How to make a million with your mates, and stay friends!

Tom, Olivia and Kurt have known each other since they were 16 years old. Now business partners and co-developers of the successful travel app NAVA, their relationship has had to evolve with their company - and together they’ve gone from strength to strength!

Tom and Olivia first had the idea to develop an app to help people explore international cities, and discover hidden gems away from the usual tourist tracks, when they were enjoying a year abroad in Munich. Starting with a problem - wanting to find cool and unique places to visit, they imagined the perfect solution – an easy-to-use app! Kurt later joined them, and the team of friends made the app a reality.

Now a team of eight, and bringing in revenue in the hundreds of thousands, NAVA is due to expand into even more cities with global partners across the world.

So how have the group of mates managed the transition from inventors to managers?

Each of them has always had an entrepreneurial streak, it seems, with (Chief Executive Officer) Tom selling sweets at school, (Chief Operating Officer) Olivia working in hospitality after growing up in different European countries and (Chief Product Officer) Kurt setting up his own record label. And they had a great idea!

If you are thinking of creating a start-up with your mates, here are some tips from the NAVA team to help keep your business AND friendships afloat!


  • Working together has its advantages: solo-founders have to make every decision by themselves. Remember the value of having friends to creatively bounce ideas around with.
  • Don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations - you need to feel able to be honest with each other and hear fresh perspectives. Learn not to take any differences of opinion personally.
  • Spend time together away from work doing what you’d normally do as mates. Know when to switch off, and establish boundaries that let you all leave work behind at times.
  • Understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and how you can complement each other.
  • Most importantly, you should trust each other - as friends and colleagues.
Young and in charge: is youth an advantage in business?
Reframing failure
Can you have a business AND a life?