Active Citizen #7 – Jorik Schröder
Active Citizens is a Journey City Guides series where we interview the people who participate in making their own city a vibrant and exciting place. With each new guide we ask questions to two personalities: an entrepreneur deeply rooted in its city and the owner of a business featured in our city guides.
Our first Amsterdam interview is with Jorik Schröder, a serial entrepreneur in the gift card sector. His latest venture, Flightgiftcard, lets you offer a gift card for a flight with more than 300 airlines in the world.
In his free time Jorik loves going out in Amsterdam, meeting his INSEAD friends around the world and taking care of his two nephews.
Hi Jorik, could you tell us more about yourself?
Hi, I’m Jorik. I grew up 50 kilometers south of Amsterdam. I studied Economics in Groningen and Salamanca and started my first company during my studies. My first company was a hotel gift card company, which I launched in 2009.
In 2011 I joined Booz & Company, followed by an INSEAD MBA in 2014. Next, I worked at a small private equity fund for three years, until just a few months ago. I’ve now quit my job to focus fully on my new venture Flightgiftcard, a gift card for all major airlines worldwide.
In my spare time I love to go out in Amsterdam, travel when possible, and love to play with my nephews Florian and Tobias. I have been living in Amsterdam since 2008 and still enjoy the city every day.
Tell us about your vision when starting Flightgiftcard, and what led you to start this adventure?
Well, at the time of writing this we’ve just launched Flightgiftcard, so we’re still at the start of this new adventure 🙂
But to tell you how it all started: I love to travel and prefer to give experiences rather than things. The reason is that experiences last, they are shared with the people you care about. Strangely, there was no gift card that gives you the freedom to choose from all major airlines worldwide. Some airlines do offer gift cards, but then you’re restricted to that airline brand. Consequently, the idea for Flightgiftcard was born.
With Flightgiftcard you give someone the freedom to fly anywhere, whenever they want. We work with over 300 airlines, including all major airline brands such as British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas, KLM, Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France, etc. We target the people that want to give their loved ones or relations the relaxing trip they’ve been longing for for a long time. Some might also give it as an incentive to visit, for example to someone’s kids if they live abroad.
The concept is simple: let’s say you give a €200 Flightgiftcard. The gift recipient goes to the Flightgiftcard.com and books the desired flight. On the payment page the value code of €200 is entered. If the flight is more expensive than the gift card, the balance can be paid for by credit card. If cheaper, the remainder stays valid for another booking. We sell gift cards in 15 currencies – regardless of the currency: every Flightgiftcard can be used to book all flights for all airlines.
What the future holds for you?
Business wise, hopefully a successful launch of Flightgiftcard! For next year the plan is to launch another gift card concept, we’re currently in the process of selecting the new focus area. But at the moment I’m still enjoying the first few months as an entrepreneur again. The freedom, a nice office, and a passionate team make it, in my opinion, the best job in the world. A bit of a rollercoaster sometimes, but sure worth it.
In my private life I plan to keep on doing what I do now, and that’s to live life to the fullest. Amsterdam really is a bit of a playground given all the events that take place, and I still enjoy it every day.
Where do you live in Amsterdam and what do you like about your neighborhood?
I live on the south side of the city. I love the area for its old architecture, the Vondelpark, the good restaurants and cafes, and the proximity to the centre. Amsterdam is best during the summertime (July and August), when the park is packed with people enjoying the sun.
Where do you go to escape the city for a weekend?
Anywhere possible, but generally abroad. There are many nice cities in the Netherlands, but nothing compares to Amsterdam.. As such, when I escape the city for a weekend I tend to go abroad. I’m still in very good contact with an international group of friends from INSEAD – we try to meet up somewhere in the world every few months, organized by a person who lives there. The best trip so far was Lebanon; we visited the old city of Byblos, enjoyed the amazing hummus they have there, and went clubbing in an old bomb shelter.
If you didn’t live in Amsterdam, where would you like to live?
Either in Sydney or New York. Both are vibrant cities with a high quality of life. I’m currently learning kitesurfing, and though I’m still learning it I’d love to do that every day on Bondi Beach before work.
Nonetheless, I must say that I would miss Amsterdam. Every morning and evening I hop on my bike (favourite form of transport of course) and ride from the Herengracht, under the Rijksmuseum, to my home. Living so close to work, with all the great cafes and friends around, is something I wouldn’t like to miss.
What’s your favourite city to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I don’t have a favourite city, but I do like to visit Austria for skiing. Next trip is to Ischgl in a few weeks time. I heard the ski area is great, lifts are fast and new, and the apres-ski is unparalleled, so very much looking forward to that!
And go have a look at Flightgiftcard’s website for a great present idea!