Great chat with the dynamic, up and coming Jesse van Doren @jessevandoren, youthful Dutch entrepreneur. He works advising multinationals and startups around the globe as a growth hacker | Founder: Innovation Holland and Mapped in Holland.
Your background, what led you into what you do now?
I started at 12 years old doing marketing. I found it easier to find a job online than working in a supermarket. I am a free lancer now, with a new business developed for the industry music, which I feel can learn a lot from the fashion sector. I am 18 now.
I am not in school anymore, so that I can focus on company, especially as I am working for many people and companies. I was allowed to skip a few years, but I did also study some courses at college too.
Why is Holland the best connected ecosystem?
There are lots of tech communities here, wework is a good one, an American company that have set up a branch in the Netherlands. This meant that there were lots of people here to help you. There are lots of tech communities here to help, and lots of new companies emerging. Wework chose Amsterdam to locate, new from US, and this brought a lot of good US companies here too., and they will soon open a second building, with lots of investors. All of this helps to create a situation where Holland is a fantastically connected ecosystem.
What are you excited by at the moment in the tech sector?
Startup delta has combined different communities, with lots of different tech communities. There was but no combined structure, but now the goal is to make one combined ecosystem. In the Netherlands we are good at UX design, but we need good developers too. We are now opening up to get more of this. For example I work with developers from Israel, designers from the US.
Today it is so much easier to connect with people from all over the world from the age 10 to 25 years old especially. We have links with many countries, with a good mix of developers, designers, and youtubers. We hosted our first global event, which was very successful with many people downloading the package. There were lots of 16 year olds involved which was great to see. It’s great that everyone was very connected, we had 20 countries involved, it was a great global network.
I’m also excited about the innovation community I work with called Innovation Holland / Innovation Israel, which offers a communtiy for already proven ideas
How was the last 12 months for you / your company?
I had lots of freelancer work, Portugal, New York, working with more and more people, it’s really going well.
Anything you would do differently if you could?
I have more structure now, before I just what I liked, with lots of time talking about ideas. Now it is more structured. We take it step by step, with a clear blue print of how to roll it out. I now have a good CRM system (customer relations management system) to keep it all in one place, especially working with so many freelancers, but still trying to do it like a company.
Where do you hope to be in next 1 – 3 years?
To be honest, I don’t know! Everyday there are new ideas and opportunities. I have no idea. I will just keep doing what I do, with startups and with larger companies. The mix really helps.
Do you feel UK / Irish / European startups have different strengths and weaknesses compared to US?
The US has more funding, versus Holland where we have less funding and it is hard to get extra rounds of funding. Silicon Valley and New York have lots of communities, it is very different to Europe.
Europe is different, and has a different structure. Holland is a bit structured, maybe too much. A combination would be good, and here people work 9 – 5, and stop at 5pm. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes less so.
What tips would you give to people trying to succeed?
Don’t try to hit too many markets too quickly. Better to be more specific, go for just one city first. Use your networking, this is a real key, it’s far better if you know someone.
Also if you are young like me, then I wouldn’t mention my age initially. I built up a relationship first. In this way I worked for lots of different companies. It didn’t matter to them as we were successful, for one project we achieved over 800,000 downloads. We were very talent focused, we know 15/16 year olds who are already building great apps. This is a great place to look for talent if you are willing to not be put off by their young age.
Do you come over to the Dublin Web Summit, if so how did you find it / if not, any plans to do so?
Some of my clients said I should go. For us in Amsterdam we have Uprise upcoming, and then Nextweb coming next year too, with Delta participating too.
What tech do you wish was already invented and available to make your life easier?
To have a hyperloop from Amsterdam to NY, and a teleport.
Life / work, online / offline, what are your strategies for managing it?
I am online a lot, but I also like barbeques and I also turn off phone. I take time out, as I know I will do it later. I don’t only work 9 – 5, and like it this. I need to work with different time zones, so need to find some ways to balance my time out.
Anything else we should have asked you / you’d like to add?
We did the (The World Hackathon Day, a 24-hours hackathon we did to make youngsters go viral and show the world that age doesn’t matter. During 24-hours more than 500 youngsters from India, South-Africa, Morocco, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands hooked up at local offices as the Google Campus to invent new solutions for worldwide problems.
Here is some more information about the projects I mentioned
1. Innovation Holland
“I established the Innovation Holland community to bring more innovation inside the Netherlands. We created a community for Dutch startup entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angels and developers
2. Tomorrow Community
“I don’t believe in waiting for government officials and people with titles to take responsibility. I believe in regular people taking responsibility for our lives – not for fame, but because we really care and we love doing it. That’s why we created Tomorrow community, a global movement connecting Dutch teens to others using the universal language of technology. We attract people wanting to make their countries better through entrepreneurship. It’s like a VC for people. Tomorrow is all about smart and good people who want to help each other, by making ideas a reality. The Tomorrow movement has spread to over more than 20 different countries as India, Belgium, America, the UK, Israel and Australia.”
Met vriendelijke groet / Best regards, Jesse van Doren