“I think that’s it, Tom. When can you start?”
I studied Business Information Science at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. In 1997, a classmate helped me get a summer job at VAI (the company that Wilko launched in that same year). I liked it so much that I applied for a full-time job there. In February 1998 I had my “job interview” with Wilko. It wasn’t really an interview… After I introduced myself, Wilko talked for 45 minutes about his ideas and plans for VAI. At the end of those 45 minutes he said: “I think that’s it, Tom. When can you start?” I had lots of interesting experiences at VAI (and later BRAIN FORCE), did lots of different jobs, from technical consultant to package engineer to development manager. I had a great time.
When Wilko asked me in mid-2010 if I’d like to start a company with him, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Until the launch in January 2011, most evenings (besides our day jobs: me still at BRAIN FORCE and Wilko at Atos) we were busy giving shape to our ideas about ValueBlue (but we hadn’t come up with that name yet). We held our first company meeting in a restaurant on the A28 motorway.
Except for the three years that Wilko worked at Atos, we’ve been working together for almost 20 years in one way or another. When I think about it, that’s pretty special. I have other ValueBlue colleagues from that time too: Henk and Dennis, with whom I’ve been working since 2000.