I've had a few personal messages through various platforms asking me if I was doing alright, and unfortunately, I was not.
Global Pandemic and bills
When COVID-19 hit the world, initially it didn't matter that much to XP Bytes, Delft Solutions and Sounders Music. XP Bytes and Delft Solutions are software agencies (which I founded), and these didn't get into trouble, until our clients did. Sounders Music had funding to make it through the year, and was therefore also not affected.
However, this quickly changed as COVID-19 hit Europe and the United States, as some of our clients failed to make their payments, or even had to shut down completely. This has led to
react-static development grinding to a halt, as well as everyone having to take pay cuts. Not only did we lose 80% of our stable, recurring, monthly income overnight, moving to remote-first work ethic proved more difficult than we had foreseen, as we'd had been actively investing in creating office culture for the past year.
I reached out to my contacts, former and current clients, friends, and family, in order to get us some temporary work, and this proved difficult. Not only were people scared, people were also dying. Family members on the ICU, Black Lives Matter protests going strong, all whilst we were losing cash, fast.
But when everything seemed like we wouldn't survive the season, we struck a deal with a great agency and community.
Beatfreeks is an engagement and insight agency with a vital community of young creatives. They connect the young creatives to brands, government and funders so they can influence how the world works.
We built their community platform, which allowed us to bridge the gap between the start of the pandemic and IntroCloud.
As COVID-19 numbers in the Netherlands worsened, we were in contact with various universities in The Netherlands. It is common for Dutch Universities to have an introduction programme, right before the start of the year, to welcome new students to the city, and have them explore, experience and enjoy all it has to offer. Normally these programmes are offline, in real life gatherings of 1500-5000 students, something that was not going to happen this year.
Together with one of our tech partners, Tactile, we built a platform in a few months called IntroCloud, made the radio and newspaper and in the end serviced thousands of students with an interactive online programme, including live streams, matching, goals and chat, from the following universities and universities of applied sciences ("Hogeschool"):
- EL-CID (Enige Leidse Commissie Introductie Dagen), HOPWeek (The Hague Orientation Programme) and OWL (Orientationweek), with students from the University of Leiden and Hogeschool Leiden
- Intreeweek, with students from the University of Amsterdam
- KEI-Week (Kommissie Eerstejaars Introductie), with students from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Hanzehogeschool Groningen, Acadamy of Midwifery Groningen and NHL Stenden Hogeschool
- Kick-In, with students from the University of Twente
- OWee (Ontvangst Week) and IP (Introduction Programme), with students from Delft, University of Technology
- RU Intro (Raboud University Introduction), with students from Raboud University
- TOP (Tilburg Orientation Program) and PI (Programma Introductie), with students from Tilburg University, Fontys Hogeschool and Avans Hogeschool
This was an immensely busy period for us, but it worked out well. All the weeks were a great success, and we look back at this without a heavy heart.
If you're looking to host an online event, need a tri-platform app (Android, iOS and Web), and would like to talk or a demo, shout out via Tactile at
email@example.com. They take care of sales and onboarding, and are lovely people to talk to.
We have some cash injected, which is great. We sign a few new- and old clients, and our cashflow is recurring and more stable again. Yay!.
And then I get infected with COVID-19.
After two weeks of a 39 C / 102 F fever, barely being able to eat, constant muscle and joint pain, and being otherwise in complete agony, I develop bronchitis with symptoms of starting pneumonia in one of my lungs. My boyfriend, who started feeling better after the second week, takes me to the hospital to measure the oxygen blood saturation, which is at 97%. The current rule in the Netherlands is that a value of 90% or lower means you can't leave the hospital and need to be intubated.
It takes another week and taking antibiotics for the fever to break, and the bronchitis to be reduced to a light cough. Water no longer tastes like metal, and I eat again. Under these circumstances, I'm doing great, and a bit better every day.
I'm still extremely exhausted, and suffering from post-viral syndrome, which is very common for COVID-19 patients. XP Bytes and Delft Solutions are doing great. We'll be fine for the next year, even if everyone gets COVID-19. Sounders Music is progressing again and we're building great things.
I don't think COVID-19 is going anywhere anytime soon, but neither am I. I hope I can see my parents soon, because I haven't been able to hug them for the past six months. And I definitely hope that you, reader, are spared from being infected or being symptomatic.
Oh, and I guess I'll try to write again...