J. Kelly Hoey

Innovator Insights: @Felicia_S_ Cofounder of 30SecondsToFly

Name: Felicia Schneiderhan Title: Cofounder of 30SecondsToFly Twitter: @Felicia_S_

Felicia Schneiderhan is an economist and journalist. She has studied at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Humboldt University Berlin and New York University (NYU) in New York. Then in 2013, she accidentally discovered she was an entrepreneur. Felicia is the co-founder of 30SecondsToFly, the first artificially intelligent travel assistant. She is also a member of Dreamers // Doers, a highly curated community of high-achieving trailblazing women who come together to support each other on their entrepreneurial paths. The community encompasses a diverse mix of female founders, women working at startups, and other female creators, change-makers, and influencers.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Felicia: It happened by accident. I’ve always wanted to work for the United Nations and I did a bunch of internships in the public sector. My first product, the Blackbun, was never intended to become a business. I built it to solve my own problem of thin hair and while I used it almost every day it never crossed my mind to become self-employed with it. I always thought that I wasn’t the type of person to do that. When a friend, who is an amazing business women, told me that I should turn it into a product, it took me another 6 months before I started sourcing it. That was fun and I had too much time during study break anyways. From there, I gradually got sucked into it. Building a business with a supply chain, a brand, and everything around it was so much fun and responded so well to what I was good at that it became crystal clear to me that that is what I need to do with my life.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Felicia: I see many businesses, especially SMEs, missing out to manage their travel in an efficient way. This wastes so much time and money. We, the team behind 30SecondsToFly, are working on solving this problem for SMEs in the most efficient and least intrusive way possible. We are providing an artificially intelligent assistant that takes care of the whole travel management of an organization. Claire knows corporate travel policies and learns employees preferences. She is an A.I. and is available 24/7.

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Felicia: There is one piece of advice that I always fall back to when I encounter a situation that appears really difficult. “Nach eins kommt zwei”, is what my mom always says and it means something like “after one there is two”. It reminds me to break down one large problem into many small challenges that I can solve one at a time.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Felicia: Success is something very elusive for me because I notice my benchmarks and my own expectations of myself increase quietly with my accomplishments. That’s very tricky, because it implies the danger of becoming restless. I try to remind myself that in the end, success is to be happy. I know, however, that I do need to feel accomplished to be able to be happy. The process of building something that is of value to a lot of people is one key ingredient to my personal happiness sauce. Another key ingredient is spending quality time with the people I love, my family and my closest friends. Most of the time both ingredients are very difficult to balance. The day that I’m good enough at business to allow myself to generously allocate my time, I can proudly say that I’m successful.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Felicia: I adore Aaron Swartz. He was a genius and a great entrepreneur, but what I admire most about him are the values and the courage he had. There is something fundamentally broken with our system and he saw it and wanted to fix it. He was a brilliant idealist with an urge to drive change on a large scale. In 2011 he played a major part in mobilizing support against two bills threatening the freedom of the internet and managed to stop both of them, a miracle nobody had expected to happen. Aaron was extremely smart, with a great understanding of technology and reality and he actually wanted to dedicate his exceptional gifts to politics. His death was and is a tragedy. I think he would have done great things for society. We missed out big time.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Felicia: It feels like I’m discovering something new about life every other week so it is difficult to figure out which insight is most valuable. One discovery though that sticks out and that I played a major part in is the German sushi. We came up with the recipe before going to a potluck with friends and I highly recommend trying it!

Here’s the recipe: Put a layer of sticky sushi rice on a nori leaf. Add German sausage (=Wurst) + avocado + fried bacon + sriracha sauce (modestly). Roll up, cut in pieces.

It’s called “wurst sushi ever” and tastes surprisingly delicious.

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Felicia: Runs with scissors

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Felicia: There are two things I should have learnt much earlier: Coding and moonwalking. Sometimes, when there is an awkward situation, I wish I could just moonwalk myself backwards out of the room, silently.

Me: Anything else we should know about?

Felicia: We will launch our beta version of Claire for a handful of selected businesses early 2016. For businesses who are interested to join the waitlist, they can do so on our website (www.30secondstofly.com). For preferred access, please shoot us an email felicia@30secondstofly.com.


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