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Founders Diaries: Jan Willem Poot on knowing there is always a solution

In 2004, Jan Willem Poot created a business that aimed to give youths a week in the great outdoors. It used sport activities to stimulated co-operation. The secret to its success” The participants were always put first.

Because of this, he noticed that the problems he encountered first-hand still existed in European youth care, health care and addiction care. A new clinic, named Yes We Can Youth Clinics, spawned from this realisation.

Since its creation, the company has grown substantially, with 80% of those treated at Yes We Can Youth Clinics no longer need specialised health care.

Here, Poot unveils his growth plans and emphasises the importance of tackling mental health problems.

Founder: Jan Willem Poot
In a sentence: With 140 beds, Yes We Can Youth Clinics is the biggest (international) treatment centre in Europe, treating 700 young people a year aged 13-25.
Turnover: 25 million per year

Your legacy

We are the turning point in the lives of those teenagers, adolescents and young adults across the globe who are suffering from mental health issues, addictions and behavioural problems. Yes We Can Youth Clinics aspires to be regarded as the leading expert and most reliable treatment centre in the world.

Your business model

We offer a 10-week residential treatment programme for teenagers and young adults in the Netherlands. We are also one of the few clinics to offer an extensive coaching and counselling programme for parents and carers.

Following the 10-week residential treatment programme, we also devise a strong aftercare plan to ensure maximum treatment success. Treatment in our international facility is privately funded or in some cases covered by insurance.

How do you measure success?

Success for us is when our clinic is filled with people from all over the world and when they positively complete the treatment and manage to apply the tools given to them. They fill their days with meaningful activities and manage to steer away from old behaviour.

Growth plans

In seven years” time, we grew from a turnover of £1 million to £25 million, leading to the opening of our international facility in August 2017. It was a goal we had been working towards for two years prior. In the past year, we focused mainly on the UK and opened an office in London. We are, however, already treating young people from all over the world in our international youth clinic.

How did you fund your business?

After being in recovery for one year myself, I started an outdoor sports and activities company for teenagers. I saw so many of them come in with the same problems I used to have and I heard the same stories about the treatment centres that I used to experience. Something needed to change.

After running a few successful pilots, I sold the sports company and started Yes We Can Youth Clinics. Our national treatment is funded by national health care insurance and the government and the international treatment is privately funded and in some cases by international healthcare insurance.

Your biggest technology boost

In order to provide the best healthcare possible, we need the Electronic Client File. We also use BI-tools to continuously monitor for which age group and what specific problem area our treatment is most effective. This way we can keep optimising our treatment and work towards the utmost effective treatment.

In five years

The number of young people struggling with mental health issues, addictions and behavioural problems is increasing worldwide, which automatically causes the industry to grow. In five years I want Yes We Can Youth Clinics not only to be regarded in the Netherlands as the leading expert in adolescent mental health and addiction care but in the whole world.

Your highest point

Last year one of my dreams came true. A dream that I had been working on for two years behind the scenes and that finally became reality in August 2017: the opening of our international youth clinic.

Your lowest point

In the first few years, we have seen huge growth, from two to 20 million in five years. I neglected to inform the team about the growth we were experiencing and why. Eventually, it took a lot of effort, energy and time to explain to everyone why we were expanding and where we were heading afterwards.

What would you tell your younger self

Start sharing your pain, stop “people pleasing”, work hard and know that there is always a solution.

Your policy wish list

In an ideal world I would love to see governments all over the world providing decent health care for everyone and make decisions based on long term solutions.

Guilty pleasure:

I love listening to music from the 70s.

What would make you a better leader?

If I would have a bit more patience and let my initial reaction sink in before I speak my mind.

The one app you use the most


A day in your life

I have a structured daily routine:

  • Wake up at 6.45,
  • Take a shower and shave,
  • Eat breakfast consisting of an apple, quark and nuts,
  • Meditate for 15 minutes,
  • Enjoy my 12 hours of working the best job I could have ever wished for with the best colleagues, external partners, and teenagers and young adults,
  • Get home around 20:30,
  • Have dinner,
  • Exercise,
  • Spend quality time with my wife,
  • Sleep.

On your reading list right now

I?m not a fan of business books. The way I improve my leadership is to sit down with people I can really learn from, and not from a book.

On your watchlist right now

I was really inspired by the movie The pursuit of happiness.



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