Meet Jan Oudeman, an adventurous techie and founder of Grivy.com
Hello, Jan! Let’s start with where you are from?
I am Dutch and decided to move to the Far East to get away as far as possible from our beautiful small country. Not that I didn’t like it there, but I was looking for another adventure. My wife and I looked on the map, saw the archipelago and thought, “This looks really nice, let’s go there!”
Have you lived elsewhere before Indonesia?
The first time I arrived in Indonesia was in 2008. Back then I worked for a software company. After two years, I went back to Europe for my studies. Just before we came to Jakarta my wife and I lived in Cape Town and Madrid.
Are you an adventurous person?
You decide: I got robbed by a group of 20 thieves in South Africa, drove through the Namib dessert in a Fiat Uno, rode on Ostriches, (almost) stepped on a Cape Cobra, did a lot of wild camping in Indonesia (and had several encounters with people with knives sitting next to our tent in the middle of the night!), stood eye to eye with a black panther in Ujung Kulon and went on exciting jungle trips with our 22-year-old Jeep CJ 7 Limited Edition, which wasn’t always very reliable (especially when it would start to rain).
Tell us about your business, Grivy.com and how it started.
Grivy is my own start-up that is incorporated as a Limited Liability Company in Indonesia. Jakarta has a lot to offer with respect to leisure activities, however finding something fun to do at a good price isn’t always easy. That is where we come in. Grivy helps you to discover great leisure deals, and the best part is that you decide how much to pay for it. These deals are leisure activities that you normally do in your free time – anything from going to a restaurant to white water rafting in Bali – up for bid through our online auction platform.
How is Grivy unique from other e-commerce apps or websites?
Grivy is the first start-up in Southeast Asia to offer online leisure activity auctions. We knew, however that developing a high tech auction platform would take time. As we wanted to interact with both customers and merchants as soon as possible, we decided to also offer other types of interesting deals and promotions in addition to the online auctions that will be launched in the coming weeks.
Currently, Grivy promotes dining deals (book online and get discounts based on when you dine, card deals, etc.), locate credit card benefits from your favourite merchants and card issuer, and soon local deals – you can get more than 50% discount on online deal packages and auction deals. Next month we will launch three native mobile applications for BlackBerry, iOS and Android, all with built-in location-based technology which makes it very easy to find great deals near your current location.
Have you encountered any difficulties in executing Grivy in Jakarta? What’s most challenging in starting Grivy?
For start-ups that develop online platforms, the challenge is to get a good amount of users and merchants on board. We did quite a lot of user acquisition experiments which, I have to say, brought us good results.
At the age of 27 is this your only business? Do you envision having other businesses in the future?
Before Grivy.com I had another internet start-up that employers used to match job agencies and their available candidates with the employers’ vacant job positions. I will be focusing on Grivy for the coming years, as we are here to build a sustainable business. I am a bit of a geek and I love new technology. If there would be another business in the future, then it would definitely be another internet venture.
Are there any disadvantages of having your own business at a young age?
I don’t think so. Being young and building an online business is an advantage as we are able to use and develop the latest technologies available in the market. Our generation is very much digitally-orientated and these days all needed tools and systems are available at a relatively low cost.
With the birth of Grivy, I’d think you’re a fan of eating out. What area of Jakarta do you frequent for eating out?
That’s right. Anything Mediterranean (I love Italy!) with a good glass of red wine would do. I love French, Italian, Turkish and Greek cuisine. I love to eat out as much as I eat at home as my wife is a fantastic cook; she makes her own yoghurts with oven baked honey cereals, prepares the most delicious pastas with fresh home-made basil sauce, or mouth-watering hummus with Turkish baked bread and barbequed minced lamb meat, so yes I am very blessed with my beautiful wife that sends lots of love through my stomach.
Are there any tips for young entrepreneurs like yourself, trying to start their own start-ups in Jakarta?
“Screw it, let’s do it!” Richard Branson would say and this is very true. You might end up with a fantastic business plan but in the end you just have to do it and make it happen. Jakarta is a great place for business with lots of opportunities. Many business ideas that have worked in other countries are not here yet, so executing those in the Indonesian market are real opportunities.
What’s your ideal vacation spot?
Flores and nearby islands, which look like they come straight from the Jurassic Park movies; very wild with staggering volcanoes, great nature and white sandy beaches with small sharks and sea turtles swimming around you. Amazing!
Would you care to share a story that confirms your love of Indonesia?
Oh yes. I do quite a lot of mountain biking in Bintaro where you still have rice fields. One morning, I was cycling through someone’s garden in the kampung, or should I say through someone’s bathroom as there was this gentleman sitting on his toilet in the rice field, waving at me, and with a big smile he said, “Selamat pagi!” Can you imagine? In Holland if you look over someone’s gate they would get angry with you!
Do you have a hobby or an organization you belong to?
In my free time I act as the treasurer of a non-government organization, overseeing the financials of 25 outreach partner projects. It’s very rewarding to see what all of our orphanages, street children projects, scholarships and elderly homes have achieved over many years of hard work, which is generously supported by the members of our church All Saints Jakarta and outside donors.
If you weren’t a businessman, what would you be doing in a city like Jakarta?
If not for business, I wouldn’t be living in Jakarta. No, that’s a joke. I mean Indonesia is a beautiful country, but Jakarta is a city that has many problems (and opportunities!) that never seem to get solved as nobody seems to be taking responsibility.
What makes a great businessman?
I would say that success can never be separated from the team that made it possible. Even with the most robust technology, it’s still the team that determines success.
Thanks for your time, Jan! To contact Jan Oudeman, email [email protected].