Founder and CEO of The Birdhouse

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JAN-WILLEM CALLEBAUT

Try to describe yourself in 3 words only.

Growing, dad, founder.

Where did you get the entrepreneurial spirit?  (For example are any of your parent’s entrepreneurs, or was it self-motivation, how did you get there?)

Nobody in my family is actually an entrepreneur. I get a lot of energy out of initiating stuff and bringing crazy ideas into action and I think this is why I initially became an entrepreneur. This became clear to me, especially when I was studying engineering at university and co-founded my first company at age 19 together with my friend who was at that point finishing his PHD research. Not much later, I started spending a lot of time on the business and a lot less time studying. Eventually, I founded The Birdhouse, my current business when I was still studying, and made the switch to full-time entrepreneurship.

How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started?

When you grow as a company, in the number of employees and in revenue, you evidently grow as a person yourself as well.

Do you believe there is a ‘winning formula for becoming a ‘successful entrepreneur’? If so, what is yours?

I don’t believe there is one winning formula. Successful entrepreneurship depends on a lot of factors and can be achieved in many different ways. 

Obviously a lot of it depends on the founder(s), but things that you don’t always control yourself, like timing and market readiness are factors that in my opinion can’t be underestimated.

Top 3 mobile apps, websites that make your work and life more effective?

Evernote, Slack, Tiny Scanner.

What is the best advice you have received, and that you still follow?

“If you want to change the world, start by changing yourself.” - Gandhi

Keep your stakeholders well informed and never surprise your board members in a board meeting. 

Think twice before getting into bed with people in your business (shareholders).

Make very good agreements and talk about expectations.

What do you value most about being an EYES member?

The most valuable thing about EYES for me is the fact that I feel amongst a group of peers that I can truly trust and look up to.

Every time I attend an EYES event, it motivates me to push harder for my business. I also feel comfortable sharing problems I’m experiencing that I normally cannot share, because there is a huge ‘trust circle’ feeling between EYES members.

EYES International