Talk about your professional career. How did you come into your current role?
I founded my first consulting company, Business Associates Europe, back in 2007 while I was still a student in the Netherlands. Since graduating, I’ve worked in several industries, and I became interested in film in 2012 after I joined a Swiss initiative called “Thought For Food,” which produced a documentary about sustainable agriculture aimed at investors and policymakers across the globe. While working with media entrepreneurs, I noticed a need for better connections between film producers and investors. That experience led me to AXIOM Pictures, an entertainment equity fund that helps pair media entrepreneurs with investors, where I am now a managing partner of AXIOM Venture Capital.
How did the concept of AXIOM Venture Capital originate?
We noticed that more film studios were trying to pursue proper corporate financing instead of funding projects on an individual basis. With my experience in both industries, I was a perfect fit to help companies connect with each other.
What is your average workday like? How do you make the most of it?
Every day is different, which is how I like it. I try to keep my daily to-do lists short and focused on specific tasks that will have the most impact on a given project. Much of my time is spent on the phone or in meetings. I typically go out to lunch with different friends during the week. I don’t do business over lunch unless I have to because that social time helps me recharge.
How do you turn ideas into realities?
I’ve heard plenty of great ideas over the years, but when it comes to finding an investor for a project, you need to be sure that there is an audience for it. Do market research. Interview experts in the field. Ideas that are grounded in data and information are more likely to succeed.
What’s a current trend that excites you?
I like how on-demand services are driving businesses to pay closer attention to efficiency. In the entertainment industry specifically, I like that most professionals are freelancers, which means they typically have experience working with a variety of companies and teams. I believe that more industries would benefit from such a model.
What’s a habit that helps keep you productive?
Nutrition can have a significant effect on how productive I am, so I always keep healthy snacks around and eat a light lunch. I always make sure to factor eating into my schedule so that I have enough fuel. Many people tend to neglect diet and exercise when work becomes stressful, but I’ve found that I have to prioritize both to maintain peak efficiency.
What wisdom would you share with your younger self?
I wish I had been more trusting of my own intuition as a young entrepreneur. Going with my gut has always turned out well, but sometimes I missed opportunities to take decisive action because I was trying to keep my options open.
What is something you do as an entrepreneur that you recommend everyone else should do too?
I talk to strangers all the time. Airports, hotels and conferences are great places to start conversations with people, and I’ve made a lot of special connections this way. I especially enjoy meeting individuals outside of the finance and entertainment industries because they can give me a fresh perspective. When you only talk to people like yourself, it’s easy to adopt a narrow view of the world.
What’s one strategy that has been particularly helpful for growing your business?
My love for small talk has brought me a lot of referrals and recommendations. Anytime you expand your social circle, you increase the likelihood of finding your next client or business partner. When I’m working on a project with someone, I always ask if there’s anyone else who would be interested in what we are doing. This strategy has been very effective at creating new opportunities for collaboration.
Describe a failure you experienced as an entrepreneur. How did you overcome it?
Being an entrepreneur entails a lot of failure. You can read and research as much as you want, but you only truly learn from trial and error. Back when I was a student, I learned about a helpful concept called “the rule of five,” which most airline pilots are familiar with. When a plane crashes, it’s usually the result of five different failures. Likewise, single mistakes rarely derail a business project, but a series of mistakes can cause a catastrophe. Small, preventable problems often get overlooked because they don’t seem important independently, yet cutting corners here and there can lead to failure in the long run. Therefore, when plans go awry, I try to determine if it was an isolated occurrence or if it was inevitable based on other things that went wrong.
Describe the best $100 you recently spent. What did you buy and why?
I just signed up for an online course at Edx.org. They partner with prestigious universities from all over the world to offer classes in finance, technology and dozens of other topics. I’m a big proponent of continuous education.
What types of software and web services do you use? Why do you like them?
I’ve been using Highrise, an email-based CRM, for about a decade now. Because it’s so lightweight, Highrise is perfect for entrepreneurs like myself who just need the most basic CRM features.
What is one book that everyone should read?
“The Richard Burton Diaries” edited by Chris Williams has been a great source of inspiration for me. As a collection of anecdotes and journal entries from the legendary actor, it’s easy to pick up anytime for a quick laugh or words of inspiration.