Introducing you to one of our Dutch Digital Design partner agencies: putting them in the spotlight. Giving you a look behind the scenes. Sharing some Dutch digital design insights. Or telling you about something that they believe the world needs to know. This month it is Robot Kittens’ turn - a creative digital agency . You will find them in Hilversum, between Amsterdam and Utrecht. They believe that genuine passion for the work that you do, is priority number one. Without this you cannot deliver the best creative and innovative work. Without this you cannot be a true Robot Kitten. We chat with Tijmen Mulder, co-founder and creative director. About what it takes to be a Robot Kitten. What values, opinions, knowledge and expertise contribute to their unique Robot Kittens culture. And why this matters.
From Superhero Cheesecake to Robot Kittens. Partners in digital creativity.
A short history.
In 2009 Tijmen started boutique digital creative studio Superhero Cheesecake - now part of the immersive web team at Media.Monks. Tijmen defines himself as a creative coder at the time. Using code as a tool to develop creative digital concepts. His mantra was (and is) to always follow your gut feeling. His passion for anything digital, anything tech being his main driver. Prioritising creating beautiful, innovative work and people over commercial gain. This meant that in 2016 Superhero Cheesecake and Tijmen decided to go their separate ways. Their ambitions had changed.
So, what was next?
Robot Kittens was next. Together with Niels Filmer and two other partners.
Niels is still at Robot Kittens and going strong as co-owner and technical director. In the days before being a Robot Kitten, he was an encryption specialist and later became a developer at MTV Networks. He then joined Tijmen at Superhero Cheesecake as a senior developer. The rest is history. As technical director Niels is responsible for the backbone of all projects created at Robot Kittens. With years of experience in tackling the technical challenges of projects.
So, are there any women at Robot Kittens?
Yes, of course, there are! And one has been there almost right from the start: Didi van Doggenaar. She was officially the sixth kitten to join in 2017 - as project manager with a background in media and also the chairman of the Young in Media board. Now in 2023 Didi is operations director, and part of the Robot Kittens management team. Hands up to Didi.
Early 2022 commercially savvy Jesse Mons joined Robot Kittens as managing director and co-owner. As his partners and fellow co-owners Tijmen and Niels take care of respectively the creative and technical sides, Jesse manages operations - together with Didi, finance and business development. He is all about efficiency, and continuously looking for areas to improve. His main focus is people management, developing and growing teams and client-and partner relationships. Jesse worked for large agencies, including DDB & Tribal Worldwide, BBDO and Publicis - covering production and operations - on a broad range of clients including KLM, Heineken, Vodafone and Adidas. To name but a few.
‘It all started with Flash. Small websites. Facebook campaigns. And silly computer games. We weren’t necessarily concept creators but more focused on production.
Now we join the creative process much earlier on: we look where we can improve the concept on the basis of technology. We see ourselves as partners in digital creativity. We co-create. We collaborate. With clients direct, but also together with other creative agencies.
We are digital natives. Our focus is always on technology. We believe in sticking to what we are good at, and keep getting better at it.
However, we don’t just focus on one technology. We always explore which technology allows for the concept to be executed in the best possible creative and innovative way. This means that all Robot Kittens need to be multi-disciplinarians. From designers, concept creators to developers and editors. From UI design to 3D animations. From concept to production and deployment. If it’s digital technology, we love it. But we don’t just sell technology, we sell a polished digital experience.
We step in when needed. Right from the start, in the middle or right at the end. As a creator or digital advisor. We love a challenge.’
Partners in digital creativity - a few examples
‘Together with the NTR - a Dutch public broadcasting company - we developed the concept of historical pod walks - GPS driven audio tours. About towns and villages in the Netherlands where flooding has caused major issues. The pod walks accompanied the television programme ‘Het water komt’ (English translation: ‘The water is coming’). There was no look and feel or concept for the programme itself yet. Result: the client loved it so much that they adopted our concept and design of the pod walks for the overall look and feel of the television programme.
Another great example of a project where we worked directly with the client - from concept to production - is Botanical Wonders for the Flower Council Holland. A web-AR experience on your mobile phone. To raise awareness of the benefits of indoor plants and flowers. Making it right for the target audience, it couldn’t be too game-like, and had to be accessible. The way we worked with the client was iterative: daily meetings with the client for optimisation. This made the whole process flexible and lots of fun. Result: an augmented reality experience turning your living room/house into a green haven, drawing you into the world of plants and flowers.
And a great international example: our Oxxo F1 retro racing game. Again from concept to production. Together with Ice Mobile we worked on the best way to approach the project, resulting in a lot of prototyping but also playing the game. Oxxo is a chain of Mexican convenience stores. They approached us to develop a concept that would create excitement about the Formula One coming to Mexico, including Mexican racing driver Sergio Pérez. The biggest challenge would be that the concept needed to be integrated within their existing app. Therefore, the game needed to be web-based. Another consideration was that most devices used in Mexico have lower specifications than we are used to over here. Result: a retro racing game where players/customers could earn additional rounds by buying products. With a grand prize of tickets to the actual Formula One race in the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.’
To be a Robot Kitten. It’s a way of life.
A Robot Kitten = a creative centipede, a sociable techy with an intrinsic interest in their work, but also in the people around them.
People matters + technology matters + fun matters = the best work.
‘We are a close-knit family. We believe that this is needed to guarantee the highest level of dedication and quality. We are a team of like-minded, tech-savvy, passionate and driven individuals.
At Robot Kittens, people and
creating beautiful innovative work will always come first. This is why we are focused on finding people that fit the team and have the right skill set. We have chosen to grow steadily instead of rapidly. We are always looking for the missing pieces in the Robot Kittens puzzle. One by one. To make sure the piece fits.
To be a Robot Kitten is to have a strong sense of responsibility. To share our passion for digital technology and anything else techy. Our work is our hobby. We enjoy cracking a code for a new game or finding a new way of creating a 3D animation - even in our spare time ;-) We move along with technology. Always looking for the latest developments.
To be a great Robot Kitten, you need to be happy at work. As our Robot Kittens family isn’t that large, it is important that you feel grounded and at home. There is no hierarchy within the Robot Kittens family. We all work together and inspire each other. But most of all we like to have fun. Fun creating the best digital experience possible. Together.
And in case you think it’s just work, work, work with those Robot Kittens. We think life outside work matters too: a Robot Kitten has unlimited holidays. Up to them whether they choose to spend it creating a next-level AR game ;-).’
Robot Kittens 2.0
‘The world is our oyster. We want to be globally renowned creators and partners in digital creativity. The Netherlands is a great digital hub, but we have so much more to give. We want to make beautiful things for and with anyone who is interested in creating high quality digital experiences with us - here and abroad. From creative digital consultancy and concepting to high-end production.
We believe in investing in long-term partnerships - with all our Robot Kittens and our clients. For great, next-level digital experiences. From Hilversum to the moon.’