Apr 2016 | Sofia Simeonidou
AppAgents is just one of the companies that Jona is involved with. Jona’s main goal is to expand his knowledge and skills on a variety of things and prepare himself for anything that comes his way. It's not coincidental that he is involved in interesting projects from a young age.
Tell me about AppAgents?
I founded AppAgents while participating in the incubator program of Innovation Industries in Almere in 2011. The initial idea was to take existing mobile apps and reuse their parts for other apps to save time on programming.
As with many things in life, my company ended up doing something different. While pitching to companies to use existing app concepts for their brands, the companies came up with many additional change requests, which made it clear that I had to build apps from scratch. Within half a year I was using a network of freelancers and partner companies to bring these apps to life. Instead of becoming an app concept broker, I turned into more of an app consultant taking care of development and implementation as well.
Why your own company?
I never intended to become an entrepreneur. In fact, I never intended to become anything. I always go where I think I am needed and where I can contribute the most. At the time, and after finishing my studies (2010), in most fields competition was fierce and it was hard to get a chance into something new. I had to create my own job. The stuff about freedom and being your own boss was never really the reason for me. Clients are harder to manage anyway and way more critical than regular employers.
Do you know what would you be if you weren’t a business developer?
I have no clue. Business developer is a label I put on what I do now. I’m involved in a lot of small ventures, where I try to help out wherever I can. This is usually on both an analytical strategic level and on a pragmatic operational level. To put it simply, I think of something and I also make sure it happens. I don’t think I would be working somewhere 40 hours a week though. I would probably still keep trying to continue doing what I want and maybe have a low-paying job next to it that doesn’t require much mental effort.
Ever think about quitting and do something else instead?
Not really. Although I have many friends with successful careers and once in a while I do wonder if I made the right choice: working so many hours without receiving immediate remuneration. On the other hand, I’m better able to motivate myself to the fullest towards certain goals. Whenever I have to work on goals I didn’t set myself or goals I don’t fully understand, my creativity and ambition go out the window.
Any mistakes along the way?
Too many to count. One of the most embarrassing experiences was my first sales meeting. I was unprepared and 10 minutes into the meeting, it became clear to the people on the other side of the table that I didn’t know the product that well. They were quite direct about me making a fool out of myself, so yes it was not my best moment. Experiences like this are not good for your confidence in the short term but they prepare you for the next sales pitch better than any course could ever do.
Whenever I have to work on goals I didn’t set myself, or goals I don’t fully understand, my creativity and ambition go out the window.
What prepared you best to become an entrepreneur?
I’m the 4th eldest of 6 children. I learned from a young age that if I wanted something done, I was the one to make it happen.
One time when I was 7 I went to a Korfball introduction day where I got persuaded to become a member. When I got home I told my mom I didn’t want to do it and if she would call them on my behalf to cancel. She wouldn’t. So I had to do it myself. It’s taking care of your own business, isn’t it?
Where did you grow-up?
I grew up in a village next to Utrecht called Bunnik. It’s sort of a suburb near a nice river and the forest. I had a great childhood there.
Are you an extrovert?
This depends on who you ask. I think I can handle myself well in groups and even thrive sometimes. On the other hand, I also like to spend time being on my own. I might be a mix between an introvert and an extrovert.
Do you get upset with anything?
Ironically, with electronic devices. I don’t get angry or frustrated easily with people but a slow computer can make me angry.
When did you get involved with FoldingCoin?
I’ve been following the developments around blockchain projects like Bitcoin for a couple of years now. It is incredible to see how many smart and talented people are involved in the projects and the advancements that are made. FoldingCoin is a non-profit organization that distributes a bitcoin-like currency to people who send their computing power to Stanford University’s project Folding@home. Stanford uses this computing power to simulate the folding of proteins with the aim of finding cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. As FoldingCoin we reward people that send bitcoin power of redundant bitcoin computers to Stanford. In the early times only a couple of people joined in, but we managed to contribute about 10% to the total Folding@home computing power.
To me, this shows you can use crypto currencies also as a vehicle for relevant change.
I’m not afraid to waste time on things.
Is there a future for alternative currencies?
I think the currencies are just an aspect of blockchain technologies. They are created to reward people to provide computing power. The decentralized network of computers that contributes to these blockchain networks is the interesting part. Instead of having to create expensive centralized databases to share information with a network, you can now spread out the work and security of a vast group of computers, making it almost impossible to take the network down. Bitcoin can be seen as a proof of concept on the willingness of people to work together to create a bank-like transaction system. This same system can also be used to create binding contracts, store information in the cloud or send messages. Blockchain technology is far more than just the currencies that power them.
How do you know when an idea is worth exploring further?
I don’t. I waste a lot of time on things that never amount to anything. As it is hard to predict the success of something, I just try to be involved with a lot of things and be in many places to not miss out on ideas and projects that can be very successful. I’m not afraid to waste time on things. It offers me the opportunity to become involved with subjects and projects from the ground up, which might change the world one day.