Influencer Boudino de Jongh

Interview December 2018

Boudino de Jong, dreamer, entrepreneurial and innovative
“I was born in Curaçao and I don’t have other brothers or sisters. I am the stepfather of a 3 and 4 years old, my partner is expecting our first child within soon. My parents are still alive and I care a lot for them. I studied in Holland in Groningen at the Rijks Universiteit Groningen (2007 – 2016), but because of my innate curiosity, I also worked during that time. I also spend 6 months in Barcelona. I didn’t exclusively dedicate all my time to my formal studies. I have a Bachelor International Business in Holland and a Masters degree in Strategic Innovation Management.

I have always been kind of restless, call it drive and passion in my personal journey. I was always into exploring. I have always worked and earned some money on the side and I was always doing things, that I really enjoyed and liked. I had started our businesses in Curaçao, I had finalized my thesis and still had one exam to finish my studies. But, I was pretty sure of what I wanted to do. You know at times that’s a problem because as focused as I can be, the moment you are involved in more businesses at the same time that could become a challenge. But in hindsight we have a pretty good success rate, because in the end it is all about the execution. I want to experience so many things at the same time….”

Have you always loved entrepreneurship?
“Yes, since I was kid I used to collect shells and sold them to tourists. I have always been a dreamer and I wanted everything, but when the dreams become plans with a deadline, they are not a dream anymore. That has never stopped over the years. My dreams have kept developing themselves and once I achieved them, I developed new ones. I always told myself: “Keep my wishes coming, keep on dreaming and keep striving for either commercial or non-commercial dreams.”

What are the companies you are involved in?
With my business partner Gino Jacobs, we are involved in Skempi. It is an online music streaming platform for independent music, it started in the Caribbean, but now also entails international music.

Profound projects. It is a digital agency, that is focused on digital innovation to facilitate digital transformation of companies;

And of late, this year Skenicash. It is a customer loyalty program based on digital raffles every month and differs from a point redemption program where you collect points through your purchases. All these companies are innovative.

What is your last big dream?
“One example of my continued dreaming is the big transition we are in right now from being a local market based group of companies, into companies that are mostly global oriented. Let’s be clear on this, the local market in Curaçao, which included people from Curaçao living in Holland, has helped us come as far as we are right now, so we are deeply appreciative of that. But since 1,5 year we are transforming into a more internationally oriented company. I believe that we have our destiny in our own hands, but there are certain things outside our control. Let us say, you can be as entrepreneurial as you can possibly be, but if your market is Venezuela and the economy implodes, that will still not work for you. So because of the small scale of the local market and the vulnerability of some international markets, we are forced to put our eggs in more baskets. It gives us more assurance and growth possibilities. So, our dreams and ambitions are international simply because of the diseconomies of scale. A small market has its limitations, and that is why we didn’t want to stay depended solely on the local market. This triggers us to stay innovative and keep re-inventing ourselves.”

What is your opinion on the entrepreneurship on Curaçao?
You know, the number of entrepreneurs we have in Curaçao is shockingly little. We hired some flex office spaces for a while at Scharloo and we could take notice how small the number of local entrepreneurs were that we met, while the expectations were that this place would be sold out in a blink of the eye. That didn’t happen. I belief that our educational system plays a role in this and most of our family households, with the best intentions of parents for their children, don’t stimulate their children to become entrepreneurs. The ideal career for very long was and still is, to let the next generation become great professionals. Furthermore there are not so many role models available and the government in Curaçao, doesn’t facilitate and stimulate enough local entrepreneurship, although we can clearly see small improvements from the government side.”

Are you optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
“We need to anticipate more the coming disruptive changes in the world. We on Curaçao will not be excluded from these changes, like the rise of cryptocurrencies as an example. These changes will come and are unstoppable. We need the same kind of innovative spirit when Mr. Smeets developed the Off-shore and Trust financial sector in the past, that was the single most innovative product developed in the past decades in Curaçao. We need to develop an innovative product, I believe we can, if we start teaching our children program codes for examples. Program codes is a language just like Papiamento. Teach them these new tools instead of stifle their entrepreneurial spirit as I belief the existing educational system does, too much. Why not create a Silicon Valley type of sector. Just like Pietermaai has become a creative neighborhood, why not develop a creative industry comparable with the creative sector in Pietermaai. Why not be a front runner in introducing electric infrastructure and electric cars? Why not use our brain trust that are successful internationally as role models and advisors to prove to our upcoming generations what is possible. Why not attract digital nomads that align their efforts within our education system? I believe that we should start small. I believe that a lot is possible.”

What is your biggest takeaway up to now in being an entrepreneur?
“We have become more experienced in our entrepreneurial skills. It was action learning, but anyway this resulted in making us more able to roll out new ideas on the market in a much smaller time span, Skenicash for example.

We also continue to learn by looking at what our local and international competitors are doing. I read a lot of books and read online, but I am focusing on the subject matter that I need to know more off. So I am very selective and that serves me well. I never read novels for example.”

Whom were you role models?
“Well I didn’t learn it from my mother or father. I liked what a distant family was doing, but most of all I read books that inspires me. And as I am the average of the 5 persons I meet the most, those 5 persons in my circle of influence, push me out of my comfort zone and there is where I learn the most.”

What are your strengths?
• “I am very empathic towards colleagues and other people. I am a people’s person. If I don’t manage this well it drains me;
• I am very visual, this is of great help when we are involved in innovation. I can see so clearly in my mind’s eye and finally
• I don’t mind working very hard.”

What was a defining moment in your life?
“My big defining moments were twofold:
The first one, was the moment I decided to become an entrepreneur. That was in February 2012 in my student attic in Groningen Holland. I was having this inner self talk with myself. It was clear to me, that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and start something for myself, the issue was when. I was finalizing my Bachelor degree. So one line of thinking in my self talk was, dedicate the next 1,5 years fully to finish my masters degree, find a great job to put my Bachelors and Masters degrees work for me, have a family and kids, buy a house with a mortgage and when I would turn 45 years old, start my own business. I would have more mental peace and then take the leap forward into the unknown. But then, suddenly it hit me. I am only 24 years old I said to myself and if I would have to wait, till I would have turned 45 years old …that would be a long time from now (then 2012) …and then I thought, it is never a good moment, so I concluded the sooner, the better and I started immediately to take some steps and started my own company and started telling everybody that I did just that. In hindsight, I have no regrets whatsoever, contrary to that, it has not been easy. It has been the opposite of having a smooth ride, it was sacrifice after sacrifice. But by just getting started, that feeling gave me such a great sense of accomplishment.

The second defining moment was, the moment I decided to collaborate with Gino Jacobs, my business partner. First we started with Skempi and then we started with Profound projects and after that we started growing exponentially. But that moment in time was my other defining moment. I had to let go of another company that I had started, to be able to collaborate in this partnership. And as Frank Sinatra sings: “I did it my way, I do what I like and I have no regrets”. This is better than regrets afterwards on missed opportunities, for sure.”

What is your BIG WHY? Where does your drive come from?
Well to tell you frankly, I don’t really know. I believe there were some big success stories that I read about. I thought, that if they could do it, why can’t we do it? We aim high, and we are still trying to reach our never ending stream of new goals and targets. As long as we are having fun doing what we do, as long as we are able to materialize our dreams, I will keep doing this. Einstein once said: “Imagination is the preview of coming attractions.”

And as I told you before, I am a very visual person in my visualizations. I always start with the end in mind and I anticipate all possible solutions visually. Even as detailed as, how would the client react when he receives the email we send to him. That works for me and for us.”

How would you rate your life’s balance?
“Well an “A” for my effort, but in reality a 6 meaning there is room for improvement. I didn’t do enough sports the last two years. I have done some diving, surfing, swimming, free diving and snorkeling and I am planning to pick up jogging again. But there is definitely room for improvement.”

Do you meditate?
“Yes, I meditate. I am aware of the power of meditation and how it releases mental blocks as you become one with the Universe. I have picked it up again recently under the guidance of a meditation teacher and I am increasing the frequency of my meditations. I love the idea of going within oneself. I belief in a higher being and I am humble enough in managing my ego. It is OK to have a high self esteem, but I am humble enough to understand that what I create is not 100 % to be credited to my sole efforts.”

Where do you want to be 5 to 10 years from now?
“Be almost completely independent of all my companies from operational tasks, to full time be able to dedicate my focus on high level innovative developments or entering new markets. I would like to own a hedge fund, this is my passion, that successfully invests in high potential start-ups.

I would have financial freedom and more time for travel and more time to spend with my family. I am making it my challenge to appreciate the small things. I like being in the now as this is a big challenge for me right now, as I am restless and always thinking about the future, and find it difficult to let go.”

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you, let’s say 40 years from now?
“That I was always ready to help, that I was a caring father, son, grandson. That I am a goal getter, I walked my talk, I have a done a lot for our society, because as my businesses have grown, I gave back to the society. I believe in giving back to the society and consider this to be a blessing. At this moment, since one year I am a member of the Rotary of Curaçao and we do lots of charity and our companies donates some funds to a foundation aimed at taking care of dogs.”

How important is the organizational culture in the three business that you run?
“Culture according to us makes our company unique. Culture is one of most valuable assets. We deliberately cultivate a certain culture in our companies, because as we are going to continue to grow, we would need different mechanism to keep everybody aligned towards our goals and targets. One of the most relevant policies we apply is the development of 6 collective company mantras.

1. Have fun;
2. make it happen: We do what we say, we are going to do, in the agreed upon deadlines, while maintaining ownership and accountability;
3. We turn obstacles into opportunities. We have had our share of extremely challenging moments, we aim at embracing and turning a moment of panic, into the greatest opportunity for growth;
4. Eliminate politics. At our meeting all of us are equal and you can bring up anything in our meetings, as long as you can substantiate it, with no back talking and in an open dialogue;
5. The client perception is sacred, this is our strongest marketing strategy, we will do everything possible to keep our clients happy. Our company’s reputation is scared;
6. We have high standards and work continuously towards improvement and direct implementation in our drive to be more innovative and more professional.

How many employees are employed by you?

“We have now 12 high end people working as employees for us in Curaçao, we collaborate with developers in India and and we have some freelancers in Holland. All our employees are younger than 30 years old and we recruit those that love to do the work we offer and don’t have a primarily money incentive. We like shaping our new employees to meet our requirements and the younger they are, the better that is possible.”

Like Timothy (as we were doing the interview Timothy passes by), we could personally ask Timothy some questions.

Timothy, why do you work here?
“It is a very unique place to work, you need to be able to:
• manage your stress well because the deadlines are sharp;
• do some quick thinking and
• be solution oriented.”

Timothy was at the UoC doing Civil Engineering and HRM, but loves what he’s doing now because:
“You are instantly being confronted with challenges, going through new experiences and learning cycles every single day when dealing with new clients and new sectors.”

One of the 250 Community influencers
As the core group of Share2Uplift we love and deeply respect Boudino de Jongh whom, as a young entrepreneur and his innovative spirit, is serving our community even though he thinks global. We definitely consider him one of the 250 ethical leaders of our Island, that continuously works at creating value for the whole of the society and the rest of the world.

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