For those who may have missed the interview on the 1st edition of Market 33, or for those who seek a fresh perspective on the driving force behind Market 33, this interview is an opportunity to know more about the mission, and future aspirations of your favourite neighbourhood food hall in Amsterdam. Join us as we explore the journey that led Calvin Choi to create Market 33, the challenges he overcame, and the dreams he continues to chase.
In this exclusive interview, Calvin Choi opens up about the inspiration that fueled his vision, the values that guide Market 33, and the exciting innovations that lie ahead. Get ready to be inspired, informed, and engaged as we dive deep into the story of Market 33, a testament to the power of innovation and entrepreneurship.
What is your academic and professional background?
“I studied Business Administration at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and majored in Marketing. Professionally, I worked at Canon Europe in the corporate communications department in the field of Events & Sponsorships in Amstelveen and London. After I came back to Amsterdam, I moved into the advertising industry at TBWA, with Heineken as my main account. VICE MEDIA was my next step, setting up the online presence for clothing brand C&A.”
How did the idea of Market 33 come about?
“It’s a long story (laughs). I also studied at the University of California in Davis. While living there, I visited shopping malls and sometimes ended up in the food court section. I found it very interesting: the concept of sharing a table and ordering from different cuisines, although the food in these shopping malls was primarily fast food and there was a lack of atmosphere. Although I enjoyed it, I never thought about it as a business opportunity at the time. When I came back to Amsterdam, I lived in the Zuidas area. At a certain point, I walked into this empty and big place (which today is Market 33) that was being used as a storage for a clothing store. I saw the space and it amazed me.
Food truck festivals were very popular at the time and this “eureka” moment happened for an indoor food truck festival. This was the initial idea that made Market 33 what it is today. The food truck festival was stuck in my head therefore I decided to make a business plan and move the idea forward during evenings after work. The final idea of Market 33, what we know today, happened while I was writing the business plan. The best direction to take for this project would be to turn it into a permanent food court.”
What do you think that distinguishes Market 33 from its competitors?
“Our space, our variety and quality of food, and the fact that we are a team of food entrepreneurs. That combination sets it apart from the competition. Passionate entrepreneurs create an inspiring vibe. We are a big location but even if you walk in alone, there’s always a cozy space for you.”
What is your number one tip for managing a business?
“The most important thing for me is focus. I started working on the idea in 2014. I quit my job in 2015 to focus entirely on the project and Market 33 opened in 2016. Full focus was crucial.”
What is your number one tip for managing people?
“You end up managing people on different levels. Every person is unique, therefore you have to understand their way of thinking. It’s very important to share your business vision to the team. It is essential to be very clear on your expectations, what do you want your barista’s, bartenders, runners, marketing executives and managers to achieve.”
What is the best and most demanding part of being a CEO?
“I am very proud of the fact that Market 33 is running for 6 years and that we are in a good position with 10 successful food stands. We also have a very good team that can take responsibility to improve this place. At the same time that’s also the most difficult part, to create the right team. For example, at Market 27 I am still trying to put all the pieces together. It’s crucial to find the right team to work together because on your own it is never possible.”
What are the major obstacles that Market 33 is likely to encounter over the next five years?
“To maintain the high quality of food, drinks, and service. Making our staff happy is very important but also keeping the customer engaged by surprising them and making sure that they are still satisfied and comfortable with us. To keep the Market 33 family, that includes staff and guests, wanting to be at their favourite place in Amsterdam.”
Market 27, your new project, is opening up in Noord. Can you tell us more about it? What will be the main differences regarding Market 33?
“Market 27 will have a similar vibe to Market 33. We want to be an accessible place where all people can have a great time. A place where food enthusiasts can start their dream of opening their own food business. Noord is a different area than Zuidas. In Zuidas, our customers are mainly professionals and people that live in the area. In Noord, the audience is more diverse: travellers (since we are located in the metro station), residents, tourists, students, and people looking for entertainment due to the cinema and shopping mall nearby. What I desire is that all of them can recognise the quality of our food, drinks and inspiring environment. To come in for a quick cup of coffee, have after-work drinks with colleagues, come with the family and have a nice meal together, and always feel at home with us.”