October 10, 2019

Experience: "I launched my startup in the worst possible week"

Hannah Cox was excited to launch her travel startup the other week. But then the implosion of WeWork and the collapse of ThomasCook threw it all off track.

Hannah Cox

2 min read

Four months ago, I decided to stop freelancing and focus full-time on launching a startup. My idea was to try and organise small-group travel experiences solely for business owners, and I was really excited about it.

I had even worked on my one-sentence elevator pitch. When asked about my business a few months ago, I would simply say: “In the way that WeWork has redefined office space, betternotstop redefines business travel”.

To get it moving I joined WeWork Labs, first in Hamburg and then later in Manchester. The support and advice from their team of managers and mentors has been invaluable in getting my business off the ground so quickly.


Finally, I was ready to launch. But, as luck would have it, I picked perhaps the worst week you could possibly imagine to kick off operations.

Firstly, WeWork imploded. This preoccupied all the people in WeWork Labs, distracting them from work with stories about the group's founder, Adam Newman, and the company's pulled public listing.

As you can imagine, this was also not great for my “I’m like WeWork” elevator pitch.

The next bit of not-so-great news for a travel business startup was that Thomas Cook, one of the oldest travel companies in the world, went bust, leaving thousands of employees out of work and 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad. Not great for people's trust in tour operators.

In short, it was a nightmare start!

There are some silver linings, however. I am telling myself that there are opportunities in any time of disruption.

Firstly, it is clear that the old models of the travel industry are changing.

What is more, if the business survives, the challenges of my first few weeks will, I am sure, help me to become more resilient as a founder.

Now I just need to stop worrying about other people and just focus on doing a good job. That's what will matter in the end.

As the two words I have optimistically written on a post-it note on my laptop say: “Execution Wins”.

Hannah Cox is founder of betternotstop, organising small-group travel experiences for business owners. Prior to this she has 15 years experience in events and project management.