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Who will join the IoT & Data start-up program?

I’m in Barcelona again, surrounded by young companies full of energy and ideas how they want to conquer the world with their innovations in Internet of Things & Data. During these final selection days, we’ll pick the 10 European companies that have the best fit for the 2017 Startupbootcamp acceleration program starting November 28, 2016. Here’s a video summary of the 2016 alumni, performing on stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Watch your breath at Sunrise Rock

Imagine starting your day 8 am at Ibiza’s Sunrise Rock with a breathtaking view, as the sun is emerging from the sea… After that inspiring view follows a variety of yoga activities at an amazing location just 3 minutes from the sea, with food across the day that even non-veggies fight for. All this provided by Afke and her Angels in a both professional and spiritual way. For me it has opened windows I can’t remember I experienced before.
Isn’t there anything that can be improved about the retreat? Well, the rooms are sort of OK, but hey, I looked for an inspiring mat to place my head on, not a 5-star pillow ;-)

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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
Growth
  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.
Exit
  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.
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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…

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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.

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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.