[quote style=”boxed”]If you want to start-up a business, consider crowdfunding. Getting the masses to support your plan will bring your future business to great heights.[/quote]
Thijs Geerdink (31 years old) is CEO of Sprowd.com, a global crowdfunding concept. He started developing a plan for the company and forming a team around the idea about three years ago. The team developed Sprowd to create a brand new way to fund people’s business dreams. It all starts with pitchers creating and publishing their very own business plans on Sprowd.com. Romantic small business plans are welcome, as are the most ground-breaking ideas. Whether you want to start your own restaurant, take over Microsoft or do something unheard of like creating a car that drives on water, Sprowd.com is the place to get ideas supported.
Sprowd is not only a way to get your business plan funded, but is also a way to stand on the shoulders of many. The platform enables people to benefit financially when a plan becomes a business. Imagine building a company backed by believers who have both an emotional and financial interest in your success. They just might push you forward any way they can.
Thijs started his first online business more than seven years ago and hasn’t stopped thinking of new e-business possibilities since then. He has worked in the fields of product management, agile development processes and online marketing. Thijs resides in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is in a relationship with his beautiful girlfriend, Astrid, and they have a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Anna. Thijs is a graduate of the Free University of Amsterdam.
What are you working on right now?
Sprowd is not officially open to pitchers yet. To do this, we need investment money ourselves to set-up Sprowd as a company. We decided to walk our own talk and get Sprowd funded through a beta version of our service. This is what we are working on right now. My goal is to let the world know Sprowd is here, and that it is easy and fun to join our company as an investor. I hope that even companies who challenge the most status quo can sprout via our platform. It is my belief that this is exactly what the world needs to become a more beautiful place. Investing starts at just €10, or $12.
Where did the idea for Sprowd.com come from?
Three years ago I was stunned by how hard it is to start-up a company that is based on a big idea. I wanted to create Sprowd for people with big ideas, and I’m glad that we are well underway. I really believe the world will be a more amazing place if those types of ideas get a real chance. We need to make Sprowd a success for those people; they need to be empowered and supported to the max so they can launch and grow their businesses.
What does your typical day look like?
I still have a full-time job at a web development agency. Right now I’m leading a strategic web development team at ING Bank. My main goal is to make this team work in more agile way via the Agile Scrum methodology. After work, I speed home to work on Sprowd. Every weekend, the team comes together to develop the Sprowd concept even further.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Transpiration. You have to keep going, and you have to keep both the team and yourself focused on shipping the right stuff.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Crowdfunding. It is getting more and more serious. Governments all over the world have the crowdfunding topic on their agendas. I believe the energy and funds that digital networks can bring to this playing field are unbelievable.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was an e-business consultant at a consulting firm once. The problem was that e-business wasn’t the company’s core business. This resulted in me not having much to do. There were no clients at all. The lesson I learned was that when you work at a large firm, you’d better be involved in the core of its operations.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
At first we thought we needed a traditional investment to build Sprowd as a company. We had been in conversation with about 30 venture capitalists. We even got some offers. But after a while, we came to the conclusion that we needed to get the funds we need through our own concept. After a while, it felt like that was the only way to move forward. If I were to start again, I would go for the “Sprowd on Sprowd” approach right away. More and more people are joining our company as investors. They come from all over the world. This is a fantastic movement to be part of.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get the best people on board that you possibly can. It takes a lot of time to find them, and lots of persuasion to get them on board, but it pays off in the end.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At some point in time, I felt that some people were getting less motivated to work on the concept for free. We’ve invested years of spare time and weekends in this. Some people didn’t have the motivation go on. I had to remove them from the team and get them replaced. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it was the best thing to do for Sprowd at that moment.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you want to start-up a business, consider crowdfunding. Getting the masses to support your plan will bring your future business to great heights.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would change the current education system in The Netherlands. It’s killing creativity and energy. To be honest, it is hard to come up with a detailed plan right now, but my approach would involve more of a focus on students’ talents and passions.
Tell us a secret.
I’m addicted to everything that has an Apple logo on it–even the books.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Flipboard. It’s so elegant and easy to stay up-to-date
- Spotify offers unlimited music. Do I need to say more?
- Pocket is great for saving blog items for later reading.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Good to Great by Jim Collins. In it, Collins states that “almost any organization can substantially improve its stature and performance, perhaps even become great, if it conscientiously applies the framework of ideas found and used by ‘Good to Great’ companies.” It’s a classic that I think everyone should read at least once.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Yesterday, when my daughter tried to pronounce my name. It sounded like, “Tzzeaijzj.” She gets a +1 for trying, though.
Who is your hero?
Tony Hsieh, the former visionary CEO of Zappos. His unique emphasis on corporate culture has led him to unprecedented success.
Pay prospective new employees $2,000 to quit their current jobs. Make customer service a focus of the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the top priority. Apply research on the science of happiness towards running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too. And remember, there is nothing harder to accomplish than selling women’s shoes online.
Thijs Geerdink on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/thijsgeerdink
Thijs Geerdink on Twitter: @thijsgeerdink
Sprowd on Twitter: @sprowd
Sprowd’s website: www.sprowd.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.