I meet many founders and entrepreneurs who are passionately transforming their visions into concrete actions.
I am always interested in the people behind the success stories regardless of whether it is a fast-growing high-tech startup or a successfully established traditional company. What ups and downs did they experience? What motivates them and their teams every day? And most importantly, what can other founders, entrepreneurs and executives learn from them.
The story of Marc van Loo and his wife Isabelle Lacoste (the “Loo” and “La”) is one of those I frequently enjoy telling. Along with their staff, these two remarkable entrepreneurs have built LooLa, a unique eco-resort in Bintan, Indonesia.
In 2000, Marc and Isabelle received their first guests. In those days, the two were supported by ten local employees. They all spoke only very little to no English. And none of them had a degree beyond high school.
But Marc and Isabelle decided to accept this challenge. Initially, they pursued their vision with only one teacher salary. Each development phase of the resort was financed directly from revenue. To date, they have never borrowed even one dollar. Most notably, they also invested in the training and continued education of their employees.
In the end the hard work paid off: In 2015, LooLa was named “World # 1 Responsible Tourism Operator”. According to Tripadvisor, LooLa has joined the top 1% and become a world leader in family-operated resorts over the past five years.
In the meantime, Marc and Isabelle employ more than 50 local workers, many of whom now have excellent English and computer skills and run the resort almost autonomously. Flat hierarchy structures create a sense of equal responsibility among the staff.
To this day, Marc and Isabelle strongly believe that in a good business environment, everyone wins. For example, if you show your employees appreciation and develop their talents regardless of their formal qualifications, you end up with a team that is capable of doing great things.
Startups and established organizations that manage to create a strong vision and excite their teams have the potential to rise to the top of the world elite.
By the way, in recent years, LooLa has become an inspiring place for founders and startup teams around Singapore.
Cover image: Ajai AL Photography