Company culture fuels growth of Story of AMS going from 0 to 2M in revenue within 3 years


A book about Mars is standing in his bedroom. Coen van Hees, Founder, and CEO digital production company, Story of AMS. The book was a present received at a young age, after which it has become a symbol of boundless possibilities within entrepreneurship.

“I’m genuinely convinced that the day will come where humans can travel to this planet which for me is a statement that truly anything is possible.” The company is only three years old but with expected revenue of 2 million, the future looks promising.

“We distinguish ourselves as from day one we have been focused on our company culture. This allowed us to attract some of the most talented people in the digital landscape, with whom we can now compete with some of the biggest companies in the Netherlands. Calling on feedback from clients I can say that they choose Story of AMS because we are young and deliver results fast.”

Story of AMS born out of curiosity

Van Hees continues to explain that his passion for entrepreneurship began after an internship in America. “Before I started my studies at Brighton Business School, I was interning at a Fortune 500 company where I was put in charge of a team of 60 people. What the hell! I was completely thrown into the deep at only 19 years old. Nevertheless, I managed to stay afloat and really got to learn how to think big. If I could pull this off, what else could be possible for me?”

Van Hees: ‘Story of AMS started without any experience’

That question led to starting his own company upon returning to the Netherlands. Together with his childhood friend Doeke Leeuwis, they started to build small, simple websites. At the start, this was simply for family and friends, and at a later stage, for big corporations. “We grew step by step until, around 2 years ago, we received a project which could earn us 22.000 euro. It involved building a totally new platform from scratch. While we had zero experience building something on that scale, we managed to pull it off and delivered something the client was very happy with.”

Large client diversity helps Story of AMS attract talented people

From that moment on, Story of AMS finds itself in an upward slope that hasn’t slowed down since. “A client like Intersport comes to us with a new product and we take care of the whole digital product cycle. We build the new website or improve on the existing one, create an app and produce the animations. Futureproof and delivered rapidly. This is the reason why we chose digital production. Many corporates have in-house manpower for concepting and strategy but lack the talent to execute on those concepts and strategies. The main reason being that these talents don’t want to work on one single project for a considerable amount of time. Due to a broad range of clients, we are able to offer a lot of diversity in projects which makes us an attractive employer. Meanwhile, the need for digital solutions is increasing more and more.

Investing in company culture inspired by Google

Anyone who walks through the door at Story of AMS feels he or she has entered an accomplished company. If it weren’t for the beautiful location at the Amsterdam canals, it would be for the vibe and the people that work there. “As I said before, we care a lot about our company culture. We even have a Head Of People. Among other things, he makes sure there is a healthy lunch for everyone, dinner is arranged for those working till late, and every month we do something fun with the team. We’ve taken Google as an example of creating this sense of community. It is one of the pillars of Story of AMS because we see too many companies where the people are simply not happy. I dare to say that this isn’t the case with our 25 employees at Story of AMS.”

Podcast as a powerful tool for personal brand of Van Hees

What immediately befalls the eye in the office space, is a small recording studio in the back of the building. “This is where we record podcasts in which I talk to people who excel in their craft. What are their challenges? How did they manage to accomplish their goals? Or what kept them from accomplishing their goals. It has also proven to be a great way of building relationships and I get a lot of energy from sharing thoughts and ideas with these people. Besides that, a podcast is also a very strong tool to build my personal brand.”

The reason as to why he’s putting energy and time into this already? Absolute freedom. “We have the podcast but are also very active on other social media channels. We write blogs, post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Dribbble and record our story on Youtube through a vlog. That last thing we do because we believe documenting is the most powerful branding there is. People follow our journey. We are top of mind in Amsterdam. Imagine that within 5 years we will have 50.000 loyal followers on YouTube, which will enable us to go around the world and speak at well-known events. Then I will be Coen van Hees, that guy from Story of AMS. Inspiring people. Something I’m already doing at several universities in Amsterdam.”

Story of AMS crossing borders, revenue in 2020 to 10 million

Story of AMS is growing fast. While in the first year of operations the company relied a lot on freelancers, one year later there are around 10 people on the payroll and revenue of half a million euro is a reality. This year Van Hees expects 2 million in earnings while going completely through the roof in 2020 with projected earnings of 10 million. “By then we will grow to 10 million euro because we are going to open locations in Berlin and Los Angeles.”

Van Hees: ‘Hiring new people to fuel further growth’

“Business is booming so we have to put our foot on the gas. Luckily we do not shy away from that. Personally, I’m pouring 80 hours a week into this company. And I do that with love. When I’m not putting in the work, I get uncomfortable. Of course, there were times where I’ve slacked a bit. We had projects lined up for three months in advance, and I thought I could let the throttle slip a little bit. A good learning moment for me because if you go sit on the couch every evening nothing is going to happen. It might sound crazy, but from the moment I’m in my comfort zone I become uneasy. Then I want to hire more people to also put more pressure on growing the business. Pushing things to the limit, that’s what we set out to do.”

Yoga-disruptor next to Story of AMS

Looking at the international expansion it seems he is pulling it off. Van Hees, next to Berlin and Los Angeles, has more plans for expansion across borders. In New York to be precise. “Meanwhile Story of AMS is a financially healthy company. However, we still want to spread our wings further and that is going to happen through a separate company with the name: Blossom. A disruptor in the Yoga industry. If you want to open a yoga studio, we can provide you with the required software to run your business. A total package deal and that’s really with one push of a button. For 150 euro a month you have a complete back-office and online integration for your website and app. You can literally win the world with this. Soon we will start with a pilot in the Netherlands so we can be up and running in America by the end of 2019.”

“Our ultimate goal? Keep building great things that positively impact how people run their companies. Story of AMS is set out to become the greatest production company in the world with clients like Google and Facebook. It will happen one day. Just like one day, we will be able to fly to Mars. Ultimately, nothing is impossible. I really believe that. As long as you are willing to take risks, work hard and dare to dream.”

The team of Story of AMS is active on every thinkable social media channel. Watch the video below that they made for Youtube.