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Dream Teams: Why "Perfect Is the Enemy of Good” with Tim and Daan


The co-founders of Build in Amsterdam speak to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about a partnership that shares common ground in morals, upbringing and background

Dream Teams: Why "Perfect Is the Enemy of Good” with Tim and Daan

Build in Amsterdam’s co-founders, managing director Tim Weers and creative director Daan Klaver, met in 2005 while Tim was working at ON – a narrowcasting venture by KPN and Heineken – and Daan was pitching to them. “Back then we were looking to build an alternative version of YouTube, which had only been launched a few months back,” says Tim, “we were looking for someone to create the brand identity for this project and this is how we found Daan, who had his own agency.”

Daan remembers the initial encounter with his now colleague, “I thought it sounded interesting so I did it, but after the pitch, I didn’t hear back from them for a few months. Eventually, they told me I had won the pitch and they wanted me to do more. As I still hadn’t gotten paid for my initial work, we arranged a meeting at my office and one of the two people that showed up was Tim.” ON brought Daan on board to work exclusively with them and as they say, the rest was history. 

In their initial meetings, it seems that the pair seemed to share a certain “yin-yang effect” according to Tim, which was the perfect combination. “We shared a common cultural background and an entrepreneurial, independent mindset, but while Daan approached things from a creative angle, I had a more ‘can-do’ mentality, having worked in production and the business side of things. In the end, it was a very fortunate blend and that keeps going to this day.”

“My first impression of Tim was that he looked very stoned,” Daan says as he laughs. “He had a very laid-back, surfer attitude and initially, I thought we were quite opposite in a lot of ways. I had to get used to him, but I remember thinking he was a very funny guy. And I didn’t immediately see all his skills and strengths, but that part really started to shine through as we started working together.”

As they worked through their YouTube alternative variations, Tim remembers the moment the duo realised they had something in common. “I remember we immediately clicked because we both had a very strong work ethic – always going the extra mile, not afraid to get our hands dirty.” And Daan remembers the way they worked together on a project for the Dutch sportswear brand Protest, which Tim lined up after some time in Indonesia. “[Tim] met their marketing director in Bali while surfing, so he brought that client in. I did the design work for it and we went on to win a lot of awards together. We also worked on a dating app, which was way ahead of its time.”

While their memory presents two different versions of their first projects together, it was after this point that their joint creativity took off. Tim remembers how they embarked on innovative projects going forward: “We even worked on a dating app, way before smartphones were a mainstream thing. It was called Ollo and it harnessed GSM cell tower data to allow people in the same locations to interact with each other. You could say it was a bit like the precursor to modern-day Happn.”

When asked about why they think they work so well together, Tim explains it with Daan’s innate desire for building things. “I really like the spark of that energy and I like making things happen. The fact that I’ve been working with creatives my whole life means I understand their process and have a feel for the outcome of their work. I think that helps.” Whereas Daan says, “Despite being different in many ways, Tim and I are very similar where it really matters: a strong work ethic, similar morals, same upbringing and background. He likes to do the things that I don’t and vice versa, and we really trust each other.” These shared ethics are part of what brings trust into the partnership: “I am confident that every decision Tim makes comes from a good place and that he has our best interest at heart. Even if we disagree on something, we always find common ground. In all these years, we have never been angry at each other. I think that says something.”

“We have very complementary ways of working, it’s easy to find common ground on a lot of things. And that’s maybe why it’s been working well for as long as it has,” says Tim. According to Daan, Tim is what he calls “a fixer, he likes to get things done,” meaning he often “shapes things to his advantage, maybe even bends the truth a tiny bit.” But Daan assures that “it all comes from a good place.” It’s this style that has been coined “a Timmy” in their workplace. 

“Of all the projects we’ve worked on over the years, Build in Amsterdam as a whole is my favourite,” says Tim, “I’m proud of the work we do, the value it brings to our clients, and the fact that we have such a diverse portfolio of international names on our roster.” Discussing their favourite projects is tricky, simply because they put their effort into every venture: “We rarely if ever have to compromise, and I’m glad we’re in a situation that allows us to stay that way.”

Daan decidedly agrees on what he believes has been their biggest success: “Building this company and building the culture together. All of these people around us, from different backgrounds, working together under one roof, making the best work out there.” But most importantly, they haven’t compromised on their personal relationship, which is the icing on the cake. “All of that, while still managing to be friends outside of work and to hang out beyond the office. That’s something to be proud of.”

Part of being in a creative duo means that Tim and Daan benefit from their shared experiences, highs and lows, keeping each other motivated throughout. “For me that’s crucial,” says Tim, “and I don’t think I would have been able to build all of this by myself.” For Daan, the feeling is very much the same, “I’ve had various entrepreneurial ventures before, but having a partner is so much better. Everything feels a little less heavy because you can share the burden. From making decisions together to sharing the good and the bad.”

Recently, one of the projects the pair have been working on is the latest version of their website, which Tim says has been quite the challenge. “You can often fall into the trap of thinking something is never good enough. But sometimes you just have to move forward and agree. Perfect is the enemy of good.”

On the contrary, the most tricky project for Daan is the work they did for the Dutch wallet brand Secrid. “We had a rocky start and their way of working was very different from ours. It got to a point where I nearly wanted to throw in the towel, but Tim wanted to give it one more chance. With the help of our lead designer Jerrie, it eventually worked out really well and we’re very happy with the result.”
Inspired by having a diverse team and collaborating together, Tim and Daan have created an environment where creativity shines. “Seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds under one BiA roof gives me a very proud feeling and keeps me motivated to do what I do,” says Tim. When it comes to reflecting on specific, inspirational people, Daan hasn’t ever subscribed to that. He says, “I’m very much self-taught. As entrepreneurs, we always think we can do it better than what's already out there. But creatively speaking, I’m inspired by some of the people working here and the work they produce on a daily basis.”

Looking around them at the team they work within has allowed Tim and Daan to learn from each other, finding a balance between their working styles. While Tim says he has a tendency to be “slightly too serious”, Daan’s comparatively optimistic personality has rubbed off on him, “I started seeing things more from his perspective,” says the MD. Daan, on the other hand, simply says he’s learnt “A lot.” 

He continues, “It’s a question that almost makes me emotional. I share a lot with Tim outside of work as well and spar with him on many issues. I went through a divorce the last few years and he was always there for me. I really value his opinion and he can give me fresh insights into the way he looks at things. I appreciate that we’re both very open to each other’s opinions and I can say I grew a lot as a person, both in my work, as well as in my personal life thanks to Tim.”

When they aren’t sharing their working moments, the pair can be found sharing their time not just by themselves, but with their families too. Tim says, “Our collaboration also spans beyond Build in Amsterdam: given our mutual love for sports we decided to start an adventure and travel company called Land of Ride. With that, our aim is to gather a community of explorers with a desire to go on tailor-made adventures, be that skateboarding, skiing, motor-riding, or other types of sports.”

Daan agrees, “We go on holidays together, we surf, snowboard, ski and go on all sorts of trips, sometimes with our families. Our collaboration extends beyond Build in Amsterdam. We recently started Land of Ride and even a real-estate business. We decided that we’re going to keep being partners regardless of what we do.”

Summing up their partnership, Tim remembers their initial collaboration: “A long time ago, before we started Build in Amsterdam, I said something to Daan that still holds true: if you can’t divide, you can’t multiply. I’m glad to see that 10 years later we’re still doing this together.”

And Daan agrees: “I hope we keep building together for a very, very long time.”

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Build in Amsterdam, Mon, 12 Dec 2022 17:04:00 GMT