Ron Simpson only has something to prove to himself

Serial entrepreneur Ron Simpson, recently turned 40, is known for his successful career in the hospitality and entertainment industry. He co-founded The Avocado Show, a restaurant that owed its success to just one special ingredient. You guessed it… avocados. He is also founder of SKYBOX, a platform aimed at empowering professionals with knowledge and creativity. What drives this entrepreneur? What mark does he want to leave? And how does he view his own future?

Text: Mariska Pinxt

Something to offer or something to prove

“I no longer have the urge to prove myself. I’ve already demonstrated that I have something to offer. Adding colour and value to the world is what matters to me. From a very young age, I’ve always explored stories. I come from a great family with loving parents and a brother and sister. And I was raised trilingual at home, so that’s always been a bit different.

My parents always put on English-language television, and so I was watching very different content than my peers. I listened to New York hip-hop, watched the BBC and used MTV slang. My imagination took me to those places, even though they were not fantasy worlds. It was a world that was beyond my reach at that time. But it was there. And I knew I would get there one day. All of it was a reality, but it just wasn’t my reality yet.”

From Nieuwegein to Utrecht and beyond

“The music on English-language channels did something to me. But it wasn’t possible yet to buy or listen to music online. And Nieuwegein, where I was living, didn’t have anything very extraordinary to offer. That’s why Utrecht appealed more to me, but I couldn’t find everything I was looking for there either. Though I did get to meet people who understood what I was talking about. They could import the music. And they shared stories that inspired me. About music, films, clothes… I just soaked up anything that had a story. I asked myself how I could get closer to those stories. How I could play a role in that myself.

That’s what entrepreneurship is for me: falling in love with something, coming up with a concept for it, and then making it happen.

Of course I had friends in Nieuwegein, but I often felt different. After school, I wasn’t one to play football or to go out and do something with the group every week. I wanted to surround myself with other creatives. People with the same opinions and vision. And who had a lot of knowledge.

For me, there’s a kind of holy trinity: curiosity, entertainment and knowledge. If all of that is present in someone, I just absorb it all. People who know a lot about something inspire me. My broad range of interests meant I could always find new people with knowledge I could completely relate to. And also because we travelled a lot as a family. When you change your environment a lot, you force yourself to learn new things.”

Copywriter on wheels

“The more you learn about certain things, the greater your desire to go somewhere. By the time I’d turned 21, I was already going around the world. Why should I go to Spain four years in a row when you can also go to New York or Tokyo? There wasn’t always a plan, I just wanted to see things and get inspired. And then I would return with different stories from my peers. With new worlds and interests that I latched onto. One of my interests was fashion. I decided to study fashion management. A bizarre choice actually, as it was far below my level of education, but my friends were going there and there were pretty girls. Once I was there, I got bored fairly quickly and became a bit defiant. I didn’t find happiness there, but I did manage to finish it up as quickly as I could. The Small Business and Retail Management course I took after that also had the same effect. Fuck it, I thought. I’m just going to open up my own business. I have a network and I’m capable.

My first venture was Hulk Slogan. I love language and definitely enjoy a good pun. Not like a comedian on stage, I just loved the written word. It was basically copywriting. Social media was just emerging and that was a new form of communication. You could call me, I’d hop on my bike, write something on the spot, collect my money and head off again. ”

Image: Charlotte Grips


“It’s hard to explain what happens when I create something. For me, it’s kind of like a very brief high. I create new links in my mind through making associations at lightning speed. As if I’m going into a kind of zone. And I’m at my happiest when I get to create in that space. It’s like synesthesia, when I hear music my brain translates it into other creative forms super fast.

My brain is always looking for these new sparkles. I got bored very quickly, so I zoomed out. But that’s under control now. I consciously choose the moments when I want to be creative, and when I don’t. I had to teach myself that.”

A rush for life

“In my dynamic lifestyle, I thought for a long time that I would never reach old age. I just wanted to get the most out of every single day. That left me with a less powerful vision of the future. I could never look far enough ahead to see the next stage of my life. It was always the short-term. Non-stop fun shit. I was always on.

In the meantime, I’ve lived a bit longer than I ever thought I would. My ex-partner taught me how important it is to look ahead to the future. She helped me realise how important it is to take good care of yourself. To pull up the handbrake, bring it down for a while. My favourite place to do that is in the shower. I put on some music, dim the lights and light some candles, without any distractions from my phone or the need for conversation. That’s when I truly slow down and that silence in my head creates some space to process everything and come up with new things.”

Someday, when I grow up…

Looking at my next step, as a person I’d really like to explore love more deeply. It’s time to focus on what really matters for a while and make room for a family. Becoming a father does seem like the most special thing there is. My next step in business? To be completely free of time and space and take a trip around the world again. All of those creative excesses are great, but they are often short-lived. It’s time to go forward based on my personal strategy and mission. And not on opportunities.”

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