Interviewing Martin Zwart

Rebellious, committed and a warm personality: if you know Martin a little, these are the words you will immediately think of. He is an enthusiastic person with a passion for innovation and technology. With his business connections, he always seeks personal connection. Often done by sharing his even greater passion: music.

“Transferring technology, innovation and knowledge is what moves me”

In everything Martin does, connecting is central. He does it with his team, with his customers and of course with Airoc itself. With his impressive 40+ years of experience, Martin knows exactly what he’s talking about. He has worked in various sectors but has always been involved in technology. “That’s what moves me,” he says. “And not only technology, but also innovation and knowledge transfer between people. That’s important in everything I do.”

Customer-oriented thinking has always been naturally for Martin. As a result, he was always ahead of the music. He was the first Microsoft partner in the Netherlands, founded his first start-up on Highway 101 in San Francisco and even personally met Steve Balmer. The demand to share his expertise at lectures and seminars grew. He gave seminars throughout Europe and the United States. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he travelled to Eastern Europe to bring PhD professors, who actually wanted to go to Silicon Valley, to Egmond aan Zee. He did product development for the biggest names in the oil and gas industry and the financial world such as NAM, Gasterra, Rabobank, ABN, ING, Willis and Achmea. For twenty years he was a leader in the field of workflow management, object orientation, rapid application development and neural networks (machine learning). Topics that most companies encounter these days.

“That drives me”

In the new millennium, Martin continued his work with even more focus on technological development within companies with a unique focus. Martin: “I always look for two things that have nothing to do with each other. How can I unite them? There is a lot of value in that for me. That drives me. “

Martin’s passion for startups also started early. He has been a pioneer in this field since the late 80’s. What makes him so special in everything is his interest in people and from that sincerity, ideas arise. He has an unprecedented drive to encourage others to achieve their goals. Airoc was also born from this drive.

“I’m proud of that”

You can safely say that in Airoc everything comes together. Martin’s passion, his years of experience and his accumulated knowledge. Because of his special approach, he has also built up a large network of people from all over the world who share his values and vision. Already back in 2016 he opted for working completely virtual in the cloud – using technology from Silicon Valley. Airoc employs people from all over the world, completely independent of place and time. Martin: “You can’t find the best developers around the corner anymore. That’s why I search on LinkedIn, among other sources, in search of the best people. No matter where they come from.”

He also travels all over the country with Elise to share Airoc’s mission. There, too, he recognizes the value of building a good network. “We often meet people who used to work for me. They all know me, I think that’s very special,” says Martin with a smile. “It’s great to see how they’ve developed in their fields and I’m very proud of that.”

“Specialized on the content”

It was exactly that network that pointed out to him the development opportunities within MBO education. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences submitted an application for a study into bottlenecks within HBO education. From Martin’s workflow management background, he quickly saw that it was precisely the MBO where there was a lot of room for improvement. Martin: “The primary process in education is not managed. The educational focus is central and not the demand from the business community,” he says. “While this is both equally as important in MBO.”

While others were discussing plans to tackle education by 2030, Martin has simply begun to innovate. With the first step: getting rid of paper use in education. Based on market research, he started pioneering to get the question on the agenda, to motivate and activate students and ultimately give teachers insight into the development of the students.

“It’s actually very simple”

An already existing prototype of the now well-known Airoc App was worked on and tinkered with until a product was created that is unique in its kind. Martin knows better than anyone the value of gathering the right people around you and so the app has been created together with the best experts in the field of coaching, communication and technology.

“It’s actually very simple,” says Martin. “Easy questions that the student, the business community and the teacher understand plus a weekly coaching module with low-threshold feedback. Think of: what did the student do this week, how did your assignments go, how did you think the week went.” With Airoc, companies serve the students via a single operating concept, the school can innovate in a structured way and they have real-time multimedia insight into what happens on internships.

“We are creative and independent”

That’s how the ball started rolling. From one programme to a whole school year and from one school to clusters of schools. “We are creative and independent,” Martin explains. That is exactly why this approach is so different. “We really look at what is needed from the people’s point of view. We are also always open to feedback. One call and we’ll sit around the table with you. We like that our customers think along with us and appreciate that.’

The development side of things continues in all kinds of ways, because Airoc is no longer just a well-known name within education. With big names such as Youngcapital, more and more companies are also embarking on the adventure.

“I want to infect people with the Airoc virus”

There is nothing but praise about the app, but especially Martin knows how to get the right people on board with his sincerity. “I prefer to tell stories,” he explains. “I want to get people on board and infect them with the Airoc virus.” The collaboration with the young, driven Elise is also special. But perhaps it is exactly this collaboration that characterizes Airoc so well. A company in which experience and knowledge go hand in hand with talent and vision.

Martin’s ambitions for Airoc are clear. “We first expand in the Netherlands and then cross the border,” he says enthusiastically. “We are growing fast, and we will keep on growing.”