup?

Financial planning, as almost every startup will experience, as well as technological know-how for our product were the greatest challenges for us. We overcame them thanks to a primary cooperation with experts in design and engineering from the Czech Technical University (CTU) and also a cooperation with InovaJET, a great startup incubator related with CTU.

Besides these two challenges, being a first time foreign entrepreneur in the Czech Republic with no knowledge of the Czech language and culture including business culture at the very beginning was a big obstacle. This is something I have been able to tackle over time and improve on thanks to courses, daily communication and overall experience.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

The key is through constant innovation! It’s faster and much more effective than anything else. Always by being the first to catch the latest trends and technology. Currently, we are boutique enterprise producing heating tables for top class, luxury design concept restaurants and hotels, with the option of customization. By being a smaller firm we can react and respond to market demands quickly and develop with our customers. We keep our ears peeled for our clients wishes and desires and we continue to reiterate the design stages to make sure we keep one-step ahead of our competitors.

What do you look for in team members?

Hardworking, trustable, creative, not afraid of sharing their opinions, contributive, and initiative people are always welcome in our team. The importance is to have synergy through constant communication and collaboration and the team members should share the same dream with us. The frequencies should be the same to be able to work in an enjoyable and pleasant way.

Why would a talent join your team?

To change outdoor living and dining around the world! To be part of a pioneering enterprise that instigates innovation and allows creativity to flow. Anybody who joins our team would definitely learn and experience something interesting, not only about our particular market and trade, but their own personal development. We’re all about giving members the freedom to explore their potential as well as collaborate with other experts who enjoy what they do.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

To win the Most Innovative Product in 2013 by AMSP, even before having a prototype our concept design proved to be award winning. And at that time we had hardly a clue, nor complete confidence of the potential of our venture. We were in İstanbul with my Czech business partner Milan Hnatek so unfortunately we couldn’t attend the award ceremony but we were ecstatic when we received the news.

This was the point we decided to go for it 100 % as the outside world believes in our idea, only in the idea!

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Every entrepreneur runs into their road blocks, it’s important to keep level headed and remember why you decided to pursue you’re venture from the start. My top pieces of advice would be to not to focus on financial problems but just start with a minimum budget, with your own savings even, if it’s a good idea it gain finance in time. Plus, entering competitions is a great way to gain those extra funds that can act as that extra support. Turn the challenges into successes, by overcoming a obstacle it adds to your experience and skills, learn from it and transform it into an advantage. Don’t listen outsiders, especially the ones who have never tried to achieve their dreams. If you’ve done you’re research and listened to those with experience then jump in. See the gap in the market and go for it!



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