An Entrepreneur Tale – an interview with Peter-Paul
Jo Xie, 08 November 2018
Jo Xie, 08 November 2018
When Peter-Paul said yes to this interview I was really excited, as it’s very hard to catch him in his busy schedule. Yes, this is the life of an entrepreneur of a young startup.
A quick mention of what AmberScript does – it provides solutions to automatically convert audio to text, backed up by AI technology. It was founded at the end of 2017, and is already serving over 12,000 users. Up to date, close to 500.000 minutes of audio has been converted to text.
Jo: Flashback to when you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
PP: I wanted to be an inventor, who invents new technologies or introduces new products to the world, like Thomas Edison. Inventing is something very cool to me. As a child, I didn’t really rationalize why it’s cool. I just found it cool.
Jo: Please name 3 words that best describe you.
PP: I would say:-
progressive: I’m always running around, making changes. I’m also very open to changes – when I see a problem I want to solve it
curious: I like to read about everything
competitive: if I do something, I want to be the top one (Jo: OK boss, we got the hint.)
Jo: When did you discover your interest to be an entrepreneur? What has inspired you?
PP: When I was 13, it became a trend for people to buy ringtones from mobile service providers, like Jamba (which doesn’t exist anymore). People needed to pay a substantial amount of money for only 1 or 2 ringtones.
I realized that a data cable, which wasn’t included as part of the packaging of a mobile phone at that time, could connect the phone to a computer. And you can easily download ringtones to the phone that way. So I created a pack, including a data cable and a disc burnt with various ringtones. I then sold close to a hundred of those packs on eBay. It was quite some money for a kid.
That was my first experience as an entrepreneur, and I loved it.
Jo: As you grew up, did you have an influential figure, or a role model?
PP: My dad, who is an entrepreneur himself. He was the first one to introduce South African wine to the Netherlands after apartheid was abolished and the boycott ended, distributing it through supermarkets such as renowned Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn.
Jo: Do you have a skill or talents that most people don’t know?
PP: I played waterpolo in the highest Dutch league (eredivisie) when I was a boy. I seemed to have endless energy back then, and used to have 8 practice sessions a week (laugh out loud). I made it all the way to the team which was training for the Olympics. But I stopped when I went to college, because I knew I couldn’t spend enough time to practice anymore, to stay at the top (and got kicked out of the team that was going to the Olympic Games).
Jo: What have been the major milestones in your life so far?
PP: Of course, to become the founder / CEO of AmberScript, but our biggest milestones are still ahead of us
Jo: Finish this sentence – “On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…”
PP: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me playing football. This is my routine nowadays.
Jo: As a prior management consultant, what are the necessary skill sets it has equipped you with? Are there any constraints in your thinking pattern because of this profession?
PP: Thanks to that job, I’m able to work hard, and see working hard as standard. But to me, working hard doesn’t necessarily mean spending long hours. It means being efficient at work.
Also, it has trained me to have structured thinking, and to keep a bigger picture in mind.
On the other hand, because I’m very used to multi-tasking, I can easily get bored working on just one subject/activity. And as a strategy consultant, I had to know a little bit of everything, rather than gaining a more specialized skill set.
Jo: Career-wise, do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
PP: I have worked on many side projects before working full-time for AmberScript, but they didn’t work out. If you want to do something properly, you have to give it your best shot, and put your heart and soul into it.
Jo: What culture do you want to build at AmberScript?
PP: That’s a big question. We want to be “undercover superheroes”, who are missioned to save people’s time for something better in life, rather than spending it on typing out the interviews, adding video subtitles, etc. Spending time on these things can be punishing you know. To achieve this, we need to put our customers first, be inventive, and be patient.
We’re still a very young company, so people get larger responsibilities here than in bigger companies. With that comes with the responsibility of owning your work, because nobody else could claim that ownership.
We value honesty and transparency, even though they can make you vulnerable. But be honest and transparent nevertheless. We clearly believe in the Dutch values (smile)!
We also believe in” work hard, play hard”. Long hours are not encouraged, but we do encourage high efficiency. And regular cool events with the team!
For any company, I believe you should never settle and stop moving. You always need to keep looking to the future with a vision to become 10x of what we are now. Every day is another opportunity to grow more.
Jo: In the year 2300 (should our planet still exist then), how would you want to be remembered?
PP: As someone who has made something happen, which otherwise wouldn’t have been there if it were not for me, even if it’s just a small dent in the universe (laugh out loud).
Jo: Any words for the people out there who want to try out entrepreneurship but haven’t done so yet?
PP: Always keep your eyes open and chase every lead that could possibly guide you to this path. Shoot me an email; I would happily help you along the way.
As promised, this is the email: [email protected]