Tom van de Beek – Founder & Chief of The Tipping Point

By having a plan in my head and just start doing it. Not much on paper, no giant business plans. Just start, shape and sharpen the concept along the way.

Tom van de Beek is a social entrepreneur with a staunch belief in starting at the beginning, with a seed. Having built a professional career in the fields of business, communications and development he has now crystallised his mission to catalyse conscious, sustainable communities across the globe. He is passionate about wild unbridled nature and the connection of humanity in modern society.

After earning his degree in Business Communications he went on to work in several organisations, including starting up a media company, before hitting the road independently. Currently he focuses more and more energy on catalysing multiple audacious future oriented start-ups through the Bushwick Holding and through his foundation The Tipping Point. The foundation aims at accelerating the transition towards a sustainable society. On one hand, by integrating nature within the city and on the other, motivating people to connect more with nature, outside the city. His projects vary from concept development and setting up awareness campaigns to practically building new models for a just and sustainable society of the 21st century. He is contributing to the development of communications regarding the connection with segmented groups in society, in order to reach a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Having sown many seeds of positive change and being confronted with major dilemmas of our time, Tom considers himself an innerpreneur. He believes he reaps positivity through a holistic approach that combines personal fulfilment with business. In his quest to better understand life as a whole, he has a keen interest in transition, ecology vs economy and effective communication for positive social change. “Sustainability is more than providing technological solutions for today’s problems. It’s also about a mind shift and about reconnecting man’s relationship to nature and each other. Human beings and nature are essentially one, and from that very realisation we shape our lives day by day”.

Where did the idea for KantoorKaravaan come from?

The idea started from the fact that me and my friends, who were all working as social venturers and sustainability advocates, started looking for ways of working that better suited our lifestyles. We were kind of tired of working in a boring office space in the city – the concrete jungle – especially while we knew we’re able to be out in the wild all the time, and still do the same work! In the end this crystallised into off-the-grid mobile micro-offices we can easily move from place to place in nature.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I don’t have typical days. What every day has in common though is that I try and be outside for a big part of the day. My – very active – dog forces me too anyways. Meetings shouldn’t be longer than one hour, and besides that, if I feel a passion for something I can easily work from 7 am until 11pm, as long as there’s enough variation.

How do you bring ideas to life?

By having a plan in my head and just start doing it. Not much on paper, no giant business plans. Just start, shape and sharpen the concept along the way.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I actually love the trend of the tiny house movement. Since it shows us that we can be happy without lots of stuff. And it also refers to the nomadic lifestyle people had for such a long time in the past.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My phone is in my hand for 20 hours a day 😉 . I try and respond right away on every message, mail, call, or whatever, so that I keep a clear to do list and a clear head.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

That’s a tough one, since I kind of liked all my jobs. Well, maybe it was being a newspaper boy for three years starting at 15. Waking up at 5am every morning definitely cost me a year at high school since I was always so tired during the day..

In a way I learnt what it is to have discipline.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure if I would do things differently actually. Talking about ‘career’, I might have started sooner with my entrepreneurship, but on the other hand I feel that working for a bigger organization when you’re young has quite a few benefits, especially when you have someone as some sort of ‘mentor’.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

It might be the fact that I’m a non-conformist and just choose to do the things I really want to do. Be authentic and remain intransigent when it comes to what you believe in.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I’ve always just started and worked with a lot of passion, never losing sight of the bigger picture. The business plans, the targets, the deadlines: all good, but for me not from the start. Let’s say that’s phase two and three. When reaching that stage, find someone – or make sure you have a dedicated team – who can pick up from there. Speaking about people: it’s the most important and most overlooked part of starting a business: getting the right people on board to do the right things.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not putting down anything on paper in terms of collaboration with partners, from the start. When times are tough, this will often lead to conflict, since people have different ideas, especially when money is concerned. It took me quite a while to accept this fact, since I prefer to base partnerships on trust, not on contracts.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

So many ideas, but one is the business idea of starting a thing called ‘TRANSFARMERS’. I believe the current food system is really at a dead end (decreasing biodiversity, pesticide use, GMOs, monoculture, soil depletion, high dependence on fossil fuels etc) , which is quite dangerous, since we all depend on it in our survival. The last sixty years have showed a decline in the amount of farmers, at least in the ‘west’. They just disappeared. I think we’re on the brink of a new era, where people will actually want to be (part time)farmers again. In urban areas to start with, but we will also see the rise of neo-ruralism coming. In order to speed up that process, I would love to see the start of a movement of heroes and villains, operating under the name of Transfarmers – we all know what the Transformers were capable of, right? We need transformer kind of people! I have the idea right here, I’m just waiting for people who love to join me and make it happen!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent in on shoes actually. Bought the eco conscious TWOTHIRDS / VANS Vault skateshoes. TWOTHIRDS’ namesake comes from the notion that two-thirds of our planet is covered by ocean. This young enterprise, follows the “cradle-to-cradle” strategy with two product lines: TWOTHIRDS Recycled features recycled and recyclable items, and TWOTHIRDS Organic with organic and biodegradable products.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Just basic Apple software actually, nothing fancy. I love WeTransfer to send big files, I listen to Spotify, and I use Basecamp and Google Drive for project management. I recently discovered Crowdfire for social media (Twitter) management, and I love programs like Thunderclap and Nouncy to spread the buzz. Use SquareSpace for building websites.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

There’s two I want to recommend:

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

The Breakdown of Nations by Leopold Kohr

Although both books are quite old (50’s), their message is stronger and more relevant than ever. We need to look at life in a totally different way. At life, and then obviously also at the systems we created. Look at them carefully and you’ll see that those ideas, those concepts, have so many flaws that it is now – more than ever before – so necessary to break down those systems, and start living lives that are worth living for everybody, and for all life on the planet. Both books have a radical message, but I’d say they also offer a radically awesome alternative.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I love to read stuff on the Economics of Happiness.

In general i can say that the works of Jiddu Krishnamurti have influenced me for a big part. You can find a lot of his tremendous work on

Finally I absolutely recommend the Dark Mountain Manifesto by Paul Kingsnorth: Read it!


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