Skip to content

Become a better Leader with clarity in your vision, confidence in your actions, and calmness in your mind

My name is Manuel Koelman [kuːlman]. I am a serial entrepreneur and leadership whisperer. Entrepreneurs can become part of my „Inner Circle“ and I will help them grow their business and themselves.


Entrepreneurs get direct access to me, my know-how and experience of 20+ years building, running and investing in companies, as well as to the PIRATE network.

In the last decade, I have been sparring partner to more than 100 Leaders from various businesses. Read what they say about working with me.

Currently, I spend 50% of my time with the Leaders of the companies in the PIRATE family. The other 50% I spend with ambitious Leaders that are on the journey to build and grow meaningful businesses. And themselves.

Read more about my „Inner Circle“ in my publication „Making Business More Human“.


I started my first company in 2003. Most of the challenges that an entrepreneur faces, I can deeply relate to. The tough conversations, the hard decisions, the setbacks, the personal sacrifices, the feelings of isolation, the mental exhaustion, the anxiety.

The reality is that entrepreneurship can be a lonely and – at times – overwhelming journey. Are we working on the right things? How can we find customers consistently? How to motivate the team? Etc.

Being the leader of a company means that persistent problems eventually end up in your lab. And as an entrepreneur, those problems are everywhere. When mud hits the fan, guess who everyone is looking at for answers?

The issues often seem to have obvious solutions in isolation, but they are less so when put in the context of the specific business, team, and stakeholder environment. And they usually come with decisions. Real decisions are hard because “something’s gotta give”.

That stream of constant problems and decisions can be exhausting. Eventually, it will reveal personal questions that were nagging below the surface. Questions closely related to our hopes, desires, fears, needs, or beliefs.

Why am I doing this and what for? The initial passion is gone, by now it feels like a constant rat race to hit milestones. How do I grow, transform and build a life of meaning?

On that lonely journey, it is hard to find somebody to trust and to speak with openly. And yet there is hardly anything more effective than taking moments of reflection, structuring the challenges, and prioritizing well.

For the business, but also the personal journey.

My job is to help you see clearly, navigate the ups and downs, and find the best way forward. I am your sparring partner, not a consultant. So rather than selling fish, I will help make sure that you know how to catch fish and become the best fisherman you can possibly be. 



I am an entrepreneur at heart, and that is deeply reflected in how I work. My primary focus is on results and outcomes. That requires that we find out what is feasible and effective. Usually, that means to reduce complexity, prioritize and focus.

Working together is going to be a no-BS relationship. 

No BS because it will only work if we are radically honest with each other and ourselves. Relationship, because this shouldn’t be a one-time transaction, but something meaningful that grows over time.

I will make it a priority to help you get to wherever you want to go. 

The only thing I expect of you is that you are sincere. Sincere about being radically honest. Sincere about putting in the work. Sincere about genuinely wanting to grow into your best self.

We will agree on one or two fixed time slots every month. This is our regular heartbeat. It keeps us on track and moving forward. You will decide on the topics. It’s your journey, after all.

My role? I’m your sparring partner, devil’s advocate, mentor, sounding board, listener, motivator, or friend. I will help you gain clarity in your vision, confidence in your actions, and calmness in your mind.

What I have to say will be hands-on and straightforward, but always from the heart and with your interest in mind. Whatever happens, you can count on me. I am relentlessly in your corner.

When there is anything you need to discuss between the regular meetings, you get priority links to book time in my calendar. That way, we can address unexpected or urgent matters.

If I can help with my PIRATE network, I will gladly do so.



Entrepreneurs that want to grow and become the best leader they can be. 

Entrepreneurs that want to grow in a specific leadership area. 

Entrepreneurs that feel overwhelmed by the ups and downs of building a business. 

Entrepreneurs that have extremely ambitious growth/scaling targets.


A structured and hands-on approach to reach your objectives.

Somebody that holds you accountable to your objectives.

Unfiltered feedback and sparring on the topics that matter most to you.

Access to a super strong network of startups, investors and entrepreneurs.


Working together is going to be a no-BS relationship with radical honesty.

I will make it a priority to help you get to wherever you want to go.

One or two fixed time slots every month + priority links to book time whenever needed.

Communication via messenger or mail with fast response times.

I am comfortable working with you in English, German, or Dutch. You pay a fixed monthly retainer. But it’s not for my time; it’s for my support and having your back. Cancel whenever – no strings attached.


Strategy, tactics and tools are super helpful. But that’s not enough to become a great leader. Working with me means to be radically honest with yourself.

By learning to better understand yourself, you will get closer to your truest self. When you can lead yourself better, you will become a better leader for others. Consequently, you will find more fulfillment in your work and your relationships.

One way of connecting with your truest self is to pause for a moment. It’s scary, as when we stand still, we run the risk of remembering who we are. That would mean we’d stop pretending that we’ve got it all figured out and may be confronted with our deepest fears. Our insecurities. 

The running prevents us from being ourselves. From being in balance.

At this moment of stillness, ask yourself: How are you complicit in creating the things you want to avoid in your life?


Sparring only works when there is trust. Let’s get to know each other first in a free consultation session.

Please bring the main topic or current challenge you want to talk about, so we can dive right in. Also, I will answer all the questions you might have about working with me.

The first session is entirely free and 100% confidential.

Do you want your work to be more focused and meaningful?

Get in contact.

sparringpartner [at] pirate [dot] coach