Handcrafted wooden watches, each one unique. Woodwatch is in the top 10 of the fastest growing webshops in the Netherlands, and its founders were nominated for the Sprout top 25 under 25, the list of the most successful Dutch entrepreneurs under 25 years old.
Woodwatch was founded 4 years ago by Daniël Salimian, Kevin van der Veer and Jeroen Westerbeek. “Daniël and I have been friends since high school and we were roommates in college”, Kevin explains. “We always wanted to start a business together and back then wooden sunglasses were very popular. We thought it would be really cool to start selling wooden watches.”
“It’s funny, I didn’t really know Jeroen when we started our business”, Kevin continues. “But things just clicked and we officially registered WoodWatch at the Chamber of Commerce within a week after meeting each other.”
Trees For All
The next step was finding the right supplier. “That was the really tricky part”, Kevin says. “We needed high quality wood, but most of the stuff you can find online just isn’t good enough, as in, you can throw away more than half of what you order. And I’d say about 90% of the companies saying they’re suppliers, are actually intermediaries.”
Through word of mouth, they finally found a quality supplier in China. “I’ve traveled to China about four times, because it’s important to meet the people and check it out for ourselves”, Kevin says.
Sustainability is very important for the company. “Right from day one, we decided to work with Trees For All, a Dutch foundation”, Kevin explains. “We donate the number of trees needed to produce our watches to Trees For All, so they can plant trees in the Philippines. And we also give our customers the option to donate themselves while ordering on our website.”
“More and more of our competitors are doing the same thing, also through the same foundations”, he continues. “From a business perspective, you could say that’s too bad, because it’s what sets us apart. But I think it’s actually a good thing that more companies plant trees.”
WoodWatch recently opened a new office in Rotterdam. “We still have our customer service and logistics in Groningen, because we still feel very connected to Groningen. But the three of us are now working in Rotterdam and actually really working together in the same room for the first time since we started”, Kevin laughs.
“Up until last year, Daniël and I were busy finishing our master’s and Jeroen was traveling the world for a year. So I was in Groningen, Daniël in Rotterdam and Jeroen pretty much wherever he was at that time. It wasn’t easy to graduate or travel while you’re also trying to build a company, but we managed. It just takes more careful planning and communication tools like Slack also help”, Kevin explains.
WoodWatch started growing explosively in 2016 and a year later, the company was named one of the 10 fastest growing webshops in the Netherlands and the three founders were nominated for Sprout’s 25 under 25.
“One of the reasons we suddenly started growing, was because we started focussing on countries like France and Germany too”, Kevin explains. About 95% of what we do is online, so it’s really a matter of translating the website and do research on the differences in regulations. Facebook, Google and Instagram are great for marketing, although it’s not as easy as I just made it sound”, Kevin laughs.
“I guess going international can feel like a very big and sometimes scary step for a lot of companies, but we’ve always had this attitude of let’s just try it and see how it goes.”
Woodwatch’s plans of growing internationally don’t stop at France and Germany. “There’s still a lot of room for us to grow in France, but we’re also slowly starting to focus on Scandinavia. And even outside of Europe, like Canada, the US and China, so pretty big plans!”
Check out www.woodwatch.com