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Screenshot 2016-08-05 09.05.06

Lessons learned in building a tech company

Quite often I get the question from early stage entrepreneurs "what’s the secret sauce for building a successful tech company?". And then I have to disappoint them, there is not a single magic formula in my view, you actually need to do a lot of things right. Since SYKES Inc. acquired Qelp in July 2015, the company I founded, I’ve been asked to do a presentation or interview from time to time. Here are some of my lessons learned when going through Early Stage, Growth and the Exit process of a company like Qelp. Let me add that before founding Qelp, I co-founded ThreeFive Photonics, a venture capital backed optical chips company. I benefitted enormously from that experience when building Qelp. 

Early stage
  1. Follow your passion aggressively, regardless what others tell you
  2. Entrepreneurs are typically early with their idea, sometimes too early, timing is critical
  3. Finding a launching customer often requires a long deep breath
  4. Friendship can take you through the toughest times
  5. Limited funds can be a blessing in finding creative solutions
  6. Hire hands-on people, no corporates
  7. Read the signs of the time, such as trends: SaaS, mobile first, cloud, analytics, IoT
  8. Run your company digitally, end-to-end
  9. Get input from coaches, boards, advisors, investors, but you make the decisions
  10. Try to bootstrap your company as long as you can, venture capital has it’s pro’s and con’s, winning venture capital does not equal success
  1. Ensure you have the right business model before accelerating growth
  2. Invest in growth, but profitable growth
  3. Think globally from day 1, break out of your national market, but start with a narrow geographioc focus
  4. Select people on growth potential, changing business requirements will require them to change and grow into new roles and responsibilities
  5. Choose a mission, vision, core values. (Mission Qelp: Helping people outsmart technology; Core values: passion, personal growth, end-user focus, can-do mentality, openness) 
  6. Designing and rigorously implementing processes is critical to make your company scalable and profitable
  7. Building a great company is not something trivial, it takes a lot of time, hard work and making a lot of “right” choices.
  1. Ensure alignment of the interests of shareholders, management, employees
  2. It’s a marketing and sales job and you are the product
  3. Be prepared for a 6 – 12 months roller coaster, with a lot of twists and turns
  4. Share the success with your employees, share- and stakeholders.

Jonathan Jeremiah’s magic moment

Goosebumps (kippenvel) from Jonathan Jeremiah’s concert today at Paradiso Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam North. A fantastic experience in the coziness of a small parc with just a 1,000 fans. Magic…


Changing perspective

Does living in a village versus living in a city affect one’s perspective on things, on life? Not sure there has been any scientific research done on that topic, but there must be a significant difference as the lifestyle in a city is very different from a village. I’ll be experiencing that shortly, as I’m moving into the heart of Amsterdam this week, trading a great street view in Naarden for a fantastic Amsterdam canal view.

Screenshot 2015-10-24 22.22.06

Amsterdam 2nd in European city start-up index

Great to see that the perception of Amsterdam has changed quite a bit in the last few years. Amsterdam is now rated 2nd in the Top 35 of European cities with the best conditions for start-ups. Ranking is based on multiple criteria including a.o. access to capital, entrepreneurial culture, mentor availability and even lifestyle. Nice PR, this will attract more talent to the city and the Netherlands.

Smog vacuum cleaner

Another cool new project by Dutch designer, entrepreneur Daan Roosegaarde. His "Smog Free Tower" cleans 30.000 m3 polluted air per hour without ozon, runs on green wind energy and uses no more electricity than a waterboiler (1400 watts). Rightfully so, Roosegaarde has been elected recently as #16 on the NRC Cultuur Top 100, listing the most influential Dutch artists internationally. 


Fingerprint hotel check-in

This week the Alma hotel in Barcelona exceeded my expectations. Earlier I had chosen the hotel because of it’s beautiful garden, great for relaxing when you return after a packed agenda. Today, underway for the selection of the 10 coolest start-ups for Startupbootcamp IoT & Data Barcelona, they sent me the following text message "Dear Mr. Deelman, We are looking forward to welcoming you back at  AlmaBarcelona Hotel. Your room (# …) is already prepared and you could access with your fingerprint  without passing by the reception. Until your arrival, we wish you a safe journey. Sofia, Reception AlmaBarcelona." I have always found the hotel check-in procedure a headache, what a convenient innovation!


Under construction…

Watch the return of the Pink Panther ;-) This blog visually no longer reflects the identity of the author! The current template was meant to be a temporary solution after a WordPress update no longer supported the design I started with. I’ll be back,soon :-)