Some background about our founders. Both Maarten and Adriaan have an ‘open Zoom’ policy. If you have any questions, comments or just want to get to know them a little bit better just plan a catch up call with them. Don’t be shy :).
Adriaan Kolff, Co-Founder and CEO of MatcHR
I met Maarten during his studies in Groningen. We tell our clients we met during our studies but in reality we met at our fraternity, drinking beer till early morning 🍻. Little did we know that we would end up starting a company in Ukraine many years later.
After I graduated in finance I started my career as a ‘finance trainee’ at Unilever. It was a great start to my career and I truly learned how to work in a very professional organization. After 2,5 years in finance I moved to marketing and was responsible for multiple brands in the Netherlands. I quickly realized that the move to marketing didn’t solve my ‘restlessness’ and that I was looking for an opportunity that was more action focused. This opportunity came when I was asked to join Business Talent Network (now Moongro) as one of the partners. BTN was a small digital recruitment agency where we helped graduates find their first job at Fortune 100 companies in the Netherlands.
Over the course of three years I learned many things.
I love the recruitment industry and helping people find their (next) dream job and helping companies find the right talent is very rewarding. I finally felt in the right environment as an entrepreneur. I learned that growing too rapidly without a clear plan can kill your company (we almost went bankrupt) I learned that you have to be transparent about the good and the bad times (we always pretended that everything was great until we had to fire people and lost all trust...) I learned that investing and raising money without product market fit is basically throwing spaghetti against a wall hoping that something will stick and is not a good idea.
At the same time I started to invest in small tech start ups and some of them started to grow rapidly. As an investor I was frustrated that these companies had to work with expensive agencies because they were unable to grow their internal (tech) recruitment team with the pace they needed. As an agency owner I was frustrated how transactional your relationship is with your clients and that you only get called when there is no other solution, and that you really work as a vendor instead of working as a partner.
This is where the idea for MatcHR came from. I wanted to provide dedicated sourcing and recruitment support on a subscription based model. This had to be done remotely to give companies an alternative for expensive agencies and contract recruiters.
Every quarter I met Maarten for a burger to discuss the recruitment business and in general to catch up. When I knew that I was going to leave Moongro I pitched the idea of MatcHR to Maarten to hear his thoughts on it. To my surprise, Maarten was looking for exactly this kind of a solution for his company Apollo Executive search but hadn’t been able to find one. He either found low prices but low quality sourcing agencies or just cheaper agencies that wanted to have a percentage of Maarten’s final hiring fee.
So not only did Maarten find this a great idea, he immediately said that if I was serious about this opportunity that he wanted to be in :).
We both realized that we were very complementary to each other and over one more coffee we basically agreed to start the adventure of MatcHR. Maarten had already coined the name “MatcHR” for a different idea and it immediately stuck.
After having reviewed several countries to potentially set up our company I emigrated to Kyiv, Ukraine in October 2018 to set up the company, hire the first people and grow the business. I have written a detailed blog about this journey.
Our first time in Kyiv. August 2018
About my personal life
I recently got married to my wife Olya. Olya, her daughter Serafima, and I live in New York. People call me ‘very energetic’ and when I have something on my mind I go 100% for it.
My parents live together in the Netherlands and my sister, brother in law and their newborn baby live in London. Below four pictures that will give you a bit of an idea of my life :).
Completed a full Ironman in 2018
I go to Burning Man every year and met Olya there in 2017.
Together with my family I go skiing each year in Switzerland
Maarten visiting in New York in February 2019 (right before the lockdown)
Maarten van der Kwaak
Maarten is a serial entrepreneur, co-founder at MatcHR, Apollo Executive Search, ConsulantcyExit, Legal Top Talent, and The Legal Bench.
Surprisingly, Maarten started his first recruitment business while still in university studying law, recruiting his fellow students and placing them with law firms. On occasion, he would find himself recruiting people while chatting with them in bars! Later, he kept his recruiting firm going as a side-hustle while working full-time as a management consultant for an international strategy consulting firm. Since then he’s founded or invested in multiple start-up businesses in both recruitment and technology.
Listen to this podcast with Maarten: