Life after startup – How I got fat

Tired and fat mister awesome


“You got fat”

My wife casually blurts out while we are sitting on our home balcony on a Sunday morning.

I put my phone down on the balcony table, and look back at her.

“Well, good morning to you too..”

Truth is, she was right.

The past 6 months felt like 5 years, in all the good, the bad and the ugly ways you can imagine.

Especially the Paris trip was fun

From doing all-nighters and crazy last minute trips to anywhere in Europe and US to having trouble sleeping and dealing with a lovely but explosive 2,5 year old at home that went on a destructive rampage through the house.

“Look mommy, my metal Plane can fly into the TV”

Me getting fat is proof that I clearly still have a thing or two to learn about balancing work and life.

As we are nearing the end of the first half of this event season and slowly approaching the summer holiday, i thought a 6 month reflection on the good, bad and ugly of a new venture after startup, might be in order.

The good

As I am scrolling through the pictures of the past 6 months (the only way I can even remember what happened) the first thing that strikes me is perhaps also the thing I was looking for the most: The need to explore the world again and make new connections.

Having beers with the amazing TU delft intern team that helped us build our digital superconnectors game

Over the past 6 months alone I have made over 1000 new connections on LinkedIn. Out of these I would say I have had at least a 30 minute conversation with each of 500 people. Basically I have been meeting approximately 20 new people per week on average in the last 25 weeks.

Also we organized more than 10 events in cities all over Europe and the US such as Barcelona, Austin, st. Gallen, New York, Amsterdam and Berlin.

This has been overwhelming in terms of inspiration, impulses and creativity. But most of all it has been a fantastic boost in feeling part of something bigger.

Also it made me feel like I was performing at the best of my abilities again, which to me is an important part of my mental well-being.

The Bad

I have written several other articles articulating the difficulties I have faced in combining a startup with being a recently minted father.

Where evenings and mornings used to be buffer zones for extra work, sports routines and time to relax I have been struggling to fit everything in the working day.

But all this logistical planning wasn’t just putting pressure on me, but also this put pressure on my wife, which meant that she needed to pick up a lot of the work at home when I was traveling, while working a full time job and commuting.

Recently we decided to combine the Berlin event with a family trip, all good until the alarm woke us at 05.45

This has also put pressure on our relationship, so using the coming weeks of quiet is a good time to reflect together on how to improve.

The ugly

No matter how many hours of coaching I buy, it seems to be ingrained in my personality to not be able to do things with moderation, and every few months I need to get myself back on track.

Setting up a new business has been such an absolute focus that I have let my physical health slip more than anything, which obviously doesn’t make sense as the sports routine has served me very well in the past to actually give the extra energy boost that I needed. But combining this with a busy homefront is something I really struggled with.

What also didn’t help is that the events sector that I ventured into, is all about late afternoon/evening programs. Dinners, snacks and especially lots of drinks became the norm, but also very unhealthy.

Lots of amazing austin style bbq and new friends

I will now get back into a period of focus to rebalance my physical health back on the priorities list. This generally happens through pretty tight regimens of no drinking, no sweets, and lots of other no’s.

One benefit of this not being my first rodeo though, is that I know myself well enough by now to catch myself in the act of letting myself slip and acting on it with the right support structure.

The right support structure

One of the support structures I am most grateful for is something me and 3 close friends call “the serious group”. I have been doing this since almost 5 years and I can only recommend it to everyone.

The serious group also enjoying an unhealthy snack

It’s basically a yearly, quarterly, monthly goal setting cycle and reflection that helps keep me accountable for the goals I set myself.

The greatest thing about doing this with close friends is that they are not afraid to call bullshit on you when they hear you fall back into a pattern they have seen before, this article is a good example of a half year reflection I would share with them.

Marathon not a sprint

Was the belly worth it? I would say, no it wasn’t.

The focus of the past months has been absolutely productive and brought many results, such as 10 fully booked events, a massive growth of 50 to almost 500 superconnectors, more than 100 startups helped so far and an amazing team that can take on any challenge.

The super pirates going on tour

But when I think back of how I have felt physically and how this can affect the time with my family and my future performance it definitely doesn’t make sense.

Sprints like this mean you start running on adrenaline at some point. The deceiving part is that the results are very good for a while, but adrenaline is not a long term fuel.

While often entrepreneurship might look like very strong sprinters trying to overtake each other, the reality is that it is much more similar to running a marathon.

It’s something that might take a small initial sprint to get away from the rest of the group, but eventually I have to find a new pace that can carry me to the finish line, and hopefully with less of a belly.

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