I’m a technologist at heart. Being intrigued by tech and sci-fi starting from an early age.
R2D2 and C3PO (robots from Star Wars) are still my robot heros hanging on my bedroom wall. Gary Gearloose, was my childhood hero, since I always wanted to become an inventor that came up with crazy-ass ideas.
I was that kid in class that would ask the math teacher; ‘didn’t you forget the homework?” “Why is that true? Can you show me? Why is that?” Let’s just say I wasn’t the most popular kid in school.
In 2005 I discovered YouTube and I was immediately obsessed. Shooting videos of my DIY projects. Filming all sorts of crazy inventions that I came up with made of LEGO, waste or other things around the house.
I put those inventions in great story lines, mann how I wish I still have that fantasy from back than.
I was allowed to play games on the computer of my dad, but I didn’t care too much. I was into building websites and creating torrents in the early ages of the world wide web. Using software like the Adobe suite to create special effects (yep, lightsabers were included!) and make music in FL Studio. I was so obsessed with all the opportunities this computer power offered to me. My creativity was in an artistic flow almost.
During my time in high school I entered the class named: ‘Technasium’. Which was brand new back than, I was allowed to do tech projects at the age of 12. Being an architecture for a month, an engineer for a month etc etc. I got to do cool projects such as building zoos, tools for the blind, ships and even bacteria incubators. Wow, was I fascinated by all the things mankind could create.
All this time, my passion was to CREATE. To develop that wasn’t.
The moment I heard I was allowed to study on the University of Technology Delft (Industrial Design Engineer) I was beyond psyched.
I mean, this was the University known for the nuon solar team, the storm umbrella and all sorts of cool inventions that changed the world.
Since I wanted to become an inventor, Industrial Design was the sweet spot for me.
But I noticed one thing. Just inventing stuff isn’t enough to change the world. You should also be able to BRING it to the market. This was the first time, the crazy word ‘entrepreneur’ (that I still have trouble with pronouncing) became something of interest.
I joint the honours programme of my faculty and I met many other disciplines on the campus (electrical, mechanical, computer, civil- engineering).
It was this time I started my first startup: Binder — done that. A social book sharing platform where students could exchange/buy books from one another disregarding their financial situation. It solves the issue of not having your books because they are expensive and the other hand the owner’s books that are catching dust on the shelve that can actaully make some money / meet interesting new people. I learned a lot about building business plans / marketing etc.
We even partnered with some serious players (IHC as one of them) we got our own office and grew our team from 4 to 6 people all dedicated to bring the ‘Airbnb of books’ the biggest library in the world (without owning any books) out there.
It was also during this time that I decided to study robotics within the robotics industry of the University of Technology Delft. Since my lifelong passion for robots, I was like a kid in the candy store looking all the crazy stuff that was going on. I could hardly grasp any of it since it was so complex (coding and hardware on pioneering levels.)
Unfortunately, during this period as well, my mom was a very bad sleeper. She was so bad at sleeping that it really impacted her life. The only thing she had was addictive medication with unwanted side-effects.
Being inspired by (soft) robots such as Baymax and EVE (Wall-E), both amazing pixar movies, I wanted to help my mother sleep naturally with the use of the technology of tomorrow. Soft robotics.
This was the moment Somnox was born. Which turned out to be quite the adventure…