Hans van Putten - BA MBA
THE EARLY YEARS
I grew up in the Netherlands as part of a family who, both on my father’s side as well as my mother’s side, were in the fashion business. I got the entrepreneurial skills from my mother’s side and the creative skills from my father’s side, whose family has been in architecture, painting and sculpting for generations.
Naturally, I was groomed to go into the family business and studied and worked towards that one goal for years. I joined the family business in the Netherlands for 2 years but my ongoing curiosity for new things and need for more knowledge and skills took over, and made me decide to leave the business and go and get an MBA.
The 2 years of studying for my MBA in England was one of the best times of my life. Solving strategic, operational and financial problems in case studies, with my fellow students from all over the world, was so much fun. Learning about new cultures and observing how people from countries around the globe think and solve issues in different ways, was an amazing and very valuable experience.
My MBA and previously acquired expertise in various areas prepared me very well for The Gillette Company. I joined the European office in London in 1988 just as they were fighting off a hostile takeover. I thought to myself, what have I got myself into.
But the next 10 years turned out to be some of the best years for Gillette in terms of return on investment, and for me the same top return on investment in terms of experience and skills learned, across their various divisions like Blades and Razors, Male Grooming, Oral-B dental care, Waterman, Parker and Papermate pens and Braun Household appliances.
It allowed me to work with and in some cases live in various countries abroad. I started at Gillette in London, proceeded back to The Netherlands, then off to Sweden, back to The Netherlands and finally to Gillette HQ in Boston.
By the time we moved to the USA we had moved 6 times in 9 years. Even I started questioning whether we could continue the fast paced expatriate lifestyle, especially as we had two young daughters who at that point were just young enough not to mind but soon as teenagers would very much mind. So in 1998 the incredible Gillette adventure came to a close as we decided to forgo another move to yet another country or even continent by staying in the US.
As the choice was made unanimously to stay in the US the only question left was, what now? After a little bit of soul searching, some networking and a little bit of luck, I was able to acquire a small pecan roasting business, a stone’s throw from where we lived.
Over the next two decades we grew the company into a Gourmet Treats and Gifts business, marketing various roasted and flavored nuts, toffees, chocolates and cookies to customers like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Dillards, Homegoods and TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
As the shift from brick and mortar to the internet was starting to take shape, we followed the trend and embraced the modern business model, developing our own website, digital marketing campaigns and e-commerce platform. As the Carolyn’s Handmade brand was growing, I decided to outsource due to the increasing incongruent demand and capacity.
The subsequent incredible success and fast growth online with Amazon, Ebay and others gave us a great opportunity to sell the food business. In 2014 we successfully sold the Carolyn’s Handmade brand of gourmet treats and gifts and closed a new chapter in our lives.
AFTER CAROLYN’S HANDMADE
After selling the food business it was a natural progression to work with other startups and small businesses, offering help in areas like strategic planning, operations, financial modelling and controlling, web design and digital marketing as these were areas I had planned, implemented, managed and monitored for over twenty years, while riding the wave of the internet (r)evolution and growth.
I redesigned and re-positioned the www.40parklane.com site while transitioning from “gourmet treats and gifts manufacturer” to “entrepreneur advisor”. Over the last couple of years, other than working on the internal transition and re-positioning I have worked on other startups like Best Travel Planner, Oblivinon, Best Place To Retire, Gourmet Chef and more recently Canvas Unplugged.
If you’re an entrepreneur and want to pick my brain, simply contact me for a chat, remember its FREE!
GET IN TOUCH
White papers, blogs and “how to” articles are great to refer to, but they’re just one dimensional. They won’t critique your strategic plan, operational issues, web design or digital marketing plans. You may need a sounding board, one that gives you honest, constructive and actionable feedback, not a Top 10 List of what to do.