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Meet the Man with a Passion for Tech Startups

After working for multinational corporations for several years, Matthijs Draijer left it all behind to startup his own company. Then he did it again. Now, he is the country manager for Taxify, a startup company established just one and a half years ago, operating in ten countries across Europe and still expanding. We talk to creative Spaces member Matthijs about the ideal workspace and the importance of letting go.

Spaces: Hi Matthijs, what is Taxify about?

Matthijs Draijer: Taxify is a new app that enables you to order taxis as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our aim is to provide you with a hassle-free, reliable service that connects taxis around the city to the customer, offering them the power to book a taxi in their area, collecting them as quickly as possible. We’re currently operating in nine other countries, the Netherlands being the tenth. Amsterdam is our primary city here and we have also recently expanded to Rotterdam.

How was the idea for Taxify created?

Taxify was created as a solution to a problem. That problem was the poor state of the messy and unregulated taxi world in Tallinn, Estonia. It was soon obvious that it wasn’t a problem unique to this city, and Taxify began to rapidly expand across Europe. The software for the app was developed in-house in Tallinn from Android and iOS, the founder and co-founder of the company both have a technical background, so that was extremely helpful in the creation of the product from its concept stages.

We work with taxi operations companies in a dialogic way; it’s more of a collaborative relationship. We provide the sales and marketing and they provide the service. The great thing about Taxify is that if a taxi driver wishes to join us, they must first be licensed, certified and insured, lowering risk and protecting the safety of our customers as well as maintaining a consistent, quality service.

You mention that you’re passionate about startups, what is it about them that excites you? 

I like companies who solve problems; companies that think in a modern, creative way, who approach things from alternative perspectives that go against the conventional. My background is in multinational and mostly US based firms that lead me down the path to founding three different companies. Being in the startup world is like existing within a micro-ecosystem, which is incredibly exciting to be a part of. I really like Taxify’s approach to things and this is what initially attracted me to them.

What kinds of things inspire you both in your professional and personal life?

For me, the most inspirational thing is that the biggest ideas lead to the most simple things. When founding a company or running a business you’re always looking for rocket science, but the best ideas are always the simplest and often in plain sight. It’s important to take a step back and ground yourself in the fundamentals of your initial idea. Over-thinking things can lead to over-complication.

Photograph of Taxify App, Taxify

The nature of your work means you must have a very busy schedule, when you find the time to unwind, what kind of things do you enjoy doing?

I love to free up some time to go running. Running really helps me to clear my mind. It gives me a new form of energy and an outlet to release the stresses of the working day. I’m currently training for a half triathlon which will take place in the summer. I find endurance really helps me to focus my energies whilst providing me with an antidote to daily tensions. I also have two kids, so of course I spend a lot of time running around with them! It’s important to schedule and be flexible with time, to keep close the things that are important to you: I always try to be home for dinner.

How important is the environment in which you work, to you?

Working environment is so important because it has such a significant impact on your productivity and creativity. Whether it’s seeing other people, grabbing a cup of coffee, taking in the artwork, it’s all an important part of the working process; it helps your thought processes and brings you back to what you’re working on. That’s why I love the atmosphere of Spaces, it’s a brilliant environment to be in. The energy here is infectious. You’re working with lots of people with great ideas and great minds.

Photograph of Spaces Vijzelstraat
Photograph of Spaces Vijzelstraat

What advice would you give to people thinking of starting their own business?

Be prepared to see your brilliant, bright ideas diminish and whither. Go back to the really straight forward things, because that tends to work out better than the over-complexities of rocket science. Another important thing to note; don’t treat your start-up like your baby. Lots of people I meet treat it like its their own offspring and hang around too long. You need to develop a product, launch it, and move on. This might mean giving the baby up for adoption. One of the main points of failure is that people take too long on their original idea. A quote I really like from a famous, successful entrepreneur says it all for me; “It took me nine years to become an overnight success”. So, realise that it takes a lot of hard work, but recognise your failures and move on. That’s when all your energy can be invested in other projects.

Great, thanks Matthijs.

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