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Featured on Jun 08, 2011

Willem Bult

"No guts, no glory"


I write code and travel the world. I’ve lived in Europe, SE-Asia, SF and now NY. My background is in software engineering and I've been writing code since I was 12. At age 15, I was selling my first “real” application. While pursuing my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees I started three high tech companies. Software I created has taught children in the slums of Delhi how to speak English and a company I founded in customizable card games lets people share and relive precious memories with friends and family. Right now I'm co-founding a startup called Bloomsie where I'm focused on building products that help you stay in touch with the people you care about. I also recently released; a website that reminds you of important things in an interruptive way.

  • Title: Co-Founder, Bloomsie
  • Age: 25
  • Location: SoHo
  • Contact: @willembult

You’ve lived in and travelled all over the world. What brings you to New York City?

I arrived in the States a year ago to start a company in the Silicon Valley. It was one of those "no guts, no glory" decisions. Unfortunately, that startup did not work out for me, but I did meet my current co-founder Mariya in SF while she was attending conferences. After I'd left my startup we decided to pursue another idea. Because Mariya lived in NY and I was just "visiting" from abroad, it made more sense for me to make the move. In the Bay Area the general belief is
that it's the one and only place in the world to start a tech company, so I was a little worried about leaving that environment. But I've been very pleasantly surprised with the startup scene in NY. A lot of great things are being built here, and the diversity of the city makes for a great environment not only just to live, but also to start businesses.

On your LinkedIn profile you state, “...I've been writing code since I was 12. At age 15, I was selling my first “real” application...” What got you into coding at a young age, and what was this “first ‘real’ application”?

There were these guys at high school who were into QuickBasic. They decided to start teaching it to first graders, which is how I got started writing code. Two years later I was in their shoes teaching a QBasic course to first graders with a buddy of mine. When I had saved up to get a computer powerful enough to run it, I switched to Visual Basic 6. If only I had known about C, that might have saved me some time, haha.

Ah yes, my first "real" application. It was a clock that counted down to the shift of the millennium. I sold that thing to friends and family who were pleased with the fireworks it showed on their screen. My first happy customers. Two years later I wrote this indoor navigation tool for our school building. That's when things started getting really fun.

You started three tech companies while still enrolled in university. How did you pull that off? What were some of the most innovative technologies you built during your school years?

I started my first company, a software consultancy firm, while I was a freshman in college. Despite the workload, I managed to get my Bachelor's degree in 3,5 years by being efficient in scheduling classes. Three years ago, I teamed up with two fellow students with an awesome idea and we built a company called Yoowls. We let you design card personalized card games with your own photos online, and have them printed and shipped to you. We were the first to fully automate the process and make the business model work for single piece orders. I designed and developed that technology in just 50 days.

Another innovative technology I'm proud of creating is in the education space. While working at ChildTuition, a Dutch charitable trust, I designed and developed a framework for educational software that is used to teach without requiring the supervision of a teacher. That software is now being used in tribal villages in India and in the slums of Delhi, environments where the availability of education is marginal, to teach children how to speak English and give them a better chance in society.

On your Quora account, you follow several topics which pertain to time management while running a start-up. Do you find it difficult to maintain a balance between play and work? Do you have any suggestions for those that do?

Ha, yes, I'm in the office ALL the time. I mainly follow those topics because I'm curious about how other founders divide their time. The thing is that I really like what I do, so even when it's 80 degrees and sunny outside, I'm drawn to my computer to write code. It's probably not the most fun way you can spend your time in NYC, but hey, we get stuff done!

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