10 years of Fronteer | 2008: When James en Martijn founded Fronteer

10 years Fronteer. Wow. Without realising it 10 years went by and we are celebrating our anniversary! 10 years of people joining our team and moving on to find new fronteers. We thought it would be great to take this moment to look back and catch up with the people that have been part of the team over the years. Year by year we’ll move from 2008 – our birth year – to 2019. Today, we kick off this series by putting the spotlight on 2008 and the people who started Fronteer and shaped it into the company we are today. Introducing: James Veenhoff and Martijn Pater, both strategist and founders of Fronteer.

Why did you start Fronteer?

JV: I was thinking about the future, where to work. But I couldn’t see myself working at any other company that I saw around me. So when Evelien suggested that we should set up a company together, that’s what we did.

MP: I thought it would be a great idea to start a consulting firm with a twist, with a good friend.

Who do you consider a game changing client?

MP: That must have been NOKIA where we did a project in four continents. It was a big project in the midst of the financial crisis in which we gained a lot of international experience.

JV: Blanca Juti. She really embraced our way of working and recognised its value. It was great to see how co-creation helped to shape on of the most profitable divisions of Nokia. It was great to see we can play in the Champions League. And she’s an amazing person and it was great to see there were clients that wanted to work the way we wanted to work.

What was your most memorable moment?

JV: A moment I’ll never forget is that in 2011 things were looking pretty bad and I was about to announce that we we’re all going to take a pay cut. At this particular moment, KLM called and asked us to do 3 amazing projects. The sun broke through the clouds, we were back in the game. More recently, I would say that travelling to Brasil for business is a proof that our belief in co-creation is valid.

MP: One of the memorable experiences was a road trip James and I made in the early days where we drove a 550-Horsepower convertible on the Highway 1 in the USA. It was a diverse trip, with a bit of denim and a bit of co-creation. It reflects the diversity of how we work today. We learned some great lessons which we still apply today.

Your biggest fuckup?

MP: My biggest fuck up has been (multiple times) thinking “I can do it all by myself.”

JV: There was a certain project in the pension industry which we should have ended. Because there was nothing we could do to succeed. We went through the process, dancing through all the steps, whereas we should have just said “no”. The project wasn’t a success for anyone.

Do you remember your most awkward moment?

JV: Another minor fuck-up. Whilst cooking a delicious meal in Valencia (where we had our temporary office abroad) I drank lots of delicious wine in the kitchen. After that I attempted to play the game “Werewolves” with hilarious consequences…

MP: During a team meeting with a coach I got so frustrated that I couldn’t control myself. I guess I was in desperate need of a holiday break (and some lessons in growing up).

What would be your dream project?

JV: I am talking to a really cool team of people in Sao Paulo right now and it would be an absolute dream to set a business with them in Latin America. Actually I see no reason why this shouldn’t happen so this dream is right up ahead.

10 years Fronteer…?

MP: As a founder it’s all about creating a legacy and hopefully we have laid the foundation for a very fresh and adaptive organisation. I’m happy to have been able to create a place where people with dreams and ambitions find their home.

JV: Let’s party!