Natura Artis Magistra

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

The summer weather in Amsterdam reminds me a lot of Hawaii, the mix of sun and rain. This was on display yesterday as 20 intrepid Appsterdammers set out on an urban safari across the marvel that is the Artis Zoo for our first Appsterdam Family Weekend.

We had a good mix of people: adults and children, expats and locals, stalwarts and newbies. We got together at the Artis gate of what is properly called Natura Artis Magistra (Nature the Teacher of Art), the 19th century garden in the heart of the Dutch capital.

Each of the three gates bears one part of the name, and the popularity of the Artis gate, and of the garden’s grand menagerie, led to the more common designation that we know it by today: the Artis Zoo.

Despite the naming confusion, Artis is more than just a zoo. It also hosts an aquarium, a planetarium, and two museums. There is a good mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits and attractions, which makes it perfect for mixed weather.


I’ve been to a lot of zoos. I’m a big fan of them. I got the VIP tour at the St. Louis Zoo for a fundraiser I did for the Madagascar Fauna Group. I got married at the Honolulu zoo. I have a good base of reference when I say the Artis may be my favorite zoo.

I also love lemurs. I’ve championed a bunch of lemur-related causes. I made a nice donation to the Lemur Conservation Foundation while I was in Florida so I could stop by and visit their lemurs. When I go to any zoo, I head straight for the lemurs. Sometimes that’s all I’ll see.

The two lemur exhibits at Artis are completely open, meaning the lemurs are just running around with you. They could jump on your head if they were so inclined. How awesome is that? When I’m hanging out with the lemurs at Artis, I think, as I so often do in Amsterdam, you can’t do this in the States.


What made this last visit to the Artis even better is that I was there with a bunch of other App Makers and their families. Most of us went for dinner and drinks afterwards. It’s fun to go to the zoo, and it’s fun to go out for dinner, but it’s even more fun with a bunch of your friends.

That is what we talk about when we talk about Appsterdam.

Special thanks to Vijay for sharing his pictures.

Thank you

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Amber van de Velde
Anne Fortuin
Antonio (Willy) Malara
Arne Bolt
Axel Roest
Birgit Reizevoort
Craig Latta
Eloy Durán
Javier Cicchelli
Judy Chen
Kasia Kwiecien
Mariela Dimitrova
Martinus Meiborg
Matt Feigal
Matteo Manferdini
Midas Kwant
Paul Siegmann
Peter Robinett
Peter Tuszynski
Robbert van Ginkel
Robert Shepherd
Tim van de Velde
Vijay Kiran
Yakim van Zuijlen
Stichting NDSM-Werf
Solid Ventures
Startup Weekend Amsterdam
Waag Society

…and all the people who took in a guest, donated money, bought a shirt, retweeted us, gave us advice, did us a favor, or came to this great city to help celebrate our movement.

We actually pulled this off

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

The Appsterdam Movement

This weekend the Appsterdam movement launched the Summer of Appsterdam, our first set of initiatives for building the City of Apps. We’ll have the whole summer to talk more about that. For now, I want to tell you about the actual event. I think—I’m not 100% positive, but I think—we managed to throw the greatest launch party of all time.

Lots of people have launch parties, and a lot of them are really great, but most of them only last one night. Our launch party lasted the entire weekend.

Festivities began on Friday night, as people arrived from all over the world to join with local App Makers in taking over the bar terrace of ‘t Loosje. We spent the night getting to know each other over drinks and snacks overlooking the historic Waag building, home of the city’s open data initiative.

On Saturday morning, attendees had their choice of six tours around the city, each lovingly assembled and expertly delivered by local guides. These were not just touristic strolls through shopping streets. I mean, just look at the program for the Appstars tour. That was just one of the adventures shared by each group of App Makers, each giving them a chance to get to know Appsterdam and each other.

Saturday night, we got together at Panama for a big launch party, sponsored by Igluu and Vodafone. I took the stage and delivered a keynote featuring people and companies in Appsterdam. We also had iPad stands where people could see what their fellow Appsterdammers have been working on.

During the party we introduced our website, our summer initiatives, our new and upcoming Appsterdam Noord and Appsterdam Centraal workspaces, and the Appsterfund, a collection of entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to providing Appsterdammers with the help they need to build their companies.

The room crackled with excitement and enthusiasm. People loaded up on T-shirts and stickers, as well as swag and discounts donated to the movement. Friends were made. Business was conducted. Products were launched. Companies were founded.

In addition to the planned events, Friday and Saturday nights we had Appsterdam After Dark, where groups of App Makers went out to experience the unique nightlife that has made Amsterdam famous. If you think you love your colleagues after a night out drinking, imagine how you feel after a night out in Amsterdam.

On Sunday, we had a hangout-warming hangover brunch at Appsterdam Noord on the NDSM-werf. Again, local App Makers gave of themselves, bringing their favorite toppings for that most Dutch of meals: diverse broodje. We ate, drank, and talked on the bank of the IJ, giving us all a glimpse into our future.

The sun shone down on the exhausted but invigorated App Makers and their families as they said their goodbyes and made plans to return. People trickled out to catch their planes, trains, and buses, or got on their bikes and rolled out in search of dinner.

Guided tours of Amsterdam. A family-friendly picnic. The most livable city in the world. Consider the bar raised.

But the real story of the Appsterdam Launch Party Weekend is not how great it was, but how it happened in the first place. We had no money, no patron, no company behind us. People produced a video and a magazine, put together tours, built a website, found sponsors, and took care of a million little details necessary to pull this weekend off without a hitch.

This launch was not my doing, but the work of some two dozen dedicated and passionate volunteers—people and companies who spent their time and money, working together to achieve something great for the good of all App Makers.

This weekend not only introduced Appsterdam to the world, it also validated the movement behind it. Can your launch party do this?