Tour Report: Self-Governing Businesses in the Netherlands

As part of a corporate tour on April 2–5, VkusVill (a Russian retail chain selling organic products for healthy eating) visited 8 companies, and the tour participants met one of the authors of The Corporate Startup in Amsterdam!

As part of a corporate tour on April 2–5, VkusVill (a Russian retail chain selling organic products for healthy eating) visited 8 companies, and the tour participants met one of the authors of The Corporate Startup in Amsterdam! 

Day 1
Our trip was eventful from the get-go. In just one day, we visited three companies: 
В офисе компании NEXT Amsterdam 
  • NEXT Amsterdam (accelerator and master of introducing innovative ecosystems into large businesses)
  • Rockstart (the first accelerator in the Netherlands serving Maersk, Shell and others)
  • Videobutler (a videoconference streaming service whose creators invented New Work, a new system of corporate governance)

Insights from the coauthor of The Corporate Startup 

This book is the winner of the 2018 Management Book of The Year Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a well-timed addition to the corporate innovation discussion. Anyone who deals with innovation in mid-sized and large businesses should definitely read it. 

Tim Deeson, the Managing Director at Deeson Group, recommended this book, saying, “The principles and practices, if well implemented can save a company from the disruption death march.”

"The Corporate Startup"

The Corporate Startup is a hands-on guide for well-established companies that want to develop and support their opportunities for innovation.

  • We live in a rapidly changing world. Established companies now feel more pressure to innovate. 
  • The challenge most companies face is how to develop new products for new markets while managing one’s core business. 
  • The principles and practices in this book give companies an insight into how to manage innovation while they are working in their core business. 
  • The Corporate Startup provides platforms, visualization, templates, tools and methods that are easy to use when developing new products and business models.

We found the model of The Corporate Startup and its ideas about innovative ecosystems very useful when developing our innovative strategy. Reading this book is a must for all corporate leaders who want to make their companies more innovative.

Additionally, we would like to mention some important innovative insights of our Managing Partnter Alesya Glushchuk

It is impossible to use same style of management to steer both a team that makes an old product and a team that launches a new one.
  • People who have gone through the process of building a company are valued greatly nowadays. This is one of the key factors considered when people are chosen to be members of an innovative team. 
  • Every three minutes, a new tech startup is launched somewhere in the world, but 90% of them soon die. 
  • Videobutler offers unique job opportunities for the disabled. Twenty Videobutlers help to arrange 2,500 videoconferences a year. The company boasts zero personnel turnover. Employees work in teams of eight without any hierarchy and make decisions together. A very clever method is used to determine the strengths of each team member, based on which he or she is assigned a suitable role. 

Interesting tidbits about Videobutler: 

  • Videobutler ( offers remote IT support, videoconferencing and client consulting services. The company’s team supplies an exceptionally personal service combined with high-quality equipment, anywhere on the planted. In our increasingly automated world, Videobutler provides meeting participants with vital personal support. 
  • Videobutler is a partner of such companies as Cisco, Microsoft, Polycom and Logitech. Among its clients are Canon, Gazprom and Transport & Offshore Services.

Videobutler services include: 

  • Virtual conference halls
  • Audio integration (conference calls) and videoconferencing 
  • Conference recording 
  • Webcasting and webinars 
  • Integration of various types of videoconferencing technology 

Videobutler offers an additional service called ‘The Doctor’s On The Way!’ that gives customers an opportunity of having a flawless video consultation with a doctor. 

Interesting facts about Rockstart:

  • Rockstart is one of the first multi-vertical accelerators in Europe founded in Amsterdam in 2011 to give startups access to the market, capital, knowledge and community. Since then Rockstart, has become an expert in creating complete ecosystems for specific fields such as Digital Health, Smart Energy and Artificial Intelligence.
  • As part of this program, startups participate in more than 30 seminars on lean startup, growth strategies, fundraising, sales, PR and marketing, team and individual growth and many others. In 100 days, startuppers present their businesses to investors, partners, entrepreneurs and reporters on Demo Day. 
  • Finally, startups spend a month in Silicon Valley, networking and learning from the leaders of the world’s technology scene.  
  • Since its inception, Rockstart has supported and invested in more than 150 startups. Consequently, over EUR 69 million was raised and north of 700 people hired. 
  • The company used to follow the principles of holacracy but has since moved away from them. 
  • Rockstart has experience in developing and implementing programs for Maersk, Shell, the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands and many others. 
Day 2
We spent the day taking part in panels with top managers and CEOs, sharing experiences, discussing innovation, networking and continuous development. 
Группа в ожидании нового опыта

IdeaHackers explained how to establish perfect feedback with clients and showed us the right way to integrate it into company processes. 

Luscii is a digital platform that can be used to monitor patients at home and communicate with them remotely.

Hike One is a digital product design agency with its own academy where employees can improve their design skills. 

Visit to IdeaHackers

Interesting info about IdeaHackers:

  • The team of IdeaHackers is a community of people who like to create products and share their knowledge. The company selects highly qualified professionals with interesting startups and cool innovative projects. 
  • IdeaHackers are supported by a network of more than 120 professionals. 
  • The network includes experts in business development, UX, visual design, innovation and change management, web design, and video game development. 
  • The company also holds Lean Startup workshops where participants’ ideas and their prospects are analyzed for two days and then a one-day seminar is held to offer tips on how to bring these ideas to life. 
В офисе цифровой платформы здравоохранения Luscii

Интересные факты о компании Luscii:

  • Luscii (pronounced ‘Lucy’) is a digital healthcare platform design to assist in daily patient care. The Luscii app makes it possible to monitor patients and communicate with them remotely. Luscii is available to patients and caregivers in hospitals and public institutions.
  • The company is a partner of Apple Mobility and Cisco. 
  • More than 1,000,000 virtual consultations.
  • More than 350 healthcare professionals work with the Luscii service.
  • More than 40 hospital care facilities and medical centers work with Luscii.
  • Each month, more than 100,000 vital sign metrics are sent via the application. 
Следующий визит

Interesting information about Hike One: 

  • In 2008, Rick le Roy founded UNITiD together with Mattis Collard. In 2017, they renamed the company Hike One. Hike One is a digital product design agency that now has offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven.
  • The company helps customers with high-quality UX design in general, as well as with design prints 2.0, hi-fi-prototyping and user testing in particular.
  • Hike One Academy is a peer education program aimed at enhancing and improving design skills. The Academy also conducts external workshops on an irregular basis and on request.
Day 3
Here’s how much the tour participants managed to do on this day: 
  • They learned how, the strongest retail brand in the Netherlands, employs the self-management principle despite having more than four million active clients. 
  • They got acquainted with the only cloud communication service on the market, Voiceworks B.V. that allows its users to organize all communications within a company with a single tool.
  • They met entrepreneurs from the global incubator network Impact Hub Amsterdam that includes more than 16,000 participants in more than 100 cities around the world. 

Interesting facts about

  • offers customers a wide range of products such as books, toys and electronic devices. According to a 2015 study, it is the most powerful retail brand with the most anticipated growth in the Netherlands. is owned by Ahold Delhaize.
  • employs the principles of self-management. The company has more than four million active clients in the Netherlands and Belgium. 
  • The e-commerce website offers over six million products that can be bought in one click, including new used Dutch and international products. 
  • The annual revenue of is 1.3 billion dollars. It is a competitor to Wehkamp, Amazon and Overstock. 
  • Each month, the mobile application of is downloaded by 112,544 users.
  • employees take an active interest in the website’s personalization, stocking and CoEs. 
Sharing the experience

Interesting facts about Voiceworks: 

  • Voiceworks is a competitor of RoutIT, 8x8 and ShoreTel.
  • The four key values that are reflected in everything the company designs, develops and delivers are about being personal, professional, innovative and flexible. 
  • Voiceworks offers a full range of services including product design, customer support, installation and setup consulting. 

In three days, we visited nine companies that employ the principles of self-governance and self-management. Now, we at FastForward are ready to face new challenges, set even more incredible objectives for ourselves and achieve results no matter the odds!


Join FastForward management tours to learn unique practices from industry leaders!

Participants about the tours
These people have visited our tours and ready to share their experience and impressions.
Anton Nesiforov
Anton NesiforovProcess Manager for fruit and vegetable preservation, beverages, and alcohol

On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.

Alena Nesiforova
Alena NesiforovaUnified Concept Manager for Izbenka and VkusVill

We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.