Finding the next big thing in Amsterdam

Everyone dreams of finding the next big thing – the idea, field or concept that will become a game-changer. For most people, this kind of discovery remains elusive, but not for Luke Thomas. Born in the UK, he moved to Amsterdam 2011 and began working for himself as a recruiter, helping startups, digital agencies and consultancies find developers. While he was busy connecting companies and candidates, associates told him to concentrate on frontend development and JavaScript, saying it was the future.

Fortunately for Thomas, who followed their advice, they were right. He soon launched a specialised recruitment agency, thefrontendlab, and found himself working with major corporations while growing his network. However, he eventually realised he needed to take things in a new direction. “What I found was that consultancies drive a lot of the industries… and at a certain point, I thought maybe I should just start one," he says.  

Inspired, he joined forces with Nick Van Dijk and David Den Toom to create Passionate People in 2017. Backed by a team of in-house developers who partner with clients on projects, it's changing the way tech talent works in Amsterdam. It doesn’t end there for Thomas, though – he’s also busy organising events that bolster the city’s reputation as a tech, startup and entrepreneurial hub. 

Answering a demand for specialist developers

From the start, Thomas knew companies in the Netherlands struggled to fill openings and needed a consultancy like Passionate People to help them find employees. “On average, we get seven to 10 chats with clients for our developers. That’s how big the demand is; there’s obviously a shortage. I think one reason is they can’t hire or find permanent people themselves. And secondly, if they want someone in an emergency, or a higher level of a person, you hire a consultancy.”

Passionate People office graffiti

Luke visits with colleagues in the Passionate People office

Businesses can also rest easy knowing Passionate People appreciates the problems they face. "Companies used to rely heavily on recruitment agencies staffed by highly trained individuals. Now, there is a shift towards in-house recruitment, but companies hire graduates with little or no experience, and provide them with limited training in terms of hiring."


This creates risk. Relying on a typical agency to fill a specialist role can lead to signing an unqualified candidate. After all, if the recruiter doesn’t understand the nuts and bolts of a position, they’re probably not going to find the best person for it. By turning to specialised consultancies such as Passionate People, however, companies know they’ll end up with the right fit.


A hyper-focused approach to recruitment

Being hyper-focused has helped Thomas succeed so far. Unlike consultancies that take a generalised approach, he concentrates exclusively on frontend and JavaScript development. And though this accounts for a smaller portion of the market, it’s helped Passionate People become a leader in its field. 

Thomas knows it all begins with choosing the right members for his team. “Because I’m a recruiter and because of the high-level clients I’ve always had, I know you don’t get people from adverts, you don’t get people from posts online,” he says. “You have to headhunt. And because I’ve done that for a living, it’s really not that difficult [and] now that we’ve built a name for ourselves, it becomes easier as time goes by.”

Passionate People_Luke and team

Luke and a few members of Passionate People have fun at a conference

Amsterdam is a fantastic place for talent

Unsurprisingly, Passionate People has benefitted immensely from being in . “It’s a fantastic place for talent. It’s an easy place to relocate to,” Thomas says, explaining that he works with a mix of international and Dutch developers. 

Passionate People prioritises giving back to the local tech scene, too. It oversees more than half a dozen meetup groups for developers and organises major conferences, including Frontend Love and Vuejs Amsterdam. This makes it easier for Thomas to bring new people aboard as well, as the chance to attend events and contribute to the industry is a big draw. “This is a major reason people join our company,” says Thomas. “They feel they can add value back to the industry they work in.”