CreativeMornings at Spaces Rotterdam: Investing with Niels Mulder

A friend of mine once told me that, if you get up early to meet with complete strangers for a group activity, you probably have a lot in common. At the time, we were talking about recreational sports. But at the most recent CreativeMornings event in Rotterdam, I realized that this theory rings true no matter what.

Some see the potential they can achieve if they maximize their days. Others cherish the special occasion to do something different with their mornings. And some people simply enjoy a free breakfast.

Regardless of their reasons, people who choose to attend events early in the morning are a special kind of motivated.

Lodovico Marchesini introduces Forced Fellowship at the CreativeMonrings Rotterdam February edition

About CreativeMornings: Everyone Is Creative

Similar to the Awesome Foundation, CreativeMornings communities exist all around the world. Founder Tina Roth Eisenberg wanted to create a recurring, accessible event for creatives in New York City. On one Friday a month, people could gather for a free breakfast and listen to a short presentation.

Now, every month, the organization chooses a topic, and participating cities host a speaker to talk about the theme. Depending on the city, different businesses and organizations will sponsor or contribute to the event. So while this concept is internationally organized, the event is locally supported.

Plus, every Creative Morning is organized by local volunteers who want to bring this global program to their community. Additionally, anyone can join the online platform to stay updated and share their work.

The event is still free to attend, but registration is required so that organizers know how many people to expect.

Niels Mulder, CEO of Flow Money Automation, talks about the steps he took to invest in his future with his startup. Image courtesy of Keda Gomes

CreativeMornings Rotterdam: Investing with Niels Mulder

Spaces Rotterdam offered a spread of coffee, tea, croissants, juices, yogurt, and fruit to attendees as we waited for the program to begin.

The Program

As soon as the conversational hum came to a lull, program host/MC Lodovico Marchesini started the program. He began with an overview of CreativeMornings, and then introduced the theme: invest.

“What do you choose to invest in?” he asked the room. Then he quickly followed up the question with a slide that said “Forced Fellowship!”

No one gets away with a free breakfast.

But as soon as Lodovico introduced the ice breaker, the room started to buzz. I introduced myself to two women and explained that this year, I’m investing in my business. After almost two years of being a freelancer, I told them I want to step up my game by attending more events and building my network.

In contrast, one of the women said she’s “investing in rest.” As soon as I heard her say this, I almost felt silly and short-sighted. Of course investing is about more than just money! But it reminded me to consider what I’m doing to improve my well-being in addition to my business.

After a few minutes, Lodovico brought our attention back to the stage and introduced Niels Mulder, CEO of Flow Money Automation. Niels worked as a designer for Hike One before embarking on his startup journey. During his time there, he built all kinds of apps for nearly every category in the app store except finance.

A Love of Automation

Helping people with finances became an itching interest for Niels, but he had little business experience and almost no industry knowledge. He decided to become a freelance designer so that he could invest time in his work and ideas. During that experience, he learned about the financial obstacles that customers and providers encounter.

One example is taxes – although he didn’t intentionally seek out the problem. Niels realized that freelancers have to manage all aspects of their businesses, from bookkeeping to sales to administration. This obstacle inspired him to design the ideal segmentation of his income flow.

And from there, Flow Money Automation was born. But he couldn’t simply design the app and release it into the wild.

Finance apps have a unique set of challenges, such as interacting with application programming interfaces (APIs). If a third party finance app wants to service as many users as possible, it has to work with various banks. And those banks will have different APIs, which means it can take a while to build a finance app that services all those customers.

And that’s just one of the many problems Niels had to tackle. But, like many Dutch people I’ve met, he had some sound advice: “Just solve one problem at a time.”

Eventually he built an app that helps people automatically divide their income stream into personalized “buckets” for different purposes. So whether you anticipate multiple bills and fees, or you just want to put away money for a rainy day, Flow can automate that investment process for you.

Invest in Yourself

After marinating on what I learned, I felt motivated to make a small investment in myself. On the last Friday of every month, I will attend CreativeMornings and spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want. Sometimes it might be lunch with a friend, while other days it might be writing a blog post. Whatever it is, I look forward to it!

Ready to invest in your own business? Let’s talk about a marketing and content creation plan!


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