In 2007, from a small building on top of a Chinese television factory, Boukje Koch started working on mirror lamps and waterproof razors. The “studio” was next to the elevator shaft. The walls had big cracks to the outdoor. With her pink cargo bike and almost all-girls team, she sourced model makers, responsible materials and manufacturers for Dutch buyers.
Since then A4M group has grown into an innovative company in product realization and purchasing. With Guangzhou office manager Nerissa Pan and Creative Director Mariet Schreurs a creative and technical team of buyers, engineers and designers was formed. Together we realize innovation and procurement for the Netherlands, Belgium, US, Australia and Kuwait, among others.
Since the beginning of 2020, Boukje and Mariet have joint forces in Rotterdam. The developments in the Netherlands provide a lot of inspiration for the correlation between Responsible Materials and Manufacturers. If you would like to join one of the five topics below, please contact us!
1. Responsible materials
Responsible materials. Fiber brown is the new matte white. There is a lot of demand for sustainable materials. We have suppliers for biobased PLA plastic, composites including coffee or bamboo fibers, biodegradable plastics from starch, biodegradable foam filling, preformed packaging made from paper pulp, etc. It is great to see that these materials have become affordable. The material properties are often slightly different from traditional materials, but we can work with that just fine.
2. Responsible Manufacturers
Responsible Manufacturers. The United Nations has drawn up seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Organizations are increasingly expected to play an important role in this. The ISO26000 is an International Guideline for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). ISO20400 is important for physical products. It is the guideline for Sustainable Procurement. There are so many young Dutch companies that are working on sustainability and transparent supply chains, we would like to work with them.
3. Reliable suppliers
Whether your supplier is located in China, Portugal or Geleen, it is important that you build a personal contact. You will have to run multiple projects or orders together to optimize your quality requirements, communication and expectations. Since 2007, we have been working on sustainable relationships with our suppliers in China and Holland. Over the years we have set up a working standard together: concerning product quality, transparent communication and reliable delivery times. We are happy to help Dutch buyers who are still looking for a team on the ground in China. Specially now it is hard to go yourself.
The Netherlands is number six in the Startup Ecosystem Global Map of Startupblink. Investors, government and events pay a lot of attention to startups in software and services, but little to hardware. We are happy to fill that gap with our WeHardware initiative. Thanks to our experience, we reduce the risk of investing in hardware and physical products. Where A4M group provides outsourcing and external partnerships. WeHardware is our CTO for hire trademark, where we become part of your team. With early input on your business plan, we coach companies about mold prices, unit price, development budgets and expected Return of Investment. But we also coach companies on how to deal with their Intellectual Property, Responsible Materials and Manufacturers. With our knowledge we relieve startups and e-commerce companies from the complexity of prototyping, production, certification, quality control, etc.
5. Made in Holland
Made in Holland and Support your locals is hot. Our team in Rotterdam shares our knowledge about product realization and supply chain with the Dutch manufacturing industry. If you develop a product yourself, it is nice if you can keep the assembly or an IP-sensitive part close to home. This has many advantages, especially for the first production series. We offer and advocate electronic development, working prototype and production options in the Netherlands. However, we do not believe that product purchasing from China will disappear completely, the speed, specific knowledge, price and innovations there will remain attractive, especially standard parts, or products and parts with a lot of manual processing. Ultimately, the choice of production country does not lie with us, but with our customers.