Our history

From TU Delft to Club van Delft, Jongens van de Tekeningen and Flatland. This is our story.

Our history

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2007 – 2010

Prologue: Club van Delft

In March 2007 the first founders, Nathan Volkers and Martin Nagelsmit, registered the ‘Club of Delft’ with the Chamber of Commerce. The origin of their initiative lies in their shared background at TU Delft. The combination of an analytical and creative mindset with a large network of multidisciplinary students resulted in the first market offering: the ThinkTank, a multidisciplinary group of young and bright students who work on cases for our clients.

In these years we were still full-time students. The campus turned out to be an ideal place to test our ideas, business models and our entrepreneurial ambitions. In retrospect, all the ingredients of our methods, principles and beliefs for the current way of working were present in these early days. We developed a strong foundation for facilitating co-creation workshops and design sprints, visualization in the process and as a communication tool, and last but not least we got to know and connect many talents. Among them we met our third founding partner, Bob van Putten.

2010 – 2012

A new start-up

After graduation in early 2010, things had to get more serious for obvious reasons. When it became real, the Club van Delft became a start-up – with all its highs and lows. Dealing with the pressure of getting new customers, doing the actual work and working on the business. We had a lot of fun exploring the breadth of our methods and ideas, ranging from organizing our ThinkTanks on a digital platform to hosting TEDx events and creating explanatory visualizations.

During these years, Martin decided to continue his scientific career and focus on his PhD in Aerospace Engineering. In the meantime we worked a lot with freelance visual thinkers for a growing number of clients who asked about ‘the boys from the drawings’. There we meet Tomas Pasma, Robert Smit and Piet van Rosmalen, they became our colleagues.

In this way, our clients decided what our next focus would be: visual thinking. It was inevitable we had to outgrow the startup phase and grow into a viable business. And in addition to our focus, they chose our name: ‘Jongens van de Tekeningen’ / ‘Boys of the Drawings’. With a growing portfolio, ambitions and team, we decided to seek mentorship and joined the Entrepreneurs Organization’s accelerator program to take the next big step forward.

2012 – 2016

Jongens van de Tekeningen

Our focus on visual thinking and design thinking methodology resulted in rapid growth. Growth in quality, growth in team and turnover. A positive cycle that we continued for the next four years. Growing our team from 2 to 16 in early 2017.

In these years we moved from our alma mater to the center of Rotterdam and settled in the Groothandelsgebouw. In 2016 we moved internally to the front of the building, on the square in front of Rotterdam Central Station. It was the first time we were able to really invest in creating a great work environment for the team and session rooms for our work with clients.

2016 – 2017

Launch of Flatland

In the fall of 2016 we launched a new brand at the Dutch Design Week, Flatland was born and we showed it to the public in our own exhibition and workshop space in Eindhoven. Coming up with a new name and brand is one thing, but actually launching it into the stratosphere and – more importantly – into the hearts and minds of our customers, followers and own team is another.

We decided to take it step by step. Our first metaphorical step as a team coincided with our 5 year anniversary in May 2017. We celebrated our 5 year journey and success with a team trip to Slovenia and embarked on a journey to the next step for each individual team member and for the company as whole. Everywhere we went we were greeted as Flatland. While we literally enjoyed the view for a while, that also marked the turning point. We were really looking forward to a new phase with lots of ambitions!

2018 – 2021

Drawing a better world together

Where as Jongens van de Tekeningen we made existing ideas visual, as Flatland we created a more comprehensive responsibility. We shifted from drawing to thinking along, innovating and designing change processes. Clients are now working with us to design a new strategy, implement complex changes or innovations. But working visually is still our unique strength, so drawing and co-creation remains the foundation of our business.

Our focus on customers has also changed a bit: we work more and more for mission-driven companies who want to make an impact on one or more sustainable development goals. As an agency we are always focused on realizing positive change together with our clients. And change is hard to imagine unless you draw it. Flatland’s mission is therefore: Drawing a better world together.

The covid-crisis was a challenge at first, but it soon became clear that working online also had all kinds of advantages. We quickly became an expert in energetic online sessions and there visual thinking was also an amazing added value. 2020 hasn’t stopped us!

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10 years Flatland

The past few years have been about growth and development, strengthening our propositions and telling our own story more clearly. The team grew in number to 25 people and therefore also grew in diversity in backgrounds, ages and expertise. Over the past ten years we have delivered more than 2500 projects. In 2022 we will celebrate our tenth anniversary.

When we look at what we’ve been through and accomplished in the past ten years, we can’t wait for another 10, or 100, years!