Nick van Breda is a trendwatcher, founder of Can-Do productions initiative, editor-in-chief and contributor to Articulum. Nick is a proactive and inspiring co-creator who believes in the power of collaboration, open innovation and learning. Nick took a long winding road from Hospitality Management to entrepreneurship. He is passionate about building communities, both online and offline, and inspires other people to achieve their goals.
In today’s interview for Magazine MN Nick van Breda shares insights into his entrepreneurial journey and lessons learned along the way. Nick also talks about his experience as a co-creator, blogger and intern at INNOKINETICS, a company that provides SME’s and larger enterprises with a smart and complete toolkit-solution to start developing a genuine co-creative and collaborative culture within the organization.
Magazine MN: How did you become interested in entrepreneurship?
Nick: When my gaming addiction got me into a position where I could either hide myself in a room for the rest of my life or start doing something for the rest of the world. When my uncle died just after his retirement (he ran a cow farm for over 40 years and dreamed of being an inventor after his retirement), I knew what I had to do. I quit gaming, started discovering the opportunities in the world and began surrounding myself with like-minded young entrepreneurs. And yes, I only needed a small success to start believing in myself.
Magazine MN: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Nick: Failure goes hand-in-hand with success. It happens when you make your first attempts in learning. Work on something with all your passion. You may fall over stairs, but it will never break you down. The best advice that I have ever been given was for a book article on www.anderswerken.eu with my title: “Dare to give, this way you can turn a naughty dream into a reality”. (“Naughty” with the following meaning - somewhat an impossibly aspiring dream like Phonebloks)
Magazine MN: Previously, you worked in a Hospitality industry. What was your greatest discovery about people and business during that period?
Nick: People are very easy to convince when you know how to treat them. In hospitality you go for the heart instead of a cold sale. You always aim for customers coming back and talking about you. Keep in mind that customer is king and people want to be treated as people. This requires a wide range of knowledge from empathy to social skills. I would recommend everyone to work as close as possible with their end consumers.
My daily goal today represents what hospitality is about - give at least one person a smile on his face every day. Small tasks like these can make you a better person already. And when everyone does it, well.. think about how the world would look like tomorrow.
Magazine MN: Tell us more about your initiative “Can-Do productions”.
Nick: I started Can-Do productions as a new beginning in my life. From introvert to extrovert. This was a big step, because of my expertise with human interaction that I barely used outside my work in the restaurants and hotels I have worked for. Can-Do productions was in some way the start in getting expertise in the worlds of cutting-edge technology and trends. But I didn't want to share it with myself only, since I was intended to empower and inspire entrepreneurial minded people to start businesses in the field that involved the upcoming trends, technology and brilliant campaigns that focus on (future) market needs.
So Can-Do was divided into two things: trendwatching (informing & inspiring) and a community group to share talents/rare hobbies that could lead to going viral and creating businesses that did not exist yet. My goal with it was to help people hone their skills and utilize them in the process of creating successful businesses. So far, I have seen over 15 members who were able to put their unique talents to use and started successful businesses (from dancing to YouTube video making, to becoming a DJ & freelance photographers).
It is really an empowering activity to show individuals that opportunities emerge as soon as people start believing that opportunities actually exist. My job is to connect the right trends with the right people and guide them in the journey towards success. I would call it a “Trendlinking”. (My jobtitle in that case: Trendlinker)
Magazine MN: As a blogger and editor at Articulum, how do you come up with great content ideas?
Nick: When I received some feedback about Can-Do I found out that the information that I shared wasn’t deep enough. An unknown Young Creator of barely 14 asked for help in their new initiative to inspire young entrepreneurs and I took the chance. My blogging is always about new startups, new ways of thinking, school projects and trendwatching very awesome young startups worldwide (business model, product or service innovators). Now I am an admin of a crowdfunding community which gives me content from an extra channel: new startup funders. This way I can help youngsters achieve their dreams by offering guest blogging opportunities.
Magazine MN: From your experience, what is the foundation of successful teamwork?
Nick: Successful teamwork starts with empathy, positive mindset, social skills & trust. A deep understanding of your partner’s situation is more valuable than ever. Although I always worked online due the lack of like-minded friends nearby, I was lucky to discover that I haven’t had big problems with teamwork (which might be the result of the MMORPG that I was addicted to). I would suggest for a new team to, first of all, discover each other’s talents and brainstorm with each other about the job. This way you will get a good perspective on what that person can deliver in terms of work.
Magazine MN: Currently you are doing an internship for IDEAS(R)EVOLUTION & INNOKINETICS. Tell us more about INNOKINETICS. What does it feel like to be intern at INNOKINETICS?
Nick: INNOKINETICS is exactly what I needed. A social enterprise focusing on the core: the team and its capabilities to stay in constant motion. I have to craft a customer intimacy mindset and online strategy in this Belgium/Portuguese Spin-off. We aim to create innovation teams out of SME's that lost their flow to innovate.
Magazine MN: In your opinion, what should companies do to create the culture of innovation?
Nick: A culture of innovation is not something that happens one way or another. First of all, companies should find out what are the competences of people that don’t want to change. And one of the ways to make them change is by offering them the right-fit position. Once they start working on the tasks they enjoy the most and can give lots of value in the changing environment, they start changing themselves too. Although it can hold back the full organization and it can take years to turn them into lifelong learners, if their competences are still relevant in the 21st century ways of running an organization, you should give them a chance to change. If it doesn’t work out, then you know what you got to do (fast), otherwise they can negatively impact the rest of the team. Innovation should be in the center of the organization and both internal and external people should be part of the innovation process. This can only be done through heterarchy co-creation (everyone wearing the suit or no-one wearing the suit).
Magazine MN: You were nominated to present your research paper “The future of co-creation and crowdsourcing” in Lisbon on the early Edcom Conference on the 17th May 2013. What is the difference between co-creation and crowdsourcing?
Nick: Crowdsourcing is, for example, asking a random group of people to answer your question. This is usually done online with the purpose of generating ideas. Co-creation is a collaboration with a selected person or small group of people with the aim to come up with something both sides have advantages from. When there is no direct advantage, this can be achieved through prices, like Eyeka does it and bigger companies like Proctor & Gamble have been using it successfully so far. Because I have made a video about all aspects of crowdsourcing (here), written about the future of Co-creation (here) and given a presentation about it (here), I can suggest you to take a look at these sources for a broader understanding.
Magazine MN: Is co-creation a new era for innovation?
Nick: Yes, due to co-creation in organizations, people can work with much more disciplines than ever before. This gives new perspectives and extra feedback on goals you want to reach or on strategies you want to follow. When every organization goes digital, the power of the crowd will be used in solving every problem the world faces today and in the future - from global warming to giving the best and reliable advise to a startup (what is the next right step to follow), or offering the right treatment when you are ill. Today’s (and tomorrow's) most exponential successful organizations are driving growth on the essence of co-creation, open innovation and crowdsourcing (10x higher valued, 10x less risk, 10x a better learning environment and 10x more profitable - like Google with Android, Li & Fung with retail, Uber with transport, Airbnb with travelling, Github with coding, Quirky with consumer products and even our Dutch “Buurtzorg” with self-organizing teams in district nursing).
Magazine MN: What is your best advice for the young aspiring entrepreneurs ?
Nick: Never stop believing, put all your passion in the job and surround yourself with like-minded people. Today, it is easier than ever to work from wherever you want. And particularly in online communities you can get business inspiration and guidance, both formal and informal, through, for example, Facebook groups like Under30Changemakers and Young Creators that I am part of.
If you are in one of the organizations that have found themselves stuck in the process of creating a “Do-it-yourself” innovation culture, my partners at INNOKINETICS can help your organization to become the culture you need, to grow again.
Get in touch with Nick van Breda on:
Nick van Breda was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska