It takes the whole city of Amsterdam to raise a business

What It Takes to Start a Business

I remember very clearly how I took Berber aside last year in August to share with her my ideas about this business idea I’ve had in mind already for a while – creating a platform for storytelling tours with a social impact. The season had just ended, I had made enough money giving tours to survive the next winter in Portugal. But I’ve been absolutely exhausted from all the tourists, the consumption of experiences, the hectic and the noise in town. I was definitely ready to go back to my peaceful wooden house on the farm where I live in Portugal. But next summer would come and then what? 

I’ve had amazing experiences working as a tour guide in Amsterdam. Giving tours has been my way of sharing not just important parts of Amsterdam’s history but also a fun and creative way to create awareness about things that really matter to me. Berber and I had been working for the same tour guiding company for years. For our colleagues we’ve always been the hippies amongst the guides due to our unconventional lifestyles. Last summer, Berber often joined just the end of my tour simply because she loved to witness the sweet hugging part when I said goodbye to the people that have been on a tour with me for 3 hours. (Yes, you can create intimacy and connection with strangers within such a short amount of time! ) Then we would go and have a coffee at il momento, our favourite coffee place next to the Multatuli Statue. And that’s where this magical journey has started…in between tours, on a bench, drinking coffee, dreaming of a different way of giving tours…
And here we are, one year later!
If there is one thing I can say about starting a business together – it takes much more than just having a KvK number, opening a business bank account and creating a website. It’s a deep personal and spiritual journey.
We’ve been going through so many ups and downs, we’ve been facing existential fears, we’ve had to kick our egos in the ass, we’ve had to let go of control and to learn how to give space but also how to step into our own power, we’ve learned about the importance of brutally honest communication and we’ve learned how to trust and we have experienced synchronicity at work…
 
I want to thank a few people without whom this project could not exist:
Thank you Berber for your commitment, your loyalty, your patience and your trust in me and our project – Tours that Matter could definitely not exist without you!
Thank you Sabine for all our great conversations and endless brain storms about how we can make the world a better place through changing tourism in Amsterdam, for seeing the ‘bigger picture’ and for believing in a different way of doing business.
Thank you Bas for your wise buddhistic insights and for allowing us to make your home our office.
Much thanks goes to our dear friend and ‘ex-co-founder’ Shelly. For being open to find new forms instead of just cutting ties. We appreciate you a lot!
 
Thank you Dorothe for bringing order into our accountant mess, for being so patient and supportive.
Thanks to il momento for being a second home in town and for all the yummy coffees on the house 🙂
Special thanks goes to our direct collaborative partners: Henkjan from the Cacaomuseum for his inspiring work and all his stories from the Amazon, Wouter from the Zorgboederij Marsen for his open mindedness and his love for our mother nature, Eva de Klerk for sharing her activistic experiences at the NDSM with us and Cindy for giving us access to the ateliers, Rik from MyRedLight for allowing us to have a look behind and beyond the windows, Tim from the Upcycle for giving us a spot in his inspiring shop, the Storytelling Centre Mezrab for having supported us over all these years to become powerful storytellers. 
AND  – a super special big thank goes to Peggy from One Big Agency and Jo from Webspacez who magically appeared in our lives and saved our asses when we were about to go bananas.Thank you Peggy for giving us direction, support and most important – for truly seeing and believing in us.Thank you Jo for your enthusiasm and for putting an end to the never ending website struggle. Finally we got a site in the air we absolutely love! 
 
I also would like to thank my yoga and meditation teacher Igor from the Jewel of Yoga who has been a big source of support and inspiration for many years. Thank you for giving both brutal & kind but always loving adjustments to my body & mind. You’ve helped me to embrace and to show my vulnerabilities, to be truthful, to become me…
A heart warming thank goes to my son Bendush who reminds me in the right moment to take brakes. Jumping on the trampoline, telling stories, building a hut in the forest, painting stones etc are great and yet so simple ways to be in the here and now.
Very special thanks goes to my parents, Sylvia and Thomas. Thank you for all your generous support. Thank you for trusting and believing in me even in times when you find it difficult to relate to me and my decisions. That’s unconditional love!
 
As you can see – it takes a whole village to raise a business.
 
May Tours that Matter serve the world in the best and most positive way!
 
Aho
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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