Hugo Messer

Agile entrepreneur.

Since age 11, I knew I wanted to create my own company. The first experiments started when I was 16, selling smoke detectors door to door (a very good ‘sales school’!). To learn entrepreneurship, I did an MBA in Rotterdam. Although that was the best university-level education available, the only thing taught was how to work in a large enterprise. 

I then had to sweat to convince my professor to do my internship in my own startup; everyone did that in a big corporate. During the internship I wrote a business plan for I-Clip. My thesis was about the critical success factors of startups.

We submitted my business plan to a competition, organized by Accenture and few other big corporations. To our surprise, we won it and got 200.000 in consulting hours plus some cash. This taught me not to join startup competitions. Our plan was raising funds from VC’s. Since this was 2001 (the internet bubble burst), we didn’t. After 1,5 years we pulled the plug and I had to get the only salaries job in my life. 

When that job ended, I went on a trip to India and decided to start an outsourcing company upon returning to the Netherlands: Bridge Global. After lots of ups and downs, since 2015, a great management team is running the company. My wife and I wanted to change scenery and took our kids to Bali for an experiment of one year in 2016. We still live there, so the experiment worked out. 

In 2016, I started an agile innovation consultancy: Ekipa. Starting your second services firm is easier than the first! Ekipa is helping large enterprises become agile. We help people change the way they work, organize, structure and create innovation. Ekipa today has ‘offices’ in Jakarta. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

I’ve recently started ‘venturing out’ to bring more innovation to Indonesia. I became a partner in Wright Partners (a corporate venture builder) and Bali investment club (investing in impact scale-ups). 

My experiences building Bridge and Ekipa help in the work I do with customers. I’m always experimenting with new ways of organizing. I’m particularly inspired by

These three authors describe ideas and experiences in building modern organizations. We’ve captured many of these ideas into our Ekipa ‘operating model‘. 

As a coach, I focus on ‘having impact’. People who want to grow and have an impact, need to think their life through. You need to get your priorities right and the best starting point is ‘what do I want out of life’. 2 Books have helped me answer that question:

Feel free to get in touch if you see a way for us to collaborate.

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