Judith Eyck: Unexpectedly becoming an entrepreneur and being great at it
Judith Eyck is the type of person who goes for the things she’s set her mind to. Even when they seem distant and scary. Even when she, herself, can use a word of encouragement. She’s determined and knows what she wants. She’s full of energy and always positive.
While she has been paving her way as a successful entrepreneur over the past years, Judith didn’t always dream to have her own company. Entrepreneurship found her, in a way, not the other way around. Yet, one thing that has been consistent throughout her career has been its focus on the digital world.
“My journey has always been digital,” she says. “My Bachelor’s thesis was focused on digital art and it was a preparation for my Master’s thesis, where I looked at how art galleries sell products online.”
Searching for the right place for herself after graduation, Judith decided to take a turn away from digital art and explore the field of e-commerce. It couldn’t get more digital than that. She joined Sunweb, one of the leading travel brands in Europe, and immediately focused on data and innovation.
What’s important to know about Judith is that she always strives for more. She wants to know how things work, how they can be optimised and once she’s figured it out and done it, she wants to know more. “I want to have the biggest picture possible,” she says. “When I did affiliate marketing at Sunweb, that wasn’t enough – I wanted to do the entire marketing. Then I wanted to do the whole e-commerce. I was always entrepreneurial in that way.”
And while she has always toyed with the idea of being her own boss, she never expected to start her own company.
Becoming an entrepreneur, somewhat unexpectedly
It was Joost Romeijn, founder of Subweb, who suggested to Judith that the two of them start a business together. He even had a URL (and later the official name) for it: vakanties.nl.
“I have to say that it wasn’t my initiative to start vakanties.nl,” Judith says. “It was Joost’s. I really enjoyed my job at the time, but he convinced me to do it and I love that it happened.”
Today, vakanties.nl is among the most prominent holiday booking platforms in the Netherlands and has been growing steadily over the past years. It is the platform that focuses on, what Judith calls, conversational e-commerce.
When they started, she remembers doing her research and realizing that people spend hours searching for the perfect holiday. “We wanted to do this differently,” Judith says. “We created a more lively interface and added more conversation like you would normally experience booking a holiday if you went to the travel agent. We wanted to bring that offline experience online.”
Vakanties.nl has a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI) exactly for the reason of making it easier for users to make the right choices. The platform also has a real-time connection with hotels, airlines and other service providers to be able to offer flexible holiday packages.
And if running one successful company wasn’t enough, last year, in the middle of the pandemic, Judith made a move to acquire travel comparison platform Zoover. It was a logical next step considering the industry she’s in as well as an opportunity to bring two great teams together.
It took only four months to complete the integration and get the teams to work as one, and it is something Judith is particularly proud of. After all, she loves working with motivated and driven people.
While building a company from scratch and acquiring another may have posed challenges along the way, Judith and her team have tackled them successfully on the road to success. What will be her next entrepreneurial endeavour is a matter of time but if history is any indication, it will surely be an ambitious one.
Listen to the Up!Rotterdam podcast with Judith below, or check all the episodes of the Up!Rotterdam podcast here.