In this week’s blog post, we catch up with Joppe, Yop and Tom co-founder, for a quick chat. Yop & Tom was founded in 2019 in London by two friends with the aim to help people fulfil their hidden potential through thoughtful and intentionally designed stationery. They design products specifically to help people disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with what is important to them. Find out more here: https://www.yopandtom.com
How did you begin your entrepreneur journey?
Originally from Holland, I moved to London in 2008 to work for a global Fintech firm. I worked there for almost 9 years in a variety of roles selling software and data tools to large financial institutions. But I have always had an entrepreneurial streak and felt a strong desire to be my own boss. So in 2016, I did a 3-month startup course with an organisation called Escape The City and soon after started making plans to quit my job and change my life.
What has been your journey so far? How did you get your business off the ground and where you are now?
My eCommerce journey started in August 2017, when I started a company with my current business partner Tom. We were both quite data driven and were interested in targeting certain under-served niches on Amazon in particular. So we studied the data, researched marketing strategies, picked a product, found a supplier and we launched our first product. That product actually became a best-selling product on Amazon within 6 months or so. It was not so much focused on a company mission, just on the volume of orders. We actually got so experienced ranking products on Amazon that we started a small consultancy also, called Generation AMZ which advises some larger eCommerce firms on their Amazon strategy
However, after a while, we realised we didn’t want to just sell products because the data looked right. We wanted to start selling products that we are more passionate about. We wanted to build a proper brand and really put something awesome in the market. Something that we could be really proud of. And for us, being an entrepreneur is all about unleashing our hidden potential. Doing things that you didn’t think were possible or have any prior knowledge of. And you just go figure it out. You create something from scratch. It’s very satisfying. We wanted to help other people achieve their goals too.
So in July 2020, we launched our new stationery brand called Yop & Tom. Yop & Tom is founded upon the slogan “Unleash Your Potential”. We both love high quality stationery, and we both feel that writing something down with pen and paper is a lot more meaningful than playing with a mobile phone. It’s old-fashioned, but it works. No distraction. Getting sh*t done.
Our first product was a dotted grid journal, which is a product very popular amongst people who do bullet journaling. Bullet journaling is a technique used by people to order the past, present and future in short bullet format. But it is also used for creative expression and for example, better mental health. We will have 6 different styles of our journals very soon. And before the end of this calendar year we will also release an undated goal planner in 3 different colours, which uses a unique concept to help people achieve their goals. We’re very excited about it.
What has been the highest and lowest point in your journey?
Being an entrepreneur, I think you go through a lot of highs and lows. We ended up in a patent infringement case once, which was really stressful. I don’t think there is necessarily one moment that is the highest point in the journey, but I think over time, realising how much knowledge and experience I have gained is very satisfying. You develop a can-do attitude and push through challenges one by one.
How do you cope with setbacks?
I cope with setbacks all the time, and you just have to push through them. Having your own business can be incredibly tiring and stressful. There is no safety blanket. But being part of a team helps. Having someone to share the bad news with and work through it to come out at the other end is really great. Also, when there is a problem, there are some great Facebook groups that have been really helpful in sourcing the right answers to problems.
What inspires you?
When something works, and you can see customers love the product that you created, it’s really quite rewarding.
What would be a dream collaboration for your business?
I really admire people that have achieved things beyond their wildest dreams, but remain down to earth. People like Barack Obama, Bill Gates or Marcia Kilgore. I also listen to a lot of Podcasts and love people like Guy Raz from How I Built This and Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. So if any of those people are available, hook me up please.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
It’s hard to say exactly, but I want Yop & Tom to be a global brand. I want to help millions of people to achieve their goals in life.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
This chart explaining the relationship between ideas and execution:
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting out their journey, especially in the current climate?
Two things: Spread the risk. Don’t put all your money in one idea. Things go wrong all the time. Keep your day job if you can, until you can afford your own salary. 2. Start doing something. Even if it is small. Unexpected things will happen when you start. I hear this from every entrepreneur I speak with. Doing is better than thinking.