Mike van Hoenselaar - Visual Summary

Mike van Hoenselaar

1. How Did You Start Your Journey in Growth and Digital Marketing?

I started actually as a developer a long time ago. I did front-end, I did backend, and somewhere along the lines, I thought maybe design is something that is very interesting. So I started an allocation in designing, so I did some UX design, psychology design, etc. and when I was at graduation I started my own company, which was really fun.  

I also worked at a design agency full-time, so I did double full time. There it was front and back end, but with my own company we did the whole package with design and development. But somewhere after two or three years I discovered that it became a product, you build a website and it’s just website.

I have a business partner, and we decided that we had to take the next step and keep improving the things that we make, so we started to do a lot of marketing as well, and a bit more marketing, and a more marketing, and a bit less development, and it turned into growth hacking. I was very glad I worked in it because I could combine everything that I’d been doing in the last 15 years into one specific thing.

2. Could You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Companies?

You said it very well already. Boswachters is a deutch word. I would explain it as online foresters. We have a big vision of “We have the people that take care of a website or a project and we see or a force or project as a tree or a bush and we’re growing.” Boswachters is someone that actually taking care of the forest. So we always say that we really good at achieving the right results, and the right results in a tree is fruit, so we have plenty of fruit that we can take care of.

Escape Rooms Nederlands is a company that aggregates all of the escape rooms. I needed a project and it turned into a business. I needed something that I could run experiments on really quickly – what better way to do it than something that you own yourself. An escape room is you get locked in a room, and you get 60 minutes to escape by solving puzzles and riddles.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it’s really really big, there are 10,000 escape rooms in the world, and in Netherlands we have 430 so it’s really big in the Netherlands as well. I created a platform, it’s now after a year the biggest one in the Netherlands. We’re now trying to solve how to get everybody on board, we have three business models at the moment that are actually working. We’re desperately working to make them successful.

Those are the two things that take most of my time at the moment.

3. Who Are Some of the Successful Growth Hackers That You Learned From or Inspired You?

A lot, and they keep changing because I really strongly believe in the full stack marketing approach. Some people call it team marketing. It becomes better than if it’s you marketing, and I consider myself between you and the team somewhere. It’s changing, because I’m always trying to learn, then I’m learning more about email, the people differ, but if I can mention a few, obviously Sean Ellis for coining the term and making this work for me – now I have something that everything comes together in.

Someone else, David Arnoux, I don’t know if you know him, he now lives in the Netherlands and runs the Growth Tribe, which is a really cool company that teaches people and startups and corporates to become a growth hacker.

Obviously Neil Patel, I really love what he’s doing. Everybody mentions Neil Patel, obviously he has a big team around that, he does a lot of big things as well.

Ton Wesseling is not necessarily a growth hacker, but he’s in the online marketing scene and I really love his approach. He’s from the Netherlands by the way. I love his approach on how to do experiments in a scientific way, how to interpret data, what it means, and what you can actually do with it.

4. What Are Your Top Pieces of Advice for Growth Hackers?

I would say keep on learning. For me, this is all about rapid learning. I can teach you all kinds of tools, and for me it’s all about strategy. Keep on learning, never cross the status quo, always be enthusiastic about everything that’s happening because when we hang up, when we stop the session, something changed, and it’s our job to find out where it is, so that’s why you should keep on learning.

Making mistakes fast and often. I always see a mistake as something that’s going to happen anyway and it depends on how you see it and how you use it, so failure is not a bad thing.

5. Which Growth Tools or Resources Do You Encourage People to Explore?

I use a lot. What I can do is mention a couple that I used this week, so they’re pretty relevant at the moment. I’m trying out some of the tools of Any Growth, they have a list, a library of tools, and some of them I like, some of them I don’t like, but it’s definitely cool to check out. You see more and more companies doing similar things.

I’m also using a little hack, a LinkedIn bot that helps me grow my network within LinkedIn but also find interesting people and it tries to connect with them. So for me it’s a great way to test if I can increase my outreach via LinkedIn.

I use Hotjar a lot, it really helps me to understand the why of customers. Hotjar has a lot of different functionalities. One of the tools within Hotjar that I really like is you record behaviour from visitors, so you learn very fast, because tools from Google Analytics cannot tell you why, they only tell you that there is something missing.