Posts Categorized: 1. Joop.in:

Mont Ventoux, je ne suis pas fou

mont_ventoux_johan_joop

If you wanted to watch the Tour de France in the 70s, you had it rough, it was a daily 20 min B&W summary filmed from a single angle. However, my dad did become an avid fan and took up cycling himself. Together with his friends they climbed the famous mountains like Alpe d’Huez, Col de la Madeleine and the steep Mont Ventoux themselves. Their sport bonded the group and they are cycling together to this day.

Moving on to may 2015, my dad was picking a cottage for our yearly family get-together, unsurprisingly he picked one at the foot of that very Mont Ventoux. Our whole family took the opportunity and enjoyed surprisingly good weather, French baguettes and French wine. Then my dad asked me if I wanted to join him up the mountain; I had to consider, I cycled up Col de Madelaine in 2004 but I am totally untrained at the moment. I agreed to a small ascend to halfway point as a first training.

We started off and I felt pretty great, the mood was good, lot’s of “bonjours”, waves and there was an American girl cheering us on and offering cold beverages, that was fantastic! With the 7~10% climb I was cranking energy fast but all was good… until a man dressed like Lance Armstrong rode by and called me to my place “hey, c’est la folie, you are crazy” and carried on*.  I yelled something back – too little too late – but actually found a renewed strength; “I’ll show him!” After a good hour we left the forest and we could see the moon-like summit. Breathtaking.

At halfway point I told my dad I wanted to keep on going, as the weather was exceptionally cold that day. But actually, being there with my dad really kept my nose to the grindstone and I didn’t want to let him down. Then I hit my limit. Closer to the top, I got into trouble but I made it! Thanks to my dad staying by my side and motivating me. A lovely Dutch woman with a SLR camera snapped my last meters, seen in the shot above.

At the top, we cheered, took some photos and had a cold drink. Then we turned around and breezing off the mountain, I was carrying such a big smile that I felt embarrassed for the people still climbing but I couldn’t stop. It was an absolutely perfect day.

*note: I did carry a helmet but only wore it during the descent; it was a remark regarding my endurance or my bike. Also; Generally French people are nice!

Hello world: Mia

mia_HDR

I’m a father now! Suna gave birth to a healthy daughter. Her  name is Mia Dorresteijn, both mother and baby are doing great!

oneyear

Ran from Amsterdam tot Zaandam with Startpagina.nl

runningI’ve been avoiding large (marathon) events; why disturb the peace of running by yourself on a random dike in the Netherlands? However, I got invited for a run with the team of startpagina.nl and I couldn’t resist. It was also a great motivation for me to run throughout the summer. This run from Amsterdam until Zaandam is one of the largest in the Netherlands with almost 90.000 participants. zaandamI used to be very serious about my time; No talking, no sightseeing and straight to the finish. This day I decided to enjoy the experience. High fiving the little kids beside the road. Due to the warm weather, I drank some water at every stop (not something I usually do) and finished within my goal of 1h 30m. at the startThis was my third event I ran on my five fingers and I realize it’s not so popular in the Netherlands. (people keep asking about them). Arriving in Zaandam, I took the train back home. Leaving the town, I was pleasantly surprised with it’s center architecture. It looked typical Dutch but with a modern twist.

Travelling Korea; The food, the people and the nature

Arrived at the beach (Boryeong).

Arrived at the beach (Boryeong).

I was delighted to visit the sea in Korea! Since the end of the summer season was also approaching here, family was worried that I wanted to swim, but to my surprise the sea was warmer then I’m used to. This Boryeong beach is famous for an annual mud festival. The place is buzzling with small dining ventures and mud therapy centers. And actually, I wasn’t the only one in the water; The people in the water came to swim or hang out on their inflatable boats.

Hwe (회) with fresh sidedishes

Hwe (회) with fresh sidedishes

After swimming we ate ‘Whe”, thinly sliced raw fish and other raw seafood (similar to Japanese sashimi); This restaurant was based right outside the port, full with small fisher vessels. Based on the first floor of the building, we had a great view over the harbor. Whilst getting used to eating while sitting on the floor, the Soju was welcomed with these raw foods. (Korean rice liquor) The food wasn’t cheap but it was quite an experience.

Having a Chuseok dinner with the family. Felt part the group regardless of limited Korean.

Having a Chuseok dinner with the family. Felt part the group regardless of limited Korean.

Another marker of the end of the summer were the Chuseok preparations, which is a celebration of the good harvest, Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and share a feast of Korean traditional food such as songpyeon and rice wines such as sindoju and dongdongju. It’s a typical time to meetup with the family. Unfortunately I had to travel back to the Netherlands for the real ceremony but I was happy to join the mother’s side of the family for a great dinner.

Ran 11km until the 대전천. (new Daejeon bridge)

Ran 11km until the 대전천. (new Daejeon bridge)

To keep in shape and defeat jet-lag, I ran an 11km run upon arrival. I really wanted to run but Korean traffic seems really dangerous and I don’t like waiting for traffic lights while working out. An alternative plan was to do 40 rounds on the university’s running track. Fortunately, I found a river running all the way from our appartment to the city center. This was a great to run, as you can see in the photo there was a dedicated cycle track with soft asphalt. Mountains in the distance and a river. I saw crane birds, storks wonderful. Closer to the city, Koreans were sitting beside the water, I found that a friendly nod leads to smiles like 99% of the time :-)


In Korea, if you ask a barista for a ‘Dutch Coffee’ you get cold coffee with ice cubes.

The chemical lab looking device (photo) works like this: You add a liter of ice water in the top level water container, followed by about 100 grams of grounded coffee in the compartment below, then simply let’s it run and wait for about 6 hours. The ceramic or paper filter starts dripping and you store the dutch coffee in the fridge. Really refreshing! Whilst I saw this device for the first time in 2012, I was able to order Dutch coffee in most Korean coffee places, and even in Shanghai. Read more in my blogpost from 2012 regarding this coffee.

At Kakao office and meeting with Sun Hyun-woo of talktomeinkorean.com

At Kakao office and meeting with Sun Hyun-woo of talktomeinkorean.com

Korea is such a dynamic place which gives me a lot of energy. Yesterday I meetup with Kakao. Their Kakaotalk messenger is the ‘Whatsapp/wechat’ of Korea, and outside. They have 140 million visitors, it’s great technology of which a lot can be learned. Very exciting to see their office from the inside and have a peek into this technology company; It shows that Korea harbors modern and cutting edge technology companies these days. See more pictures from their office here. Besides Kakao, I also had the pleasure to meet Sun Hyun Woo. Hyunwoo Sun is a YouTube star and one of the best Korean language teacher in the world. Together with the team he built he has a community of over 110.000 Korean learners (200k facebook likes) around the world. If you are interested in Korea and the Korean language there is no way not to find Hyunwoo Sun’s free lessons on http://talktomeinkorean.com. Since they started a cafe (named you are here cafe) in Hongdae, we couldn’t resist to have a look and meet the people behind this concepts.

Compulsary Korean barbeque on the last night

It was a short trip. Almost forgot to eat some Korean barbecue. Actually, Korean food is about way much more then barbecue. But who can say no to such a dinner before leaving back home?

Long weekend in Shanghai

20140826-180812.jpg20140826-174313.jpgIt seems to be a good tradition to visit Shanghai now and then. We met up with friends and ate the fruits and dishes that we craved. Arriving during Friday’s traffic rush, we had some trouble hailing a taxi from the metro station.20140826-172738.jpg A friendly passerby explained that you can bid for taxi’s with an app these days, but instead I called a friend to pick us up. On Saturday we enjoyed a south Chinese lunch (小南国), haggled for presents at pearl city, and ate a modern 20140826-172938.jpgShanghainese meal with friends. However good and rich the Chinese kitchen is, the next day we enjoyed Japanese foods like 20140826-173120.jpgokonomiyaki, shabu shabu, and soba; as those are all also hard to get in my home country. Afterwards we left for a stay at the sofitel Sheshan, a bit outside the city; again amazed by the size of 20140826-174420.jpgShanghai, and the ghostly quiet rows of skyscrapers. Shanghai is such an energetic city and there is so much to do; we both think it was worth coming here, if even for a short time! Leaving at 5 am to the airport, the G20 was already busy with cars (day and night) and we realized the smog also continues day and night. It has been getting worse and breathing it is the price to pay to live here, I guess one can’t have it all.

A long weekend in Limburg

My father in law came over from Korea. A rare occasion so Suna and me wanted to do something special. Whilst planning his trip, we realized that during his last visit, we had already shown him most of the popular spots we knew. But not the southern provence of Limburg! After booking a holiday house, we decided to give him a full tour in that area, we visited Maastricht, Aachten (DE), Monschou (DE) and Spa Francorchamps. It was a nice week. Had a chance to run in the area, made barbeque in the yard, played games (go-stop is a Korean card game) and I got some reading done there. Since we were planning to visit Andre Rieu (small video here) we booked tickets on our last night there. People around me think Andre Rieu is a bit corny with his popular waltz music. Actually, I haven’t seen Andre play his instrument that much, but he is such an outstanding character, it really makes the show!
At andre rieu

Sailing in Holland

Joop sailingI was looking forward to this day. It would be all about summer. But instead, I got up in the morning and it was grey outside, and the rain was falling. I told myself it wouldn’t be bad and drove the 1,5 hr all the way up north to Enkhuizen. By the time I got there, the sun came through and I met the crew of this epic sailing event specialisterren.nl, Steady as she goesour destination: Stavoren (on the opposite of the lake) and I quickly realized sailing isn’t about relaxing and sitting back. It’s hard work to halyard, make hitches and be cautious about what’s happening around you, all this with a lot of wind and rain in your face. As the only first timer, I thought we were don’t well and enjoyed our time out there. Until… we hit the seabed with our keel. Yes. We were going a good 7 knots, and suddenly we all felt a small tremble and a flinch in our velocity and looked at each-other, grabbed what we could and a few seconds later, the boat hit the seabed and with a huge slam, and with a bouncing motion, we almost came to a full stop. Turns out we steered right into undeep waters (< 3 meters). We began raising the keel immediately and calmly waited the shallow waters out. In the end the crew inspected the ship, laughed that everything was ok, and we all continued our journey. Turns out the map did warn us of this, we just came in to quickly. An potentially dangerous mistake. Soon after this, we arrived at the Stavoren harbour and enjoyed a nice meal and shared the story with the second specialisterren boat, who managed to get there quicker than us. Suddenly I realized I was worried about the weather for nothing. The typical Dutch skies with a few raindrops here and there actually contributed to the experience. I got to appreciate the landscape and the country a little bit more. Back in the harbor, we reviewed the day and the team was planning to stay the night and head out the next day again. For me it was enough, happy to be back on land I drove back to our home.

Calligraphy Workshop

caligraphy
These weekly Korean lessons in Amsterdam are taking a large part of my weekends, so when non curriculum events occur I usually get on my way. However, last week, they organised a calligraphy workshop.

Since my father-in-law considers calligraphy more then a hobby, I felt obliged to partake. Whilst I didn’t expect it, calligraphy is quite fun. There is also something tranquil about putting hangeul or a hanja character on paper. Together with an official stamp, our first attempts looked like the real deal.

Finland, Belgium and Maastricht

Sanoma headquarters in Helsinki

Sanoma headquarters in Helsinki

Started the month with a business trip to Helsinki at the Sanoma headquarters. Even though I met a lot of colleagues that are working there, it’s was great to see the office for myself and see a bit more of company I work for. Sanoma became big by the newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’ in Finland.

Train depot in Simpelveld

Train depot in Simpelveld

I’ve also visited Limburg with Suna and her high school friends who were visiting. My personal highlight was a tour at the miljoenenlijn. Actually, just drove the car to an industrial building besides the track. No people around, until we made our way into the depot. Just look at these magnificent locomotives. Still used during the summer on the track for tourists, money is raised to refurbish them further during the winter. We got an improvised and enthusiastic tour by one of the engineers who has been working on one of the trains for over 9 years. He told the stories of taking the train from London to Istanbul in 1924; The girls were surprisingly intrigued, the people dressed nicely, lot’s of leg-space and good food seemed to fill their appetite to get an idea of the romantics of train travel during the time.

Maastricht with Suna

Maastricht with Suna

Besides trains we also explored Maastricht, Brussel and Brugge. Of which Maastricht seemed most interesting to them, didn’t do much more then walking around and visiting monuments; The city has a better appeal to foreigners compared to the touristification of cities like Amsterdam and Brussels.

The end of my Chinese fashion startup.

Our office in Shanghai wasn't in the city center, but it offered lots of space

Our office in Shanghai wasn’t in the city center, but it offered lots of space

It seems like unitedstyles.com is down. Looking at that 404, is this the end of the startup that I cofounded? I never did put my thoughts about those years on this blog. It started with an idea; The webshop was inspired by the look-book generation of online shoppers, who follow bloggers online for their inspiration. Together with three european entrepreneurs, I co-founded UnitedStyles in 2011. Whilst others could focus on the fashion and marketing aspects, I was in charge of building the website from scratch and building the IT team from our office in Shanghai. We started in Shanghai as the city offers both expertise in fashion creation and IT development.

uniteds

We started with a small team, expanded to about 20

We launched in October 2011, at Techcrunch Disrupt Beijing and became finalists, meaning we could present the company to the techcrunch audience (300k people) twice! Still one of my proudest moments to date, here’s the article they wrote about us. It really kicked things off; Shortly after, we were chosen by FastCompany as one of the top 10 most innovative global fashion companies. In the wake of all this attention, we managed to hit the national press several times in all the markets we were operating; The Netherlands (nu.nl, telegraaf a.o.), Japan, Russia, Singapore and China (cbn weekly (first time to see myself in Chinese magazine)). This led to sales directly, and also to return customers.

Joop Presenting at Techcrunch DisruptHere’s a youtube video my wife receiving her first unitedstyles dress. The process of co-creating and delivering fashion at doorsteps worldwide was a thrilling experience. Every dress had it’s own story. At one point we had about twenty people working in our office. From fashion designers to stitchers to software developers. It was really fun seeing the (mostly Chinese) IT people talking about features, and the (mostly western) fashion designers about feelings. In terms of technology, I think the web application was quite revolutionary. In the wake of HTML5 and increasing tablet usage, offered a design engine in SVG, which worked well in all the browsers at the time. Furthermore, designers could upload with Adobe Illustrator and we then allowed customers to generate 3D previews of their dress, skirt or coat on our webshop directly. However, after the impressive launch, the startup company seemed to hit a wall. As we wanted to grow, we needed investment money but it turned out to be hard to find VC’s in China willing to invest in a company run by foreigners. Slowly, the expansion opportunities seemed to dry up and things got rather difficult. The frustrating aspect of this was that sales where still coming in. And besides that, aspiring fashion designers seemed to have found our site interesting to practice designing with, leading to high returning traffic. Well, it seems to be down at the moment.

I want to thank my former team, family and friends for putting up with me while we were working on this company six days a week, deep into the nights! The demise of a startup isn’t fun. But I guess, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and even though nothing tangible remains, I did learn a lot from the experience!

lessons learned

* Don’t focus too much on the technology, get a cashcow

    . I focussed way to much on enabling 3D and the latter. We could have ‘faked’ a few steps and increased turnover with a star product to wow our potential investors in the future.

* Stay small while you can. We dreamed big and put our stakes high from the start. If I would do it again, I would take it slowly

The evolution of the site

unitedstyles evolution history