1-on-1 with Yogaground’s Ferdinand Berghuijs: the Yoga Rebel
We believe that innovative professionals are the pioneers of the changing world. That’s why every week Professional Rebel goes in-depth with one of our favorites. This week we spoke to Ferdinand Berghuijs, founder of Yogaground.
Yoga is for everyone as is following your dreams, according to Ferdinand Berghuijs, founder of Yogaground — the new yoga studio in Rotterdam that’s doing things a little differently. He spoke to Roald Tjon about testing, sharing and becoming an expert in rolling yoga mats.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
“I always loved coming up with new concepts and ideas,” says Ferdinand, which is why he studied interior design at the Willem de Kooning Academie and ran his own interior design company for five years.
“At one point though my work was less about designing and more about meeting people and getting stuff done with contractors and floorlayers.”
During this time Ferdinand also organized morning coffees — networking sessions at various location — and got more involved in networking organizations.
How did Yogaground come about?
Almost 10 years ago Ferdinand first tried out Bikram yoga (also known as hot yoga): “I got sort of addicted and at one point I was there every day. I later got involved with Ashtanga yoga and became a teacher in it myself.”
The idea to start his own yoga studio came up two years ago and with his partner Jorden he worked out the details during a weekend trip to Brussels: “Once we had the idea on paper we started telling people and bringing them together. Ultimately, I ended up with six people at my kitchen table over dinner and a bottle of wine. From a marketing expert, to a website builder, to a filmmaker, everyone we needed was there and we started putting a plan together.”
The team raised over €35,000 during a successful crowdfunding campaign last summer and the first Yogaground studio opened last month.
What is the idea behind Yogaground?
“Yogaground is the strange fish in the pond. We’re the studio that wants to do things a bit differently. When people think of yoga they think mainly of women in leggings and we want to show them that it can be athletic and a lot more than just sitting on a pillow and doing a few breathing exercises.’
“If I was completely yoga-minded I’d probably never have started this, because then I would only have done it for the yoga and moved to India without possessions. But that isn’t me. I want to make yoga rock and get people who wouldn’t normally try yoga to experience it as well.”
How did you test your idea to know it could be a success?
“We had quite a few tests built in along the way. One test was by giving lessons at the crossfit box I was training at called Crossfit Hofplein. Another was the crowdfunding campaign. As part of the campaign we gave public classes in unique locations like on top of a roof or on a train station. Every time we had 25 spots available and every time it was completely full.”
The Lesson: Build in little tests for your product.
You started your career in interior design, what would you consider your passion now?
“Interior design and making something original is really my passion. When I was in high school I either wanted to get into advertising or interior design. Both are creative and conceptual for which you execute an idea. That’s what this is as well. We created a brand that has to look good and we have to get people through the door who enjoy being here and being in this space.”
What do you know now that you wish you knew six months ago?
“I probably had an idea about this in the back of my mind, but as a business owner I’m constantly doing little things, from dishes, to cleaning showers, to pursuing my latest hobby, rolling up yoga mats.’
“Another thing is that at the opening a lot of people were here who were very proud of me as an entrepreneur. Six months ago I was wondering if it would work out and a bit unsure of myself. When you see all those people with gifts and flowers saying they knew it would happen and they had faith in you all along, you think, ‘Couldn’t you have told me that six months ago?’
Would you consider yourself a professional rebel?
“I would say no, but that’s because everyone can be a professional rebel as long as they do what they have to do. A lot of people stop for various reasons. These include money, family, personal things, but everyone has it in them. You just have to stay true to yourself and do it.”
The Lesson: Everyone can be a rebel.
Which people have influenced you most?
“Firstly there’s my partner Jorden, who’s been the rock solid foundation in this big adventure. Then there’s my father who’s very different from me. He never made the step to become an entrepreneur and in a way I want to make him proud. I want to show him that I can do it and he had it in him to do it as well.’
“A yoga studio is also a lot about details and creating something beautiful. Carlo Scarpa, an Italian architect, is someone who really focuses on every detail and he’s influenced me with the physical creation of Yogaground.”
What keeps you awake at night?
“I get asked a lot if I sleep well. Like when I signed the contract for this location, but I do because it’s just another natural step. The step before this was that we got the financing and the step before that was the success of the crowdfunding campaign. The fact that I now have to sign a contract for renovations with a big price tag is just a natural consequence.”
The Lesson: Don’t freak out, it’s just another step.
Any tips to other rebels out there?
“First of all, dig in and don’t give up. Secondly, share your story with everyone. Being an open book will get you the best advice. Live your story and share it. Whether that’s chatting about yoga with your neighbor or your banker, you never know what you’re going to learn. Lastly, work with others and make sure that your passion can be seen and heard.”
The Lesson: Share your story and passion.
Professional Rebel & Ferdinand: Last summer Ferdinand came by the Professional Rebel office for a Talk on Tuesday about his concept Yogaground. Needless to say, we we’re as excited then as we still are now. After we heard they set up shop in Rotterdam, we sent our Chief Reporter to catch some Broga and hear Ferdinand’s story.
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