If you ever needed evidence that mums always know best, Dr. Blend’s story is it. In 2010, Jamahl Schoonhoven had just quit his job at a global IT wholesaler to go it alone in business. Excited but apprehensive about starting his own firm, he eased his stresses with the thought that he would continue in an industry he knew inside and out: computing. And then he called his mum.
“She told me that I was doing it all wrong,” Schoonhoven says with a bemused smile as he sits down with us in Dr. Blend’s cosy central Amsterdam office. “She was right.” Instead, Schoonhoven’s mum – a retired teacher – insisted that he think about selling products that improve people’s health. And so, the idea for Dr. Blend was born.
Never one to do things by halves, Schoonhoven spent the next few months travelling the world, meeting suppliers and working out his business plan. Soon after, he launched My Green Coffee, which sold fat-busting green coffee beans and other health products. “The company was successful really quickly,” he says, “but after a few years the health sector exploded and competition was fierce, so we weren’t making money. I learned some valuable lessons from that though.”
As someone who had always been interested in making a positive difference to people’s lives, Schoonhoven wasn’t finished in the health sector. Instead he changed tack, launching his own store on Herenstraat in Amsterdam city centre. Its name? Dr. Blend.
Within weeks, the shop had become a central hub where the Amsterdam community could meet and share a smoothie, wrap, and some friendly chat with each other and the always-welcoming staff. “They were some of my happiest times,” Schoonhoven explains, “the store opened at 7.30 in the morning and would be busy throughout the day. It was a lot of work, but amazing to see happy faces passing by all day.”
In footfall and reputation, Dr. Blend was a resounding success. Schoonhoven even launched a second store, spurred on by his growing (happy) customer base. But, because of high rents that meant his margins were always marginal, he wasn’t making money. Ever the entrepreneur, he went back to the drawing board and sketched out a new direction: ecommerce.
How Dr. Blend refreshed the business by moving online
Armed with an array of products market-tested on the people that visited his premises over several years, Schoonhoven closed his stores and moved Dr. Blend online in 2018. Now, with contacts throughout the industry, loyal customers, and a savvy business sense, he has a multi-million-euro company. The firm now operates across Europe, sending out detox boxes, healthy shots, and juices – all cold-pressed and packaged using high pressure processing to retain flavour and extend their use life.
So, what’s the secret behind Dr. Blend’s success? “Quality, for one,” says Schoonhoven. “We have never made any concessions on the quality of our product, always having the best and freshest ingredients. And the way we cold-press and package ensures our products have a long shelf life.”
Another not so secret factor behind the brand’s success is obvious from the moment that Schoonhoven bounds to the door and warmly welcomes us into his office – relationships matter. In fact, Dr. Blend is known for above-and-beyond customer service, dealing with customer queries quickly and – as importantly – in a friendly manner. “The feedback we get from our customers is what makes it all worth it for me,” he says. “When someone tells us that they have had a great experience, I couldn’t feel more proud. I couldn’t do that without my colleagues; they’re a unique selling point that helps deliver an exceptional experience to our customers.”
The fact that Schoonhoven – the boss – calls his employees ‘colleagues’ tells you everything you need to know about the respect he pays to others. And it’s Dr. Blend’s personable nature that has also nurtured another success driver: its partnerships. In fact, it was a conversation between friends that first brought the brand to Mollie.
Using payments with Mollie to grow
“I knew (Mollie founder) Adriaan Mol when I was young as we lived in the same area,” Schoonhoven explains. “So when I was moving the business online he happily met up with me to offer advice about launching our digital store. That advice saved me tens of thousands of Euros and helped the business thrive. From then on, we had a personal connection with Mollie – they were our first choice when we were looking for a payment service provider.”
In fact, Schoonhoven sees the similarities between his firm and Mollie. “The level of service at Mollie is exceptional,” he explains, “I have a great relationship with our dedicated Mollie customer success manager, and she offers me advice and insights about how to use payments to grow the business. When integrating Apple Pay Mollie advised how to make sure it worked smoothly instantly. Getting those insights and developing a great relationship with someone at your payment provider is invaluable.”
“I have a great relationship with our dedicated Mollie customer success manager, and she offers me advice and insights about how to use payments to grow the business.”
— Jamahl Schoonhoven founder and CEO of Dr. Blend
For Schoonhoven, growing with Mollie has been a pleasure. “Everything is easy. It’s just a few steps to add any integration, and the onboarding is super quick. New products and payment methods are always launching to help us meet customer demand. And, when we were expanding internationally, Mollie really helped us to grow in other countries quickly– you can basically tap a button to offer the payment method that shoppers prefer immediately.”
For now, it looks like Dr. Blend and Mollie will grow together for many years to come. “We have huge potential in the UK and Germany so that’s our focus for next year,” Schoonhoven explains. “We’re expanding the teams for those countries, and we think that can really drive growth. So, a lot of great things are coming.” And what does Schoonhoven think when he looks back and sees everything that the firm has achieved in the last few years? “I couldn’t be prouder of my colleagues and everything that we’ve done. And I should call my mum.”
Mollie’s mission is to empower businesses to grow. We do that by providing an effortless payment product that boosts conversion with a custom-branded checkout that offers leading and local payment methods. Easily integrate Mollie with your website and onboard quickly with no minimum costs, no lock-in contracts, and no hidden fees. Find out more about payments with Mollie, or read more customer success stories.