I'm Thomas Schoffelen, a developer and UI designer, currently working as the co-founder of Includable and CTO of Street Art Cities. Send me an email or tweet.
Occasionally, I like to write stuff and, unlike my work projects, I have a tendency to never finish anything I start writing. Instead of keeping those scribbles in a dark corner of my hard drive, I put them down here, in the hopes of it inspiring someone else to write something.

2018/03 – A hypocrite that turned 21

I feel so alone sometimes. Not really lonely, just alone. And when I feel that way, I’m being so unfair to myself. Why? Because I’m anything but alone.

It’s almost 5:00 in the morning as I’m writing this, on the day of my birth, the eleventh of March. I turned twenty-one about five hours ago. Just before that, at about 11:20 at night, on the tenth of March, I suddenly, randomly, got a text from a dear old friend, telling me that she is in a bar in Amsterdam, actually no more than 5 minutes from my house. By 11:40 I was there, I met her friends, at at midnight they all congratulated me. I was supposed to finish some work for a client of mine (if you’re reading this, mea culpa!), but instead I spent the last five hours having fun (and consuming alcohol) with that group of people.

Why am I awake after all of that? A normal person would have thrown their body into bed as soon as they entered their apartment, and took a few winks before even attempting to write anything Medium-worthy after such a night. Well, the reason: in a few hours I’ll be flying to London, not only to have fun there with my Dutch friends who already flew over yesterday, but also to have birthday drinks with some of my London friends later in the day.

Therefore, the only two hours of today that I’ll be spending alone will be the two or three hours between now and when I leave for the airport to catch my flight, together with the friend and business partner that I’ve been working together with for over six years now. So, the next time I feel alone (or, for that matter, lonely), let this post be a reminder of the hypocrite asshole I am for feeling that way. I’m so fortunate to have all of those people in my life! Just like real hunger, I’ve probably actually never experience the feeling of really being alone in this world.

Also, to future (sober) Thomas: happy birthday! Perhaps you might want to delete this post. Or, at the very least, properly check it for grammar and spelling mistakes!

2017/12 – Friday night

Quit Gmail. Quit my project management application, the one with the bars that present the hours you’ve worked this week. Quit those folders with the source code of those client project. Quit all those browser tab. Why do you even still have a Facebook account? Fuck off. Open up the top buttons of you jacket. Maybe even get some junkfood on the way home, you’re drunk anyways. And you can’t count calories while you’re drunk, right?

It’s quite interesting, that winding down, just after midnight on a Friday, Saturday technically, after all the stress of the week is gone, after all the meetings are done, the emails are sent. Open up that list of movies you still want to see, look up which of them can be found on Netflix. End up at The Pirate Bay because none of them can be found elsewhere.

Open up that brightly coloured box with ‘Chicken McNuggets’ printed in big bold letters on the top. You can’t count calories while you’re drunk.

Press play.

Sink away.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.

And thankfully not a weekday.

2017/08 – Me, a Year Later

Coming up next: How Selfish it is to Start an Article Title with ‘Me’

Almost exactly a year ago I left London, and more importantly, the company I had built there with two colleagues-turned-friends. I promised them to be back in September, October at the latest.

I moved from my small room near Liverpool Street Station into an one-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam near Dam Square. I started part-time studying English literature and linguistics, joined a student association, got college friends. Next to that I went back to work nearly full-time on the company I started when I was 15.

A year has passed. Last month I went with my study association to Manchester, and started noticing all the stuff I had fallen in love with that I had missed since moving to Amsterdam: the chains I started depending on (Caffè Nero, M&S), the people, the shapes and colours of the street signs.

The company I left turned from a team of 4 into a VC-funded 10-person operation. The guy that took my place as CTO now manages a team of multiple developers, instead of doing everything himself like I did (I single-handedly simultaneously created two web apps, a mobile app, and an API platform, making every day since then feel more unproductive than ever). That could have been me. People tend to ask why I left a startup that was popular, gaining investor attention, and built on the foundation of one of the greatest teams of people I have had the pleasure to work with so far.

The short answer is that, as a 19-years old kid, I was looking for as many challenges I could find. London started feeling like a safe place, which I didn’t like, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Away from that steady salary that was exactly the same every month.

Right now I’m in a plane just about to fly over the coast of southern England. The perfect moment for reflection. Did I get my adventure, my moments of discomfort? Hell yeah. I’m not even sure when I’ll be able to pay rent this month. (If my landlord would for some strange coincidence happen to read this: anytime now, I promise!) Regrets? Nope. I’ve earned so many new experiences, got to meet so many cool new people, and I get to work every day to solve a new set of challenges.

That being said, it’s been a year in Amsterdam, so it might slowly be time to go somewhere else sometime soon…

Tomorrow I’m going to the office of my old company, to check in with my friends that I haven’t seen for quite a while, and hopefully learn some lessons from hearing the stories about their past year.

2017/08 – Personality check

Next in this series: “How to make stuff seem to be not about yourself by replacing ‘I’ with ‘you’”

It’s strange how you can lose sight of being yourself in everyday life.

You work, eat, sleep, get drunk, occasionally sleep with other people, but more often just wish you could sleep alone, and repeat. Your Spotify playlists combine Drake and The Eagles, “Passionfruit” and “Life in the Fast Lane” back to back.

You don’t care about working out, but spend a lot of time in front of the mirror every day to fix your hair. Your routine involves working from 8pm to 8am, then realising you have a meeting at noon.

You feel like being in a relationship wouldn’t work for you at this point and that you need space, but also feel lonely whenever you’re not around your friends. Your friends include people in their mid thirties that haven’t figured out that much more stuff than you, but seem infinitely more satisfied with that fact.

You eat healthy, but your alcohol use (and adjoined fast food habits) and constant sleep deprivation totally undermine any positive effects that might have on your health. Your dentist always tells you your teeth are in perfect shape, making you wonder how in the holy heavens that is possible.

You constantly wonder who you are or how much you know about what being you actually means. Your 250-word story on Medium doesn’t answer that question one bit, but does give you something new to tweet about three times over the next week.

2017/05 – Titanic

For the past few evenings, I have heard some kind of music coming from my upstairs neighbour’s apartment. I’m pretty sure it’s the background music of some game, or some kind of pop song, but through the ceiling it sounds to me like the soundtrack of the Titanic movie, or at least the version I had to practice for my keyboard lessons back when I was eleven.

I’m not eleven anymore, haven’t been for a while. Now I’m a 20-year old guy sipping from his glass of vodka, getting drunk alone. Some would call me a man, and I try to act like I am a man as well. But the truth is that I’m just that same child, getting frustrated about not being able to comfortably switch between the cords in the song. But now I’m frustrated about being alone, without money, without luck, it seems, without clear aspirations about the future. Now I’m frustrated about not knowing who I am or who I will be, when I’ll be, whether I’ll be anything at all.

I’ll guess the road forward is quite clear though, and still the same as it was for the eleven year old me: put the sheet music back into the folder, and practice again tomorrow for another 20 minutes, and the day after, until I’m able to play those cords perfectly.


She sat there alone, on the side of the bed. It was silent in her room, but in her head she heard the final chords of a sad love song. She loved this feeling, this undefined, directionless sadness. It felt like home, like all those nights alone. It felt like puberty, like high school. It felt like being alone after having spent all of the weekend together with friends. It felt like her dad's house, her mom's bedroom. Like that boyfriend that wasn't hers. It felt like hearing her brother speak at her uncle's funeral.
She got up from the bed and walked to the bathroom. She turned on the shower and slipped out of her clothes. Wearing only her boy shorts, she looked in the mirror and smiled at the colourful reflection of herself.


I heard a girl speak with a voice like hers. I walked to the window, to see into the dark of my street, to see if it was her. Of course it wasn’t. Just some drunken girl talking to a guy while they walked hand in hand to their final destination for the night. I still helt out hope that she would come running to me one day. That she would ring my doorbell and she would suddenly be standing in my living room. Sitting on my couch. Lounging in my bedroom, laying in my bed. Next to me.


She was lit up with ecstasy when we saw each other again after almost a year had passed. She was studying in Cambridge, I had been working in London. Not that those places were so far apart, but for some reason we never got to actually set a date and meet up before.

The week before I had finally texted her. "Dinner. Friday 9pm. Your town." She replied simply with “Statue in front of train station.” We had learned to be so short and direct with each other over the two years we spent together in secondary school. We never really texted with each other like you normally do. For some reason it felt wrong to say more than a few words in a fashion that was not face to face. We never said more than "At school?" or "Coffee, 3pm?" in our texts.

I didn't have to look for long while walking out of the station. She had noticed me before I had even seen her, hugging me tightly with one arm, while holding her bicycle with the other. "Oh, Thomas," she said with a serious tone. She started smiling, "I've got so much to tell you!"

2016/08 – My materialistic life

I’d like to think that we live two types of lives: a idealistic one, and a materialistic one. And we live those two lives simultaneously, always trying (or failing) to strike a balance between the two.

This month I’m leaving London, after having lived here for more than a year. And between all of the emotions that causes, there’s one thing I feel extremely good about: I once more was able to reduce my materialistic life to something that fits into one suitcase and a backpack.

I get great joy out of throwing stuff away. I am privileged in that I really only need this metal slab that I’m currently typing this on, and some cables, to work and advance my career. Other than that I carry a phone, a notebook, a pile of unread novels, my high school yearbook, and a few sets of clothes.

“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” ― Bertrand Russell

2016/08 – I’ve got time

Late Friday night, walking home from work at 10pm, I had a realisation. I walked throughout the centre of London, drunk and jolly people all around, a group of girls hurrying to get somewhere. I realised a very basic thing, a feeling that I haven’t experienced a lot since I moved to this city: I’ve got time.

Everyone around me always seems to be rushing. I always seem to be rushing. Not tonight. Tonight I’ve got time. I leave the train station behind me, see the tourists, running, shoving and pushing, trying to catch a train or an airplane. Normally I’d feel bad for them, but tonight, I’ve got time.

I might just take a detour and sit on a bench near the park for a while, and look at the people passing by. I might start a conversation with a homeless person. I might write another page for that novel that I’ll never finish. I’ve got time.

I might go and have a chat with the cute girl that always works the late shift at the train station flower shop. I won’t care if she does or does not like me. I won’t care about my first impression. I’ve got time.


That was the safest, happiest time of my youth. That time we played like kids, loved like teenagers and attempted to act like adults. Back when we would spend all of our summer in a tent in her back yard, in a lazy attempt to get away from both of our parents and have just enough privacy to explore the many facets of love.

We spent all our time outside. We crawled out of our tent when the sun came up, and sat on the terrace long after it went down. We would either be in your back yard, at the market in the city centre, or cycling through the fields that surrounded your house. The summer was ours.

I didn’t spend much time at home those summers. A hundred times I had to choose between the damp apartment in the city or the fresh air of your back yard. That choice became more difficult as the summer progressed, with my parents urging me to come home because they hadn’t seen me in weeks and school would start soon. I would always hesitate for a moment, then glance at her and tell my mother that I would call her again tomorrow.

That first summer we spent doing nothing at all. Our main activities were laying in the grass, looking at either the clouds or the stars, and bothering her dad with the kind of questions nobody had an answer for. Her dad was a rich farmer. He owned all these big machines and employed a dozen people that did all the physical work. He would sit in a lawn chair or walk around with a stack of papers, cursing God and talking about taxes and profits to nobody in particular. Sometimes, he would sit down and start teaching the basics of our economy to an ant or a bug that crawled over the cobblestone. “Supply and demand, that’s the basic idea around most of it. If you desire something, we’re talking demand. Now, if you have the ability to fulfil the desire of another individual, that’s what we’d call supply.” We would walk over to him when we heard him talking like that. He would keep his eyes on the little creature and continue to talk to the ground. He always ended his lecture in the same fashion, by looking up at us and asking: “Why do we make it so complicated for ourselves to live a happy life?”, followed by another curse directed at God.

The very first day of that summer we spent by sitting on a terrace looking out over the river. We ordered a bottle of white wine, served in an ice bucket. I paid for the wine and filled up your glass. We were so happy about the start of the summer. No school for the next two months. No homework, no papers, no teachers, just the two of us together day and night.

2016/07 – Do you want to join the fight against Amazon?

For the past year, Nick, Max and myself have been working on building what we see as the future of shopping. Elevator pitch, you ask? Alright;

We don’t understand why today it is easier to order something from a warehouse hundreds of miles away than locating that same product in a shop near you. That’s why NearSt is making the inventory of local shops searchable for nearby shoppers.

The challenge there is that most independent shops either use no system at all to manage their stock, or use a PC with Windows XP, looking like it might catch fire every second, with some unstructured Excel file or a very 1998-looking point of sale system as their primary inventory management tool.

And then there are the large high street chains, many of which that do offer click&collect, but it generally takes them at learst 4 hours from the point you click ‘Buy’ on their website to find out if they actually have the product in the shop and accept your order.

At NearSt, we’ve built a technology platform that works with almost any type of inventory management, and can put most shops online in front of mobile shoppers in less than 15 minutes.

It has been a great year, with lot’s of great challenges, goals reached, panic, happiness, pints, and stress about AWS auto scaling groups. The New York Times even talked about our tech:

NearSt is allowing stores to innovate on a more fundamental level: convenience.
New York Times, June 2016

But unfortunately I need to move on. A few months from now I’ll be starting my university studies in Amsterdam, and so we’re looking for a lead backend developer, someone that can accompany my great co-founders (and, by now, close friends) in the next chapter of supporting local communities, and allowing people to shop locally faster than online.

If you have slammed your head on the keyboard before, thereby creating an algorithm that cannot possibly be described in terms of the big O notation (🤕), and you are up for a new challenge, check out the job description and drop us a line.

Otherwise, I would really appreciate it if you would check out near.st and let me know what you think!

Oh yes, and I’m going to miss London. 👻 No, I really will!


"There was this experiment one time; some scientists took a bunch of monkeys and locked them in a room. And in this room, they had tied a rope to the ceiling and let it dangle down to the floor. And at the top of the rope they had tied a bunch of bananas. Well, any time one of the monkeys would try to climb the rope to get the bananas, they'd blast them all with a firehose! After a few rounds of this, any time one of the monkeys tried to climb the rope, the rest would start beating the hell out of it. Pretty soon, none of the monkeys even tried to climb the rope, let alone get the bananas. Then, they started to replace the monkeys one by one; a new one would come in, try to climb the rope, get the hell beaten out of it, and give up. After a few rounds, it would start beating up the other monkeys if they tried to climb the rope. Pretty soon, the scientists had replaced all of the original monkeys; none of them had been firehosed but still, whenever one tried to climb the rope, the rest would beat the hell out of it. Why? Because that's the way that things had always been...."
G.R. Stephenson, 5 Monkeys and a Ladder


"Her tennis was the highest point to which I can imagine a young creature bringing the art of make-believe, although I daresay, for her it was the very basic geometry of basic reality."
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov


The distinct feeling of losing someone, in any number of ways, but especially losing them due to single-sided love, I experienced as such a painful process that I unconsciously decided not to bind myself to someone, not to take a chance for the greater good. I screwed myself by doing that, over and over again.


With fierce, quick steps, he walked through the street. Along her house, along her garden, along her garage. He made sure not to show any emotion, in case she was watching him. In reality, his heart trembled each time he passed her house. He had imagined how it might become their home someday. Someday they might live together. Happy, in love. Currently though, all he felt towards her was shame. Shame for making her mad, making her feel insecure. She interpreted his signs of safety and comfort as sings of invasion. Had he done something wrong?


Lights blinked and I could only see her eyes,
Like forbidden fruits in paradise.
With the sweetness of her smile she kissed my lips,
Both of my hands guiding her hips.
Suddenly, like thunder, she darkened my sight,
Caused me to lay there for the rest of the night.
The furniture was old, the blood on the wall new.
Even in Paris, death may find its way to you.


The sunlight shone into my face,
But all I saw is your blackish haze.
Poverty is a sin when seen by your eyes,
Just the people who offer you their riches are wise.
Your delight is the world’s greatest aim,
You can make the sea wave and control the rain.
When somebody would possess the power to make you tame,
The storm would stop and the sea would become plain.
Your beliefs and views change by the day,
But your selfishness and anger always seem to stay.
Though your face conceals your devilish plot,
History reveals your dark sense of thought.
Months ago we went our separate ways,
You already started a new chase.
The sun now casts two separate shadows,
And shines upon the grasses in the meadows.


There once were twenty thieves, sitting in the shade of a giant blade of grass. They had a leader, a strong, but little man. He stood up from the ground and started talking to the other thieves. He said: “You know, men, there once were twenty thieves, not much different from us, sitting under a big blade of grass. Nineteen of them were lazy sons of bitches, not much different from all of you, but they had a large, strong leader, not much different from me.” The leader abruptly stopped talking as one of his men had raised his hand, as if he was to ask a question. The leader pointed at him. “But you aren’t really large, right?”, the thieve said. Without stopping staring at the thieve who just talked, the thieve leader slowly took off his left shoe and threw it at his face. He missed, which according to some people was a pity, others said they could not care less.
The thieve leader continued to speak: “The leader of the group got up from the ground and spoke to the other thieves with a deep, rich, voice, just like mine.” The man whose face was not damaged from the shoe, as is should be, attempted to put his hand up, but another shoe landed in his face before he could. The thieve leader continued again: “…


Red lips. Red as cherries. A single chance. A single chance leading up to a first kiss. A first kiss. A hug. A smile. Her eyes, bright as stars. Her lips, sweeter than sugar. Her embrace, warmer than the Sahara desert. Days with her were long. Long like summer camp nights.