Realizing our purpose…
We realized, to make a larger impact for more projects and clients, we needed a team, we needed to grow – we cannot do this on our own. We were only 23 years old, with no experience in building companies. We had to go with the flow and keep it simple: get excellent projects in, write excellent applications, and make sure to win them… and never forget to celebrate! Together, we found a true purpose: to work hard to help our clients, so that they can make their positive impact on the world. Today, this purpose remains embedded in the very DNA of Catalyze and continues to be the biggest motivation and driver of our growth as a company.
Initially we had great success together in the Netherlands, but soon after starting Theodoor moved to Orlando, Florida for 5 years to chase an American dream. What came next was unexpected. Divided between the Netherlands and the US, we had stumbled upon a winning business model. We had a unique edge: we were in two time-zones and could work 24/7. Year round, our clients always came first, and they loved it! Every month, we had business trips between the US and the Netherlands. While waiting at the airport, a 23-year-old Theodoor would always call ahead, to make sure the beers were ready for his arrival. We were both full of excitement for these trips, which we spent working hard and celebrating our success. We still remember everything like yesterday, one moment we would drive down to have a late night at tropical Ocean’s Drive in Miami Beach, while the next morning at 5am you are wrapping up a proposal at the local Starbucks or hotel lobby. Or we were working late together on a proposal when Jalal mentioned how tired he was. Theodoor carried on working for some time before noticing how quiet it was. “Where is Jalal?” He went into the other room to find Jalal laying asleep on the office carpet. It was 4am.
Our clients were amazed; they would wake up in the morning in the Netherlands and their mailbox would be full of documents, because Theodoor had worked through the night in the US. Sometimes the speed at which we worked even annoyed our clients! It was a strange experience for Theodoor, working in a different time zone. At some point it felt like there was radio silence: the day in Europe was over, and he was in his own virtual time zone where he worked totally undisturbed, because everyone was sleeping. It was like being in a twilight zone. These early years of Catalyze were very heavy for us, but we always had each other’s back. If on occasion, some trouble arose with clients, or if we did not understand something, we were there to support each other. If Jalal had a critical call, Theodoor would wake up in the middle of the night. We always believed in each idea and strived to make it into a good, feasible project. And besides the fun years, we never forgot to always strive for the highest quality, go the extra mile for clients, and always, truly always go for the win, no matter how hard it seems.