Derek Beeftink & Martin Dyer

From BCG to breathwork: Derek and Martin about building their dream.

From BCG to breathwork: Derek and Martin about building their dream.
Derek Beeftink & Martin Dyer

Derek Beeftink & Martin Dyer

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Derek and Martin met at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where they connected over a shared passion for exploring the spiritual world - a somewhat unique interest within strategy consulting. They developed a close friendship and, following their own solo trips through Asia and Africa, reconnected in South Africa to build an AfrikaBurn artwork which was home to yoga, meditation, and ceremony. Following a return to Amsterdam, they both joined Sweav and started building their dream, Stretch & Fold: a space which celebrates wellbeing through yoga, food and community.  

Joeri Schouten (co-founder of Sweav) was invited by Derek and Martin for a sneak peek of Stretch & Fold in Amsterdam Noord. After the tour, they had a coffee and talked about ambitions, entrepreneurship and consultancy. Enjoy the read. 

Joeri: What a cool project and location! How did you get involved in Stretch & Fold? 

Martin: Well, we both wanted more freedom and purpose in life. Our corporate jobs weren’t really scratching that itch. So, after setting out on our transformational journeys in Asia and Africa, we joined Sweav as independent professionals. This way we could work on challenging strategy projects, gain financial freedom, and build our dream in parallel. 

Derek: AfrikaBurn proved we wanted to create a space for people to come and be themselves, to move, have fun and unwind. While talking and playing with this idea, a concept started to form more clearly. When Tash Richards, our third co-founder, shared her vision, we realized it was a great match. Together we set everything in motion to create a yoga studio, seasonal cafe, and spa with a rooftop pool. Here we will host a community and provide space for movement, nourishing food and spiritual growth.

Joeri: What are the boundary conditions to take on such a big project? 

Derek: Through our shared adventures and our "test run" at AfricaBurn, we have built a strong relationship with unconditional mutual trust. This turned out to be the bedrock of all that we are growing at this moment.

Martin: Tash is a talented yoga teacher and quite the opposite of a consultant. She found this location and dreams big. We both trust her deeply and our solid team foundation definitely plays a big role in building together on a ‘blank canvas’. Our strong bond allows us to be bold. We all have different ways of doing things, but when we have a different opinion, there is still a lot of stability and progress. 

Derek: I couldn’t have done this 5 years ago. Today, I have the practical and material things in order. Also, I gained a healthy dose of guts over the years. Having a tendency to go against the stream is also helpful in executing such a big project. Things definitely don't always go right the first time, but I welcome that challenge and take the lessons with me.

Joeri: Did you have to unlearn consultancy skills in setting up Stretch & Fold?

Martin: In the process of setting up a company, you want to be fast and implementation oriented. We do this by simply rolling up our sleeves and testing things quickly. It feels like we’ve let go of always looking for the perfect, theoretical answer. 

Derek: A consulting skill that I find super useful in this process is that you think two steps ahead which makes us more strategic and prepared. However, we can’t foresee everything and sometimes there is just too much to do. So, I avoid the overthinking part that can sometimes plague consulting projects and slow down progress. We let the values of our company serve as our guiding priorities. Then, we make a plan and go off running in our own lanes. 

Joeri: How did freelancing help you to get here?

Martin: A lot! After BCG I took 16 months off, also known as my “16-month weekend”. My creative side was longing for time and space, and I did a lot of poetry and photography. The thought of returning to corporate life didn't appeal to me, andt became crystal clear that I want to be in control of my time. Freelancing invited me to be an entrepreneur and offered a refreshing level of freedom. Without a full BCG team behind me, I also learnt new ways of relying on myself and grew in confidence. 

Derek: The big difference between employment and freelancing is that I am setting the agreements with my client, instead of a partner or manager I am working for. This gives me more freedom in setting things up how they work for me, so that’s cool.

Martin: Indeed, freelancing lets me set my own schedule. Last Wednesday, I started with my project at Uber, went kitesurfing, had lunch with a friend and then worked on Stretch & Fold. 

Joeri: What was it like, working together on your freelance project at Uber Eats?

Derek: We really became part of the team and together, we are working on a cool project with impact on the wider business, which is very fulfilling. The people at Uber are smart and fun to work with. 

Martin: Uber is the best client that I’ve worked with. The culture is great, the standards of talent are high, and the work environment is supportive of your personal life. Even though Uber is a corporate, this client is a good match for freelancers.

Derek: I think the benefit in hiring independent strategy professionals over a traditional consultancy firm is that there is less overhead and more ownership at the client. The hierarchy in a consultancy team brings expertise, but also takes away client leadership. Also, with a freelancer, you bring in the external expertise directly into your internal organization and it’s easier to maintain control.

Joeri: Any advice for people who want to get out of consulting and start building their dream? 

Derek: Take yourself out of the system that is forming your day-to-day life. Take a leave (or leave your job) and be with yourself for a substantial amount of time. Be it a 6-week sabbatical at home during the pandemic, or a 6-month journey riding through the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, these breaks have been invaluable for me to feel and decide what's next.

Martin: Don’t be afraid! If you already find yourself in the privileged position of having some sort of safety net in place, just go out there and become friends with the unknown. Time is limited and we are our own biggest obstacles. 

Derek: All the skills and financial rewards from employment or freelancing are great, and I wouldn't have been where I am now without them. But finding your own intrinsic motivation and aligning these with the world around you is what fuels dreams. Stretch & Fold is the latest and truest expression of these dreams until now.

About the author

Derek Beeftink and Martin Dyer are ex BCG consultants. Currently, they are members of Sweav and involved in a project at Uber Eats. Next to this, they are building Stretch & Fold, a community space in Amsterdam Noord featuring a yoga studio, seasonal cafe, and spa with rooftop pool. They believe in the power of community, in nourishing our bodies and souls so we can show up as our boldest and most creative selves.

Derek Beeftink & Martin Dyer

Derek Beeftink & Martin Dyer

From BCG to breathwork: Derek and Martin build their dream.

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