Interview with Jenny You, Co-Founder of YOU. Group

As YOU. Group’s co-founder & former General Manager at Merlin Entertainments, Jenny You has spent over 12 years in the Hotel Industry prior to moving into Tourism Attraction Management. In hotels, every day started with data, and business strategy was firmly rooted in hard numbers and competitor benchmarks. After changing industries, she was soon overwhelmed by the hours spent trying to gather her own market data.

Selling products on Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and left without many resources to support her online sales strategy, Jenny recognized the potential of a company who could fulfill this missing need for the ‘Things To Do’ (TTD) Industry.

Mature segments like airlines and hotels are already reaping the benefits of a strong data culture and she wanted to bring these benefits to the TTD segment as well. And so Jenny set out to achieve her goal which is to “Be your trusted data partner so you can focus on your core business.”

“Data is valuable. Data is everywhere. We make jobs easier for the ‘Things To Do’ industry by helping improve their product performance & competitive edge through our Data Community.”

Where did the idea for YOU. Group come from?

Jenny You: My main motivation for starting this business was the daily problems I had during my 6 years running Madame Tussauds Hong Kong as General Manager. And the solution to this problem happens to be a mature business model that has already existed for a long time in the Hotel industry, which I’ve also worked in for 12 years. So, I decide to fill the gap.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Jenny You: Get up at 5:30am, and start my day with a 1 hour workout. It helps give me enough energy for a busy day. Most of my time is spent establishing the strategy for our product’s data analysis and development, and a lot of time is also put in to Sales & Marketing. We’ve got to know what our customers need. Exploring the changing needs of customers, and improving the value our product brings to them is my daily work. But my daily tasks are not only centered on my own productivity, I’ve got to make sure my team can work effectively. Concentration and parallel tasks do not conflict, as long as you understand the priorities.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Jenny You: Put every step to test in the market and accept customer feedback. Our idea evolved a lot from the beginning to the present, and it’s undergone a world of change. So, don’t wait for the product to become perfect before bringing it to life. In fact, there is no perfect product, because customers and the market change every day.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Jenny You: Our world is undergoing tremendous changes every day. It’s become more and more difficult to manage business with experience and subjectivity. More and more people are beginning to pay attention and use data, and ultimately benefit from data. This trend excites me and I hope we can be part of this shift.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Jenny You: I break down goals into importance and priority to execute. I always give instant feedback to my team and partners, and have effective communication during the execution. My own productivity can’t measure success as much as the efficiency and collaboration of my team – their productivity is a much better indicator of success.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Jenny You: I would say, start to workout NOW. lol

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Jenny You: People can’t believe there’s no one providing online travel business data analysis and benchmarking insights for the ‘Things To Do’ industry. So many industries have benefited from data, it almost seems impossible that this sector of the travel industry is still sleeping on the trend.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Jenny You: Remember client needs! Never stop asking yourself “how is my product solving their problems?”

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Jenny You: Whether it’s a pilot or a free download, our strategy is to allow customers to benefit from our products first and we encourage them to share their opinions. Demand is formed invisibly, and we become more valuable through feedback.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Jenny You: We lost business because we couldn’t meet client’s expectations, but at the same time, it forced us to think and be innovative, and we finally improved our business model and achieved scalable demand.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Jenny You: “Virtual Online Experiences” has become more and more popular as a “travel trend” during COVID-19. These are activities you can purchase from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and enjoy remotely from home. You don’t need a house or attraction, just a way to share something you know about that others may want to explore. Everybody can create and sell their experiences on platforms like Airbnb, Viator, and GetYourGuide.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Jenny You: After working overtime yesterday, I went to have pizza and drinks together with my team. We spend a lot of time working together, but spending this kind of ‘after hours’ time together helps get to know each other and build our relationship.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Jenny You: Asana helps us prioritize tasks, set deadlines, be agile, and be transparent about what everyone is working on. Post-it notes are great, but we need to use tools to be super efficient and effective if we want to accomplish our goals.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Jenny You: I’m re-reading an old book recently – “The Definitive Drucker: Challenges For Tomorrow’s Executives — Final Advice From the Father of Modern Management.” I bought it a few years ago, before I became an entrepreneur, this time around it’s even more meaningful.

What is your favorite quote?

Jenny You: It is not a quote from the book, but it’s a quote that correlates with how I look at business and strategy:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

-Sun Tzu

Key Learnings:

Jenny You:

  • What can be learned from change?
  • Efficient collaboration and teamwork is productive work.
  • One phrase should constantly repeat in your brain – “What are the customer’s needs?”

Originally published on Ideamensch.com

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