AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR FOUNDER
Founded in 2019, Rebels started with one goal in mind; to realize revolutions. Throughout the last two years, we have successfully completed various projects for companies such as RTL (Videoland), LeasePlan, and the Ministry of Defence (Ministerie van Defensie). We have created multiple mobile games and just finished our latest project; a headless eCommerce webshop. After the successful launch of Rebels Rampage, we thought it was an excellent time to sit back and reflect with our founder, Michiel de Graaf.
In this blog, we discuss why he founded Rebels, the future plans for the organization, and what it takes to be a Rebel.
Why did you decide to start Rebels? And what was your idea behind Rebels in the first place?
“I have always had a growth mindset, which is one of the reasons why I founded DIQQ, my first company. I used to be an IT recruiter, and it was my responsibility to deliver the best developers in the Netherlands to clients at that time. When I founded DIQQ, I wanted to focus on a consultancy position to ensure quality placements. Yet, I realized that at DIQQ, we were placing all these incredibly talented developers at other people’s companies so that they could work on other people’s products. I knew IT was the future, so it only made sense to start my own digital agency. I see developers and IT professionals as contractors who construct homes. Whereas I just bought houses and sold houses for others, I now wanted to build my own home. I wanted to work with highly skilled developers and build a community of trust, mutual respect, and at the same time work on unique projects that challenge all of us to get a little bit better every day.”
How did you come up with the company name?
“Well, as you might have guessed, I am a bit of a Rebel myself. I like going off the beaten track, and with everything I do, I want to try and start a revolution. I want to push myself and my employees to realize the next big thing. Whether a revolution means that you are forced to think out of the box or start a daring new project, I always dream big.
Besides, I wanted to work with like-minded people. I do not want to work with people who are afraid to speak up. I want people who are not afraid to go their own way, take risks, and challenge the status quo. I believe that success is trying something new, and even if you fail, you have to try again until you succeed. Most importantly, I fully believe that you learn most through failure. When you fail, you truly take time to reflect on the process, which in the end allows you to grow as a person and as a company. But in the future, whether we succeed or fail, I am here to support my employees. I encourage them to try new things and always try and help them to be the best at what they do.”
What types of clients do you like to work with?
“I like to collaborate with our clients, to build long-term relationships based on trust, and see them as partners. Therefore, I would like to bring in larger clients, who often want our help on larger scale projects. These projects offer a more exciting challenge for our team and allow them to work with a more exciting tech stack.
Whereas some companies like to focus on one product or service, for example, webshops, I would like to continue to work with a large variety of clients and on many different types of projects. Although you might make more profit if you focus on one type of project, for example, only building Shopify webshops, you also turn into an automated factory. You will end up reusing the same code, the same tech stack, and in the end, I do not think that is a fun or challenging business model.
At Rebels, I want our developers to be excited about their work. With our developers, I want to build every house you can imagine, each house being unique. With different levels, colors, different types of skills, and different types of people. I combined my passion for IT with my passion for looking out for people, which seems to work.”
How would you describe the person that fits into work at rebels?
“I am not a developer myself, so I primarily focus on the business perspective needed for Rebels and on the company culture. I have a great team of skilled developers who have been working here since day one. They are easy-going, relaxed, get the job done, and at the end of the day, they celebrate their successes together. I believe that as a team, we can help each other get better every day.
Besides skills, I want to build a strong community. I want Rebels to be a company where you can do anything you want, gain knowledge, try something new, challenge yourself, and all other things related to personal and professional development. If you want to build a webshop, build a webshop. If you want to learn a new framework, feel free to expand on your skillset. I want Rebels to be the future, which is where the saying Rebels Realize Revolutions comes from."
What are your long-term goals for Rebels?
“I do not have one specific goal, but in general, I want the company and team to continue to grow and continue building different software solutions. I am always looking for new opportunities for Rebels while at the same time trying to ensure that the people working at Rebels have their own opportunities for personal development and growth as well. I want to give my employees the possibility to learn and be the best version of themselves here. I want my employees to work smarter, not harder. I often like to quote Bill Gates, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”. I am also a firm believer in finding the easiest solution to complex problems.
For those reasons, the next focus for Rebels is to continue working on great projects while simultaneously continuing to help our community of developers. One way we want to achieve this is by starting the Rebels Academy. The Rebels Academy wants to teach development to young professionals, students, and other interested parties so they can grow into skilled developers. The idea is similar to, for example, the Ajax Academy. Ajax has a worldwide reputation for training the kids well, so they grow into professional and international stars. Because good developers are scarce and it is difficult to learn everything by yourself, our Rebels want to help teach and train the next generation of developers.
Together, Rebels can continue to grow, and you can also grow with us. This way, I can continue to work with proactive, innovative people, who stand up for themselves, and dare to take risks.
Together, I believe that we can take things to the next level and realize revolutions.”
Michiel de Graaf, CEO
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