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37. Wouter van der Lelij (LGB '93)

Posted By Alumni Office, mardi 26 avril 2016

Wouter van der Lelijagenda.ch sàrl

> Founded 2011
> agenda.ch

  

1. What is your company’s product/service?
We are revolutionizing appointment booking for professionals in Switzerland, by proposing online booking with SMS reminders, and a rating service allowing clients to give feedback.

2. Where was it founded and where do you now have offices?
We are based in Geneva, four tram stops from LGB. We will always be a local Swiss company!

3. Number of employees at peak (and now)?
We are currently four full-time plus three people part-time.

4. What was the hardest thing about building the company?
For me, the biggest ingredient for success as an entrepreneur is to experience and transmit to others a deep drive in what you are trying to accomplish, while finding a balance to make sure that you don’t kill yourself trying. I believe that it boils down to understanding the “why” of what you are doing and where you want to go.

So although this is the fifth business I’ve created (including the local website JobUP, that I sold successfully in 2008), agenda.ch has probably been one of the most difficult to take off. When I started agenda.ch, five years ago, the market was not ready, and I was not involved enough in the daily operations.

Today, I’ve found a new drive; I learned a lot about myself and I understand better what it is I like about this project. And that is; creating something new, simple and revolutionary, being the underdog while beating the odds against big players, meeting and convincing local professionals to use our service, and being independent. Right now, it is really starting to pick up, over 350 local professionals use our service every day and I want to triple that amount over the next year.

5. Where do you see your company in three years?
We will be a local company that tens of thousands of Swiss people use every day, probably without even knowing it when they book their appointments, with many satisfied customers  ranging from physiotherapists, garages,  bowling alleys to big hospitals  where my employees and myself are happy to come to work every day.

We will be able to answer the question: is there a good dermatologist in Carouge that is available this afternoon?

6. Do any other Ecolint alumni work with you?
My Ecolint classmate and best friend for life Fabrice Beaux, the successful founder of local IT services company Interhyve sàrl, is part-time CTO.

7. In what ways (if any!) did your Ecolint education help you in founding a company?
It wasn’t the education as such, it was the experience…I loved the seven years I spent at Ecolint, and I think fondly back on it almost every day. At the time, I did not realize the power of the unique international environment which taught me many things.

Although this does not answer the question; I do believe there was (at the time?*) a huge deficiency in Guidance; students in 13th grade were specifically encouraged to undertake a university education, especially in the US and UK, perhaps because this looked good on statistics, while this is clearly not something for everyone. I believe Ecolint Guidance could have done a better job by helping students learn about themselves; what are their deep drives, and what do they want to get out of life? For me, having people being connected to their drives makes them successful and happy in what they do, and to me this is a true measure of a good education.

To get back to the question, come to think of it, my love for providing local services may be a direct consequence of the frustration I have felt about the “explosion” that happens after graduation from Ecolint; most classmates are scattered all over the world. Although that is a fun idea, in practice over the years it becomes difficult to keep up relations with friends that I would have wanted to hold closer. And since I’m not really into social networks…

 

 * Editor's note: Naturally Guidance services at Ecolint have evolved greatly in the 20+ years since Wouter graduated. Across the Foundation students are now offered extensive advice ahead of and during their IB studies, both on their university options and alternative paths. There are career evenings on all three campuses, and the IB Career-related Programme is offered at Campus des Nations.


 

More about the Ecolint Entrepreneurs project.

Tags:  agenda  booking  geneva  online  rating  reviews  Switzerland 

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