There’s talking about building your tech ecosystem. Then there’s staying late to help aspiring entrepreneurs, teams and founders. For free.
The HighTechXL crew put in a late night on 26 November with the debut of its Give Back Monday program.
Give Back Mondays are open to all startups that can use some expert advice, direction, fresh thinking or maybe just a bit of encouragement.
For GBM No. 1, we hosted 16 people representing 10 teams (yes, some had more than one startup.)
It was, to say the least, an interesting mix with companies as diverse as a tech platform and a green roof company, an AI group and Mehmet Ali Anil and Basak Demirci, a team from Turkey building a digital feedback device for restaurants.
• Business plans: Jošt Faganel
• Finance: Betsy Lindsey and Eric Broekhuizen
• Storytelling/pitches: Edzard Janssens and Kimon Kodossis
• IP: Hans Helsloot, RVO, and Freek Smit, Freek Smit Consultancy
Huddles were followed by networking with drinks and snacks.
There were several interesting concepts including Tony Gourdoparis’ concept of using wrist sensors to control computers with gestures rather than keyboards or other peripherals. Gourdoparis, a native of Greece, works at ASML.
Brian Velda and Dennis Schaeps from Technical University of Eindhoven represented FruitPunch AI, an effort to build a talent/employer platform to make Eindhoven the AI capital of the Netherlands.
Nick Nedelchuk is an IT developer at IKEA. He's developing Localie, a travel app that customizes travel according to the language users speak, starting with his native Russian.
The sessions were informative, sure. But they were also entertaining. In explaining why everyone on a startup team should be able to pitch, Edzard said,
“If you’re talking to an investor and he says, ‘How much money do you need?’ you don’t say, ‘Hold on, I’ll get my CFO’ unless you’re Siamese twins.”
Along those lines, Eric told one team, “Never tell a billionaire you have enough money.”
While HighTechXL executives and acceleration managers didn’t see any teams that fit the accelerator’s criteria, scouting wasn’t particularly the reason we created Give Back Monday.
“For our personal gain, of course it’s better to have more deep-tech teams. But if you simply want to give back to the community and help young starters,” Edzard said.
“I believe we added quite a lot of value to them.”
We polled our teams about the event. Here’s what they said:
• Business development, finance and storytelling were the main areas where the startups needed the most help, and that's where they got most of their advice from HighTechXL.
• No question, storytelling is a challenge. Each team or attendee gave a 1-minute introductory pitch, and Edzard reminded them to not overwhelm prospective investors with info.
“Don’t give away all your secrets. People can’t process that much information. Tease me the right way. Leave me intrigued.”
Besides storytelling, most still needed to validate their concepts to see if there even is a product-market fit, he added.
“But focusing on storytelling, a lot skip the intro/problem to over-explain their product. So, help finding a storyline that people can relate to and addresses problem, solution and call to action,” he said.
“If you’re uncomfortable, you’re learning. Get on stage. The 10th time you’ll be better. The 50th time, you’ll be great.”
• Nick Nedelchuck rated the IP section as most useful because Localie uses artificial intelligence to customize travel experiences: “That’s the future of travel.”
• Think clearly about what your idea is and prepare a well-presented, 1-minute pitch as well as an outline of what it is you do.
“For some teams it took longer to explain exactly what they were doing, therefore taking up a lot of time,” Edzard said. “If they really thought through what it is, they want to do and prepare a concise story … it would be a big step forward.”
Another tip would be to get in touch with us before the next GBM to double-check that we indeed can give you advice depending on the industry you want to focus on.
We will hold another Give Back Monday on 21 January, 2019 at our new office at High Tech Plaza, Building 27, on High Tech Campus. You can register for the event here.
Looking back from the questionnaire, I had 7 responses, and all were very positive. Everyone felt we had managed to give advice they were looking for even if they weren't a deep-tech start-up (I guess due to their really early stage).
Two-thirds said they would return next time, and 100 percent would recommend it to others. Two-thirds of the teams also felt our event helped them to kick/re-kick start their business idea.
Overall, they were happy and would prefer to come again to gain even more one-on-one advice.
This month I will create the format for the next event to make sure we can be as helpful with the time we have as possible.
Mehmet Ali Anil
Rachelle van Andel
Eric Broekhuizen, COO and Program Director
Jošt Faganel, Corporate Program Manger
Kimon Kodossis, !X Creative Director
Betsy Lindsey, Managing Director and Investor Relations
Edzard Janssens, Acceleration Manager
Luis de Oliveira, Acceleration Manager
Nikki Schreurs, Event Manager
Helena Samodurova, trainee and organizer