“I am Antwan Rijkers, 36 years old and I live in Valkenswaard. Before that I worked in e-commerce for 10 years, of which only 2 years for a boss. After that I started working for myself pretty quickly. So actually I come from a different branch. I worked on returns for large e-commerce companies.”
Entrepreneurship was already in the works for FreeKickPro®. There are even new ideas on the shelf, “but I don’t have time for that right now,” he says with a smile.
Which brings us to Machiel, Antwan’s partner.
“I am Machiel, 42 years old and I’m from Waalre. I used to work in the world of sports sponsorships. This means: creating or guiding certain sponsorships and taking care of the activation of these partnerships. Think for example of the PSV-Freo deal and Vitesse-Truphone. I have done the same for a number of other sports.”
“I’ve always had affinity with sports”
How did you come up with the idea?
“I played football at PSV until I was 16 years old,” says Antwan. “And after that for a long time at top amateur clubs such as ‘De Valk’. Training free kicks was, and still is, very unprofessional at all levels. They still train with a dummy everywhere. I wanted to try and match the resistance that the players experience in the game on the training pitch. In addition, you can give the staff and players insight into the free kick training through relevant training data.”
He talks enthusiastically about his ideas. How he put everything on paper and mapped out which functionalities the device had to meet. This was soon followed by matters such as a patent application and the ball started rolling.
“I knew Machiel from the University of Tilburg. He had played indoor soccer at a high level for a long time. When I showed him the animations, he immediately was enthusiastic. Shall we start a cooperation? Invest together?”
When did you guys decide to really go for it?
“We only had the idea, not the knowledge,” says Antwan. “We talked to a number of parties who could make it. During those conversations, we found out how many metal companies there are just here in the region! At that time we already had a cooperation with a technical draughtsman who has a lot of knowledge of drives and constructions. We already knew that we wanted to control it with electronics. Via a company that is specialized in electronics, you end up with someone who knows a lot about batteries. You go on and on like that!”
“There have also been some wrong choices made, of course,” Machiel adds. “That’s part of the journey. It’s a unique product, no one has ever made this before. It’s part of the development, we now know.”
How are the developments going now?
“We are currently in the phase where clubs can start training with FreeKickPro at the start of the new season.”
How did the cooperation with Multifix come about?
Antwan tells us how he came in contact with Hein Rommers (sales representative at Multifix) through Jurgen Hendriks (former employee and ex-soccer player of FC Eindhoven) with whom he was playing soccer at that time. “We wanted to develop something and have it mass produced, but who is going to assemble it and test if everything works properly? Who is responsible for the purchasing? We are a two-man company and don’t want to have to deal with that. We would rather deal with the commercial side.
Machiel adds, “Later on we also came into contact Arthur Burgmans (CEO of Multifix) and Arno Heesters (CCO). They showed us what they do at the Multifix Group. It quickly became clear to us that purchasing & assembly is a profession in itself. All in all, we quickly had a very good feeling about Multifix.”
Antwan nods, “the overall picture made us decide to go for Multifix. Arthur and Arno really have 100% faith in the product. You can tell that from everything! The cooperation goes much further than just the assembly and the purchasing. We can also spar as partners. That is very nice! The contact has been pleasant from the start. Uncomplicated and clear! We wanted to keep it in the neighborhood. If anything happens, we can get there quickly and switch easily.”
Want to know more about FreeKickPro and Multifix’ contribution? You can read it in this blog.