We usually see those people from the distance (well, good for you if you get the front row seats!), covered in a bright light and attention. They are dashing, eloquent, well-experienced, witty and ready for any questions to hit the floor. Have youever wondered what do those keynote speakers do, or think for that matter, once they get off the stage and head for the beer at the reception?
Pleasure to introduce you to our speaker Vincent Hoogsteder, the co-founder of Distimo, the free app analytics platform for developers. On Friday, 13 November, Vincent is going to talk about the happy, but not so easy years while developing Distimo into a startup with 6 offices worldwide, which he eventually sold to the company in San Francisco in 2014.
So make sure you are on Friday (13th November) at Jaarbeurs to listen to Vincent! In the meantime, we had a chance to ask him some blitz questions which can give you a better view of what a top-notch entrepreneur looks like.
Vincent, who is your role model (career- and/or lifestyle-wise)?
My parents. They’ve been running their own company for close to 40 years, steering it successfully to good and pretty bad times. They’ve shown to me that I can be an entrepreneur working with rolled-up sleeves and with a lot of enthusiasm. While working hard 6 days a week, they still find a way to let family always come first.
What is the most comprehensive book about startups that you have read?
Two books actually. Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One”. I love his angle that a startup is better off going after a small market and creating a monopoly, rather than diving into a very big market first. In a small market, the startup can get its foot on the ground quickly. It can get a significant market share and just later move into the adjacent markets. Another book is “Rework” written by the founders of the software company “37 Signals”. They remind you that there are more ways to grow a startup successfully instead of putting people behind their screens for 14 hours a day.
In your opinion, what are 3 personal traits that are necessary to launch and run a startup?
Enthusiasm. You have to believe honestly that what you do is great and love the field you are in. And you’d better, because it won’t be just apples and carrots. This helps you convince others, build and steer a team and keep yourself on track while you are doing it.
Self-discipline. No one is going to tell you how hard you need to work. No one is going to check up on you when/if finished things. And no one is going to supervise you when you do the most difficult parts.
Optimism. Don’t think too much about the 120 things that can go wrong. Rather follow your gut-feeling which usually tells you the right hint that you are after something.
What is the most impressive startup you’ve seen/heard of so far?
I’m very impressed with GitLab. They’ve been a very small team, totally self-funded building for years a product that 100,000 organizations are using today. At the right time they saw their traction and in no time moved to Silicon Valley, went into YCombinator and raised a serious funding from A-list VCs. Now they are scaling up very quickly, and are not afraid to go after some big and heavily funded competitors. They all do this while being a completely remote and open company. Amazing!
Why did you launch a startup?
While studying at university, a customer from my dad’s store asked if maybe his son, who was already doing something in IT, knew how to build a webshop. My coding skills were not so pretty, and many fellow students where a lot better at it than me. Together with a friend, we quickly decided to try to sell a website to this person. We thought: “If he buys the idea, we’ll find later some good students to build it”. So we did sell the idea in the end. Thus, we ended up running several startups while still studying. This was so much fun, I have been poised with the startup virus ever since. The coolest thing about running a startup is that you control the wheel. If you wake-up with the feeling you should go left, you grab a cup of coffee and get to it. There are no politics, there is few delays. And the work you put in can lead to results really fast.
How does your Sunday look like?
It’s starts early with our one year old son jumping on our bed. On an ideal Sunday, my girlfriend and I cycle with him through beautiful Amsterdam and meetup with friends for an afternoon beer in the Vondeltuin.
Thank you, Vincent, for sharing some parts of your life with us! We can feel that you have been carrying the “startup fever” since you were a student.
Do you want to get into the contagious startup world too? Grab the last ticketshere to our 54-hour long idea generation and execution marathon on 13-15 November.