Growth Tribe: First Growth Hacking Academy

How Growth Tribe turned a former UN conference facility into a thriving growth hub

The Growth Tribe Academy is nestled on the Kattenburg island in Amsterdam. The site known as ‘Marineterrein’ has been used by the Dutch navy since 1655 and is now becoming a development and innovation hub. We spoke with Job Rietbergen, Growth Marketer, Coach and Frontend Developer, to chat about Growth Tribe’s unique space, how they teach growth hacking skills, and their exciting expansion to the UK!

Lean Desk top detail

Opendesk: Tell us more about you, GT and your big idea!

Job Rietbergen: I joined Growth Tribe a year ago, working in different startups doing online marketing and programming. Over the two years before that I was running my own agency and building webshops and apps for clients. I then met the guys from Growth Tribe which is Europe’s first Growth Hacking Academy based on courses ranging from two days to three months. I believed there was a big gap between the market needs and what is being taught at university, mainly with the prevalence of a multitude of new tools. They were moving fast, had very cool people involved and seemed to be a new kind of company. This new approach of building and growing product just seduced me!

Growth Tribe’s workplace area
Focus on a Lean Desk at Growth Tribe’s workplace
Plant dividers being use in the office

Opendesk: For those who don’t know, what’s growth hacking?

Job Rietbergen: Growth Hacking is basically a small data driven team trying to scale a company. These teams are taking an experimental approach to marketing and building product. The main focus is growing by obsessively focussing on optimising the one main metric that matters at a particular moment.

These teams need to work as fast as possible with this main goal in mind by using a huge range of tools and skills to learn (such as UX or programming). We’re also aware there might be an aversion against the word hacking but we’re talking in this case about finding quick ways to get things done and bridging the gap between the Marketing department and Product Department.

The classroom at Growth Tribe

Opendesk: Tell us more about your team?

Job Rietbergen: We’re growing quite fast at the moment, especially over the last six months: we’ve gone from four or five people a year ago to 16 now. We have three founders with the classic hacker, hipster, hustler background. They started doing growth consulting with Growth Tribe, but shifted the business when they realised that consulting is just a short term solution and that when the job is done, the skills leave with you. It is much more efficient and sustainable to actually teach those skills in the first place. They then decided to set up the first academy teaching these growth skills, backed by Facebook, Startup Amsterdam and VCs from Amsterdam.

Within our team we also have a various number of skills ranging from growth hacking trainers, coaches, data analysts, graphic designers, developers, a content team (social media, content manager and a video manager) and even an office manager making sure our workplace always looks good.

Team members flying a drone outside the office
Chatting in the workplace area at Growth Tribe
Two team members working in the kitchen area

Opendesk: What makes your company different ?

Job Rietbergen: When we do our training courses, people mention that they love the pace. We like being practical, we give people theory and use cases, but then we dive into some hands-on exercises and execution. We trained 1400+ people in the last year ranging from startup to scale-up and corporate. With all these use cases we were able to make an adapted course based on peoples’ needs. We teach 35+ tools in just two days so people are sure to leave with experiments ready to execute.

On the phone around the Lean Desk
A team member working in the kitchen area
Making salad in the kitchen area of the workspace

Opendesk: How did you come across Opendesk?

Job Rietbergen: We have some amazing neighbours in our building and Opendesk was referred by someone downstairs at Makerversity Amsterdam. We also had an interior architect (Parvinder Marwaha) that helped us through the process within the same time.

Job and a colleague working around a Lean Desk in the work area

Opendesk: How has Opendesk furniture been used at GW?

Job Rietbergen: We now have a lot of Lean Desks and one of them is used in our main meeting space.
We’re also planning to use one of them as a reception desk for our Office Manager at the entrance of the office. We also realised that we will need some Pedestals to store and move around all our workshops materials - we use a lot of post-its and markers.

It’s interesting to see that after a first basic phase it’s now time for us to shift to some more granular furniture, with a need for pieces like the planter holder, small movable chairs and storage units.

Testing VR in the offices
A plywood pod for quiet work session
A member of the team working on a Lean Desk and using a plywood stand

Opendesk: Can you tell us a bit more about your space and how you’re using it?

Job Rietbergen: We’re having growth hacking classes in our campus on the same floor. It’s important for us to have a glass wall that separate classroom from the rest of our open space where the magic happens. We also have a nice open kitchen where we do standing lunch with the whole team, make nice salads and sandwiches.

We also recently increased our open space area as we’re growing. We didn’t realise at first we would grow that fast! Currently we’re talking to IoT companies about adding sensors to our building and using the data to optimise our campus.

The kitchen/lunch area at Growth Tribe
Detail of coffee table and rug
Great lighting bulbs in use in the office

Opendesk: Your building look so interesting, what’s the story? Who are your neighbours?

Job Rietbergen: We love it! It’s located on the former marine base and actually it’s still blurred on Google Maps (top secret!). The marines are moving out and being replaced by innovative companies - it’s truly becoming an innovation hub. Hopefully there will be a place to swim in summer and we have a lovely view on Amsterdam as the city center is actually really close.

The building itself used to be a school for marine technicians and more recently was supposed to be used for a UN conference, so the wooden partition of the facade represent all the flags of the european union.

The singular building hosting Growth Tribe and Makerversity in Amsterdam

Opendesk: What are the next steps for you guys?

Job Rietbergen: In Amsterdam things are going really well and we are proud to count more and more happy participants. We saw a big market in London and had quite a few request to come over there. After launching some events and meetups, we now launched our monthly 2-Day Growth Marketing Course. The next one (4th-5th May) will be hosted at the lovely Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, London.

Besides our monthly conference, we also teamed up with Silicon Valley’s Growth Marketing Conference to host the first UK Growth Marketing Conference on May 9. Here we invite international growth speakers to talk about their use cases and the struggles they face when growing their company.

The ideal next steps will be to open an office in London if everything goes well. Fingers crossed!

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