Finance

‘DenkProducties is now more creative and stable than ever’

“I still remember it like it was yesterday,” says Hans Janssen. “I was on my way to one of our evening seminars with Mark Tigchelaar, an event with 109 participants. Prime Minister Rutte announced that all events with more than a hundred people were banned. and so our business collapsed at that point. We went from 100 to zero. And that was going to take a while.”

The big switch

For Hans Janssen, just like for many other entrepreneurs, 2020 was the year of the major switch. As founder and director of DenkProducties, things have been going well for him in recent years. At that time, his company was the market leader in top seminars for entrepreneurs and executives in the Netherlands and worked with top Dutch speakers such as Ben Tiggelaar and Remco Claassen. But Janssen also knows how to get international greats on stage such as Robert Cialdini, TED founder Chris Anderson and even Barack Obama. ThinkProducties seminars stand out because of their provocative, fresh topics and their experience-rich formats. Participants are constantly on the edge of their seats. That’s the starting point. “People buy a ticket to experience my twists and turns,” says Janssen. Together with Ben Tiggelaar, he devised the seminar ‘MBA in one day’, which has been drawing full houses for fourteen years. Because of corona, this all went black at once.

Edge of the abyss

In 2015, his company was teetering on the brink of collapse. A few years earlier, Janssen had become the full owner of DenkProducties and felt like a young god who went into rooms for the first time, as he himself puts it. “I went too fast and wanted everything at once. And e-modules, and evening lectures, and this, and that. It almost went wrong. Then I learned to focus. To make choices and what you do, I chose to run high-profile, contrarian seminars for leaders with the very best speakers. That was the niche I started to focus on. I also made one thing for myself: “It will never happen to me again that I worry about whether I can still pay my suppliers.” And so I’ve been putting money aside from that point on. That was an important lesson from that difficult period in 2015.”

Financial buffer

“It is a lesson that all entrepreneurs should take to heart”, says Ralph van Dam, himself an entrepreneur and business partner Entrepreneurship at Centraal Beheer. “A pot or ‘war chest’ means that you can continue your business when things are going down financially. You then don’t have to make concessions in the field of customer focus or development, for example. That helps your company to remain successful. hard times.”

Free online seminars

Thanks to the ‘war chest’ and government support, Janssen was able to keep his company afloat during the heyday of the crisis. “We were able to retain our employees as a result. And we very quickly changed our business model. Selling tickets for physical events was no longer an option. So we opened up new markets by offering free online seminars. Just to show that we That was possible. That worked. In a short time, companies came to us who wanted us to create online content for them. And we thought through it. What if we make digital escape rooms for companies? After all, every company has a party to celebrate online That also caught on, we entered into a partnership especially for this with experience designers and made it really special.”

What characterizes the entrepreneur Hans Janssen?

“Giving people an experience. That’s what I can do. I think that’s the best thing there is. I think of something, implement it and people buy a ticket for such an event. Only when the last one has left and everything went well , I can breathe easy. I don’t shy away from taking risks. We never try out an event. Our performances always premiere immediately. That’s exciting and you have to be able to handle it. If you try a lot of new things, you fail you have to be able to handle that regularly. Moreover, there are a lot of costs for the benefit. Booking speakers costs a lot of money. They are the rock stars of this time. And the halls also cost a lot of money. Then you just have to hope you sell the tickets. But I have faith in that. I believe in our concept, go for it, take my company very seriously and no longer walk in seven locks at once.”

Business and creativity

The online business model is a success. Still, Janssen can’t wait to go back to the ‘ticket model’. “We can then put our own stamp on a show much more,” he explains. “We often make the online seminars on behalf of companies. Then we have less freedom.” The online business model may not embody his passion, but it has nevertheless brought him a lot. Janssen: “To start with, of course, business. But also the necessary creativity. That’s how I set the experience designer now also in for the real life events. It can add an extra dimension to that.”

rethink

Rethinking has also brought Janssen a lot. He gives shape to thinking by asking himself the question: what if the problem is the intention? “Our problem in this case was that the events had to be digital. But what if that is the intention? Then you start thinking in solutions. For example, you can also sell tickets abroad for a digital event. And normally we sold one seat per person, but at an online event you can give an entire company access for one amount. That is not possible with a live event. We also applied this principle during the one and a half meter measures. What if that one and a half meters is the intention? That measure is of course stupid, but not in a skybox. That’s super luxurious. So we made personal skyboxes for the events. After that, people didn’t want to sit side by side in the room.”

Off the beaten track

“It shows true passion, creativity and entrepreneurship,” says Van Dam. “Entrepreneurs who do not make concessions to their ambitions are often extremely convincing. But Janssen also shows that there are always possibilities to find new opportunities. I firmly believe that you have to walk off the beaten track for this. Take time and space to immerse yourself in a completely different world from time to time Visit that trade fair that has nothing to do with your industry Visit the company of that friend who is in a completely different sector. Be inspired and challenged by it. Then new concepts will automatically arise in your head, which you will never find in the normal daily routine.”

Next growth step

Janssen has now also installed a kind of Supervisory Board. “This, in order to move forward with the company in the field of strategy, growth and innovation. They are four sharp thinkers who also force me to do more scenario planning. These kinds of fresh, critical views are indispensable. has gone through another professionalization phase, which gives a solid feeling.” Since the corona crisis, Janssen has also joined forces with one of the largest organizers of business seminars in Europe, the Finnish Nordic Business Forum. “I saw what this company in Finland manages to achieve in the field of seminars. The biggest names, and already selling out full halls a year in advance. Impressive. With this collaboration we are ready for the next growth step. We are now part of an international group. We are now looking beyond the Netherlands.” And the blood crawls where it can’t go. Janssen: “From 2022, we want to organize one of the largest annual leadership events in the world in Amsterdam: the Amsterdam Business Forum.”

3 tips from Ralph van Dam

1. Work on a sharp vision and a clear entrepreneurial dream.

“Hans has a very good idea of ​​where he wants to go and is building towards that clear goal with a clear strategy. That is essential, because successful growth starts with a clear entrepreneurial dream.”

2. Involve employees in your entrepreneurial dream

“Make sure that your employees are included in your entrepreneurial dream and understand what is being worked towards. And use the talents of the others to be more powerful as an organization.”

3. Make Critical Sounds

‘Sparring partners ensure that you are challenged in your entrepreneurial dream. So make sure you organize criticism around you in order to maintain focus and to be able to steer towards your entrepreneurial dream.’

Solid

DenkProducties is running at full speed again and the ambitions are greater than ever. Janssen: “We work lean and mean with a small team, but we really need and want to expand now. Especially now that we are part of the Nordic Business Forum. That is quite difficult given the enormous shortage on the labor market. In retrospect, I should have hired more people at the time of the first lockdown. But afterwards it’s easy to talk.”

Janssen is happy that he is no longer alone, but that he has found a partner in his Finnish counterpart. “Entrepreneurship can be lonely,” he says. “A partner is nice. He occasionally asks difficult questions and occasionally slows me down. That is necessary and that also gives peace of mind. All in all, I think that through challenging times, DenkProducties has become stronger, more creative and more solid as The coming year will be exciting. We will see if we can live up to the high expectations: a sold-out Amsterdam Business Forum next September.”

Masterclass Strategic photo

Successful growth therefore starts with a clear entrepreneurial dream. If you have these in mind, you can work concretely on your future as an entrepreneur. Do you also want to get started with your entrepreneurial dream and strategic vision? Then you can register for the masterclass ‘Strategic Photo’ under the supervision of Ralph van Dam of Centraal Beheer. In this interactive session you will start visualizing your entrepreneurial dream. This gives you a clear picture of where you want your company to be in three to five years. Together with a small group of other growth entrepreneurs, you can make a flying start with your growth plan.

Register directly for free at Centraalbeheer.nl. There you can also read more about our masterclass ‘Leadership and team’.

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