Influencer Darrel Hoek

Interview January 2019

Darrel we have come to know you as a very dynamic, inspiring, ethical person and Influencer in our society since 2015. As the CEO/owner of KlikoLimpi you have been evolving as an entrepreneur for some years now. Could you share some personal facts of you and your family?
“I was born in Curaçao, I have one daugther and I now live happily with Dulcine, my significant other. My mother who is a former administrative worker and civil servant, always had a side business while, she held a fulltime job. She sold cloths, towels, underwear and did also catering. When she did her sales and collected payments at the end of the month, at times we joint her in her car, while she was driving around. So in that sense, I had a role model. She has always been and still is very supportive. She triggered me: “To be honest with myself and with others”. I still appreciate this very much.”

When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Well, this dates back since I was very young. I was always saving money. The savings I used to buy books to sell, and at first I wasn’t very successful in my sales abilities. Nobody wanted to buy my books, no cousins, no neighbors, no one. They used to tease me, by calling me a “salesman, selling Insurances”. When I was in Holland for my studies, I used to buy clothes at a wholesale outlet and sold these, just like I saw my mother do as I was growing up. During those days the business was impressive, you know and I had a real apartment and not a simple student room, so I needed to earn the money to afford this apartment and I was successful in doing that. In 1995 I came back to Curaçao after I received a very attractive job offer. As an entrepreneur over the years, I have slowly, but surely honed my entrepreneurial skills going through what they would call the School of Hard Knocks — or University of Hard Knocks. Meaning the (sometimes painful) education one gets from life’s usually negative experiences, often contrasted with formal education.

When did you start with KlikoLimpi?
I got this business idea via a friend, Ton Marten from Bonitha Blokhutten on the 16th of August 2006 and it became operational on the first of April 2011. It took me 4 years of preparation, to get started.

Basically, I am very grateful for Ton to keep on insisting, after my initial skepticism. First it was totally out of my original HRM-background and I didn’t want to import business ideas that worked in Holland “one on one” in the Curaçao environment. But then I decided to look at this with an open mind and…… the rest is history.

Have you ever worked for a boss?
In Holland, I had worked different jobs as a student and started my career after my study as a HRM-professional. I was very happy with this job. In Curaçao after I came back also, but not for very long. The organizational culture didn’t fit my urge to feel free. The culture was basically limiting me to grow. I had and still have this inexplicable urge to learn and grow. So I quit this job and embarked as a consultant for a company in Barbados, Trinidad and finally Suriname.

Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from?
I think it is a calling and It had to manifest itself someway or the other. When I quit my job to become a consultant, I was young and unprepared. I was a qualified HR-expert, but being an entrepreneur was something totally different. In fact, I went totally broke twice. The last time I went broke, I was in Suriname as an entrepreneur. Because of scarcity and as someone not born nor raised in Suriname, eager to earn money to survive, I saw opportunities where others, living there, didn’t notice that was also a big learning moment for me.

I discovered that I am a survivor. I can fall, but I will always rise again. When I started KlikoLimpi I experienced also a lot of problems, but this time I kept believing in myself and I was convinced that one day we would turn the tables and get back on course and even expand this business and create other spin-off businesses. As we speak, 2019 will be a break-out year. I have other business ideas that are now still in the incubators phase. Some will become operational very soon this year.”

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
I always wanted, in hindsight, to create my own playground with the things I initiate and by doing just that, serve other people. Like yesterday, I climbed back on one of the trucks of KlikoLimpi and worked and this feeling of doing this whenever I feel like…call it freedom, that is what I really cherish.

What kind of services does KlikoLimpi offers?
We wash kliko’s of companies and households.

How many employees do you have employed now?
After hiring 43 different employees, I am very proud to say that we have 5 employees at work at KlikoLimpi of which 2 are full-timers.

What is the secret of this success up to now?
Loyalty, I can best describe our organizational culture as “a group of ants”. We work like “ants” and help each other like “ants” too. We have had our challenges, but these workers stayed loyal to the company.

This year end, we gave them an increased bonus compared with the year before. They had on average only one day of sickness leave, over the whole year.

You know when you and I met each other in 2015, at that time I had broken my left hand while continue working on my truck as I was learning the skill how to attract the right kind of employees for KlikoLimpi. So I have come from very far. We also have very loyal customers as we have gone through different challenges. “Loyalty” is our most important company value.

What are you doing to keep up with your knowledge and skills?
“I like reading books, watching you tubes, follow courses, I invest in networks and people that might help me further with my business(es). I am a people’s person and connect easily and that is why I love meeting different kinds of people and I have a vast network. I am a good storyteller, I inspire others, connect with people to get on board of my ventures, where needed.”

Why is this so important for you?
It gives me so much inpiration and new ideas. By doing this I learn a lot and grow in different areas that I am interested in. But, creating new jobs for others also give me so much satifaction.

What are your other strengths?
I have this ability to take an idea, I pick up and translate this in a very practical way and make it work by applying this. This is based on the University of Hard Knocks experiences.

I am able to live with less, I don’t mind not having fancy stuff. I can and have sacrified the short term benefits to reach my goals. This is one of the strategies I used, to overcome the issues with KlikoLimpi. You know this year we are going on vacation after a very long time.

Another strength I learned after my bankcruptcy in Suriname, I came back to Curaçao and I rebounded as an entrepreneur. I started selling marinades, fish and shrimps while preparing KlikoLimpi. I still had an enormous curiosity and I belief that is the key to my ability to bounce back. I am always finding a way to make it happen.

I am also a people’s manager and I connect easily, creating over time an increasing local and international network, and this has created a “goodwill factor” that has and still is serving me well. I am very grateful for this.

Do you have other hobbies or interests that you are passionate about?
I love doing sports (CrossFit, biking and diving) and I work consciously on my overall life balance, which includes regular meditation. I love reading books. When I was a child, I used to read a lot. Like my parents had a subscription to National Geographic and had an Encyclopedia collection. So I ended up spending more time reading these books, because I preferred that over being teased by other children because I was stuttering. Because of this reading habit, I could fantasize a lot and this kept me going and kept me focused on achieving the goals/projects that I set my mind on to achieve. In due time, I developed the skill to turn a dream into an action plan and now also take the necessary action steps to make it work. I could reason very well and although my environment was not directly supportive, because we have no extensive family entrepreneurial tradition, through all my experiences and curiosity I kept my essence pure and developed a skill to set boundaries regarding whom I work with and whom not. I am very good at this now.”

If you as Darrel, would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
“An adventurer, I also create a future for others and myself. I have big dreams, but at the same time I can stand with both my feet on the ground.”

How would you describe Darrel in one word or one sentence?
Inspiration, inspired by others and inspiring others.

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
I had and still have different mentors. Once I discovered how important mentorship could be for me, it taught me that I am not alone. There are people that belief in you and whom are willing to guide you;

– My mother of course, as she modelled entrepreneurship;
– Inspiring leaders I come to know from books;
– Other business leaders and I have also learned from negative role models btw.

What are some of the challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strenghts?
My decision to come to Curaçao from Holland. If I had to do it again, I would decide to stay in Holland for my flourishing career, I would have probably become an entrepreneur at a much later stage. I would have prepared myself much better than the way I decided now to become an entrepreneur. I would have looked for a senior entrepreneur to mentor me and develop an ability to be more careful in the partnerships that I decided to work with.

Another defining moment was the moment I couldn’t find work as a consultant due to lack of network etc etc. It later turned out to be a blessing, because Ton insisted that I should explore the idea of KlikoLimpi. I am very grateful for this.

This year I will launch some other businesses that are spin-offs from KlikoLimpi, that will create additional employment opportunities. I can’t go into too many details yet, but we are on track to make this year 2019 our break-out year, with new businesses.

Where do you want to be 5 to 10 years from now with your business(es)?
I would, based on a balanced life, then have moved away from operational tasks and to become a person more involved in managing some businesses, but also helping and inspiring others – based on my experiences and contacts – with setting up and developing their businesses from scratch.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years years from now?
He did it his way. Don’t forget that I became an entrepreneur against the tide of most people in my direct environment discouraging me and telling me to stay away from the unknown and to avoid taking risks.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
I firmly believe that Curaçao has lots of opportunities and different opportunities than the usual suspects. But to create value out of these opportunities requires a different mindset. Look for other opportunities far different than we are accustomed to looking at. We need to be flexible with ourselves. I have come from far, from being HRM-consultant to a director of KlikoLimpi, right? You have to be willing to take 8 steps back before you can move forward. You need to have a supportive direct circle of influence surrounding you like Dulcine, my significant other is very supportive in what I am doing. You have to have a curious mind, I invest a lot in upgrading my skills and knowledge in areas of my interest. You have to get over your fears and self-imposed mental boundaries. I once forced myself to learn scuba diving in spite of my initial fears, because I thought that one day this might become helpful in one of the business ideas that I am exploring.

Do you want to share anything else that might be relevant for those reading this blog?
Yes, I would recommend starting entrepreneurs to:

– Stick to the dreams that you have, if it feels like the right thing to do;
– Look for people with relevant information and knowledge to mentor you;
– Invest in learning the skills and knowledge needed to forward your goals. I have become an expert in areas that were initially totally different from my areas of expertise, but now I am an expert;

2019 will be my break out year, after working year in year out on my dreams. It is like building a pyramide, layer after layer. At times having my doubts, but then as I am very good in fantasizing or after reading a book, this inspires me to pick myself up again and stay in the course.

KlikoLimpi is and has been a social and employment project. But I build and honed my entrepreneuerial skills doing this and this is now benefiting me to create other businesses that will also create new employment opportunities. My plans will also generate and/or save foreign exchange and I also have regional international ambitions.”

One of the 250 Influencers
As the core group of Share2Uplift we love and deeply respect Darrel Hoek whom as an entrepreneur has been growing, consolidating and expanding. We definitely consider him one of the 250 ethical leaders of our Island, that continuously works at value and jobs in our society. 2019 will be his break-out year and we will definitely hear more from him soon.

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