Thomas Meow Interview
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Transforming luxury hotels into an international network of flexible workspaces

D/DOCK has launched tech start-up MEOW this summer

MEOW is an app that enables professionals to book the most extraordinary hotels as their unique place to work. In this interview with Thomas van Leeuwen and Cris Bartels, they explain why D/DOCK launches this application.

D/DOCK is a design studio. Launching a tech startup like MEOW is what people call ‘thinking out of the box’. What triggered you to think out of the D/DOCK box?

Thomas: For me it’s actually not so much out of the box. It fits the D/DOCK mentality – which is about the use of space. Design is only a tool. MEOW is still within that frame.

Cris: If there would have been such a thing as the D/DOCK box, I am convinced there would be as much on top, leaning against and underneath the box as there is inside. Apart from that, you are right that we are not an app design studio. We design places where people want to be. Places are a platform for connections. In the physical space, but why not the digital space? Apps allow us to connect people and places. So we are not an app design studio, but thinking about apps feels like a very natural step to me.

Setting up a tech-platform, with all the technicalities and sales-challenges, describe what kept you going?

Thomas: The idea that this could become an example – how to make better use of what is already there.

Cris: Thomas and I definitely have the same optimistic can-do attitude. I enjoy working with him. It’s inspiring to see him thrive outside his comfort zone. Sometimes I wonder if he actually has a discomfort zone.

What is your personal intrinsic drive to make it happen?

Thomas: To show that you just gotta act. Talk less, do more.

Cris: Before graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven, I graduated in Information and Communications Technology. This might seem like an uncommon path, but working on MEOW has been a natural progression of all my experiences.

You started this platform before Covid-19 hit us. What changed in the process of the platform-developing during the crisis?

Thomas: Hotels started to open up much more and welcomed the initiative. That is the primary change.

Cris: Living in the city center myself, I am proud that we created a platform that reconnects all these extraordinary hotels with the local community of Amsterdam. The crisis really made hotels rethink their role in the city and I honestly believe in a movement that goes beyond our platform.

Where will MEOW be in a year from now?

Thomas: A group of people that all like to spend their working days out of the ordinary, truly and finally redefining the way we work: when, where and how.

Cris: Apart from expanding our network geographically and broadening our platform beyond the scope of coworking, I see massive potential in engaging our community even further. Frankly, I believe that a community without any shared engagement is nothing more than a mailing list.

What’s the best criticism you’ve received so far?

Thomas: a MEOW-member who said “I really like the easygoing vibe everywhere; both around the MEOW crew and the participating hotels”

Cris: We have been told more than a couple of times, that we are remarkably cheeky and straight forward because we clearly believe in what we are building and are confident that now is the moment!

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