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The epilogue of a Team Academy alumni

It’s been about one and a half year ago since I graduated from Team Academy with a thesis I wrote for ODAM, which is now my core business. Back then it was still a concept, living only in our minds and Google Drive. We did organize several events before, mostly focused on art and music as well. But this idea was something new, inspired by a concept I encountered during my Learning Journey in South Africa in my third year of Team Academy: A monthly event in galleries of the Jordaan area, Amsterdam.

Our idea: Visitors could walk around the area to explore the art exhibitions at all participating locations, complemented by performances varying from poetry to music. Without any similar projects in the Dutch market to learn from, I decided to focus my thesis on researching our audience and the opportunities in the market here. Eventually I was able to conclude there was a significant market, and I had some substantiated ideas on how to reach this audience. We truly believed that from thereon things would go smoothly. Boy, were we wrong.

We spent months researching the art sector and wrote bookworks worth of applications for investors and grants. After nearly a year of work, we still had not received any financial support and most galleries were sceptical of our idea. They saw us as a couple of young guys who wanted to throw parties at their locations, lacking respect for the valuable art they were showing. We realized we had to change things if we wanted to make this happen.

We had to accept that no one would invest in an unproven concept, and that we needed to start without funding. Also we had to pivot our plan with a clearer vision in order to convince the art galleries to join our cause. With this new mindset and a stronger vision statement, we started running and within months realized the first edition of ODAM. On March 29, 2018, in the Jordaan with five renowned art galleries.

The hard lesson we learned is, that sticking to a specific plan for too long can be a major pitfall. After every event we now reflect, and decide whether we need to adapt before we continue working on the next edition. This has lead to significant changes in the last year: from a monthly event we went to quarterly; we’ve transformed a free event into a paid event; we have added new art forms such as dance and film; we change our locations every edition to stay relevant; and we don’t limit our venues strictly to art galleries. All these changes have brought us to the point we are now, one year after our launch event. On Friday, May 24, our 8th edition is scheduled in Amsterdam Noord at six different locations, combining music, dance, film and visual art in one night. Compared to our first – free – edition where we aimed for 300 visitors, we now intend to attract over 800 paying visitors.

It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and the lessons learned in the safe and supporting environment of Team Academy. It has all lead to this moment, where I am reflecting back on an impactul growth for both my business and myself as an entrepreneur. Our one year anniversary is just around the corner, and I am very curious to see how our plans will turn out. With the wonderful team we have build around us, I can only expect the best. I hope you will join us too, and celebrate our anniversary with us on May 24.

Jesse Nieuwenhuijzen
Team Academy alumni & former Team Blend member

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