“Made in Maastricht”. This name struck me as oddly familiar.
After rifling through my 41-year-old memory, I finally realised that my dissertation bore the same title! There’s no such thing as coincidence. In fact, when I look back, Maastricht turned out to form the basis for my life to date.
By the way, my name is Jorg Kop, I live in Utrecht with my three children and I am the founder of www.SnappCar.nl, the online marketplace for peer-to-peer car rental.
In addition to the knowledge and skills I gained during my study (including an exchange at the University of Liege and Grenoble) and internships (twice in France), the most memorable thing about Maastricht was its inherent ‘joie de vivre’. I consider myself a passenger on the good-life express, living in the present and enjoying a fun and fast-paced personal and professional life. Maastricht can therefore be considered a sort of policymaker, in both the personal and professional sense.
Let’s start with the personal: I met my wife, and many of my lifelong friends, in college. I co-founded the Lucifer Fraternity and still see the boys regularly; meeting for frequent dinners or running into the families at parties or on vacation.
On a professional level, I landed my first job at Agio Cigars. Fresh out of college, I found myself on a plane headed round the world to market cigars. The world was my playground and I entered the industry at a time when cigars were making their slow transformation from passé to popular. Looking back, I realise that the promotional stalls set up by Maastricht cigar maker Wim Otten at various galas certainly contributed to my career choice.
During one of my many trips to Madrid, I was approached by Havana Club Rum to promote the brand for Groupe Pernod Ricard in the Netherlands. A mutual beneficial relationship was born, resulting in my appointment as Marketing Director and twelve years of employment. The highlight of my time there was the acquisition of Allied Domecq and its myriad management and brand portfolio challenges. As a bartender (café Ma van Sloun, Perroen and Orcus) I was able to temper my surprise at Bacardi’s monopoly position by coming up with my own solution.
From cigars to booze to cars, the next stop on my market radar is ‘mobility’. Simply because after one hundred years, it is high time to approach this market from a different angle. After 17 years in the corporate rate race, my challenge as a budding entrepreneur is to set up a new brand (SnappCar) in a new category (peer-to-peer car sharing). Having won the New Venture competition, we were awarded the title ‘most innovative startup company of 2011’. Things really took off from there and our turbulent economy only serves to further fuel the social debate on this subject.
So goodbye international travel and 60,000 kilometres of driving per year! Today I get to enjoy a relaxing five-minute bike ride to my own office. This is a lifestyle that is perfectly suited to the flexibility this phase of life seems to require.
Jorg Kop, SBE – International Management (1988–1994)
Founder of Snappcar, online marketplace for peer-to-peer car rental