The Match Made in Heaven: Startup Weekend Amsterdam meets MakerLab

From helping companies meet their innovation sweet spot, MakerLab teamed up with SWAmsterdam to make the 2016 edition the best so far. Not only helped making the event happen by sponsoring it, but also deserved a spot in the jury to decide who the big winner of this year is.

Founded in 2011 here in Amsterdam, MakerLab was created with the ambition of making companies getting out of a slow motion pace and elevate them to bring better solutions to their customers. Their mission is two folded: not only help in the ideation by focusing on giving people the time and space to do so but also helping them turn ideas into something valuable. With a hands-on approach, they are not afraid of getting work done, working close with their clients to find the best opportunities out there.


The innovation lab – as they call it – puts the end-user at the center of the whole process, working their way with him. They believe co-creation is key to create solutions that solve the customers’ problems and tap their needs and this is only achieved through iteration. More important than going through the process, is to learn from it. The best solutions are those that were adjusted over and over until hitting the perfect spot.

It’s because of all these features that make it the perfect match for SWAmsterdam. Even though MakerLab is focused on the corporate side, Joris van Heukelom sees it has a bridge between that side and the talents at SW. Luckily we have him on board with us to be a part of our jury panel for the pitches at the end of the event. And he does have higher expectations from this edition. Being it focused on a theme, Education, he believes that it brings participants which truly understand the current problems and how they can be solved: “they’ll spot the right angle from a business perspective and come up with something better”.

We believe the same and can’t wait for tomorrow show time!

Big ideas, inspiration and action in Education, 15 – 20 April

Big ideas, inspiration and action! Amsterdam will be buzzing with events on innovation in education from 15-20 April. TEDxAmsterdamED, Startup Weekend and Professional Rebel will combine three great events supporting and connecting new ideas in education.

Under the banner #BornToLearn TEDxAmsterdamED will conclude the week with talks from thought leaders and innovators in the education world. This will take participants on a journey of learning with a particular focus on how learning is connected from ‘the cradle to the grave’.

Before this, the events will kick off a group of professionals and decision-makers in education hopping on their bikes. They will meet some of the frontrunners of the EdTech startup scene in Amsterdam during the The Future of Education Tour on 15 April. This will start with a keynote talk at THNK and allow participants to meet various education startups throughout the day, such as Bomberbot, Konnektid & ProctorExam. They’ll learn how startups think and act while cycling from one location to the next.

Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015

The inspirational bike tour will lead straight into a jam-packed weekend. With the motto: “No Talk, All Action” Startup Weekend helps people to take their first steps to become an entrepreneur. At a Startup Weekend event you turn a new idea into a startup in just 54 hours. For this occasion, Startup Weekend is organizing an event focused on new ideas in education. Hosted at the inspiring location of WeWork Startup Weekend Amsterdam will bring together over 80 education changemakers, developers, designers and business specialists working on new startup ideas. The teams will pitch their ideas again on Sunday evening to a jury of both education and startup experts.

Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2014

There are still plenty of opportunities for you to be part of these events and come on a week-long journey of learning. See you there?!

Startup Weekend EDU: Friday 15-17 April 2016
The Future of Education Tour: Friday 15 April 2016
TEDx AmsterdamED: Wednesday 20 April 2016

Catching up with KiekeBox. Winner of Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015

We Interviewed Janneke from winning team (KiekeBox) of Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015.See what she have to say about the event.

KiekeBox is a monthly craft, experiments and games Box for kids between the age of 4-8. Every month there is a new theme with new activities for hours of fun and crafting. All the materials needed for at least 6 activities are provided in the box. Inside the KiekeBox you can find the KiekeBox magazine with all the step by step illustrations that kids need to follow. The goal is to educate kids around different themes such as Space, Penguins and Igloos and Safari. Kids will explore the world through hands-on play and activities. Ideal for busy parents that like to do fun activities with their kids, but do not have the time and lack creativity to come up with something different every week.

How did startup weekend help you making your idea into a product?

I got a lot of feedback, tips, more ideas and I realised that i had to focus on getting something to the market fast to test whether people will buy. Start with the basic, if it works you can always add features.

Kiekebox is an educational startup, What are your thoughts about a Startup Weekend Education being organized in Amsterdam?

I think it is nice, although there is a lot of focus on moving to digital/tech education startups. Off course I try to focus more on that kids do not turn to the iPad and digital activities, but to explore the world through hands-on play. I think there is a lot to gain/innovate in education, that there is a lot that can be improved, I have also another idea that I think would be really nice to test during this weekend, however it has been too busy to be able to do that now.

How did mentors help you during Startup Weekend?

They challenged me to really go out and test, not to be shy but to really do it. To be honest to yourself and to sometimes help with the balance within the team.

What advise you do have for upcoming Startup Weekend attendees?

I think it is very different going as an attendee or joining with “your”
idea. But in general, listen to each other. When you join an idea that you find interesting also really listen to what has been done already, off course challenge but try to focus on 1 idea and really test it through the weekend to get a clear understanding of the idea is promising or really needs to change drastically. As a “owner” of the idea less is more, you don’t need a huge team, you need the right people in your team. Try to be a bit selective in the beginning, you will profit from it the rest of the weekend.


Join us for Startup Weekend EDU Amsterdam 2016

Buy tickets to out next event here.

Hello Amsterdam, Are you ready for Startup Weekend Education?

After 7 straight years of Startup Weekend Amsterdam we are proud to bring an exciting themed event: Startup Weekend Education Amsterdam for our enthusiast community where educators, designers, developers, and marketeers will get together to pitch ideas in order to innovate the way we educate ourselves, form teams and launch startups in just 54 hours. Guided by experienced mentors you can take a peek into what it’s like be an entrepreneur and launch a startup.

No idea, no problem!

Startup Weekend is for everybody who wants to join. Even if you don’t have a startup idea or any prior experience you can still join, learn, have fun and start building a business together.

The weekend promises to be a unique high energy startup experience.


Why Education?

Over the last 5 years the education industry has had a huge wake up call. We realised that the way we educate ourselves and our next generation need to rapidly change. We want to bring together new innovators with new ideas, technologies and business models to bring our education a step further.

Whether you found a company, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside your usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.

Click here to view the embedded video.

How do I signup? Get your ticket: here (be quick, there are a few early birds)

More info? Take look at the Startup Weekend website

See you the 15th of April!!

Interview with mentor: Kasper Brandi Petersen

We’re happy to introduce another awesome mentor to you. He’s Kasper Brandi Petersen, co-founder of The Cloakroom. Kasper will help you with turning your idea into a complete business and help you execute it.

We’ve interviewed Kapser for our community. Read what he have to say:

Why is entrepreneurship important to you?

Entrepreneurship is a creative craftsmanship and building organisations and products are simply put the most exciting thing in the world. To me it’s not about saving the world or making a difference – it’s just about starting something from scratch and growing it to something big and special.

How can you help our participants as a mentor?

I love to turn a loose idea into a commercial business plan. My role in our startup very much revolves around spotting great ideas in all corners of our offices, breaking it down into specific deliverables, and make sure we execute on it.

What kind of ideas are you looking forward to see at this year’s event?

I’m obsessed with any kind of online-based service that removes friction from people’s everyday life. I believe in a combination of efficiency boosting algorithms and personalised human curation and service.

What is the most important lesson you want to give to our participants?

Don’t overthink your concept – it’s going to change anyway. Execution and assembling the right team is the key differentiator.

Why should someone with a business idea join to Startup Weekend?

To get your idea tested and validated and to meet people you might end up doing extraordinary things with in the future.

Why should people participate in Startup Weekend even if they don’t have an idea?

To get inspired and to test your own skills within ideation and execution.

How to Rock your 1 minute pitch?

More than 50% of participants join startup weekend to bring their idea of the next big thing to life. If you are part of those 50% and you want to take your idea to next level, first thing you’ll have to do is to learn how to pitch like a Rockstar.

You’ll have 60 seconds before our facilitator will take the microphone from your hand or even Rugby tackle you off the stage. These 60 seconds sounds like a lot but once you take that stage, the clock ticks 10 times faster. Here are some essential tips for your elevator pitch. Your pitch should consist of these main elements: Who are you, what’s the Problem,  what’s your solution/idea, who do you need to complete your team?

Now distribute some time slots to these elements. Let’s start with easy one first.


Who are you?  

Come up with a one liner of who you are. You don’t have enough time to tell your whole background story. This one liner should include your name and what do you do. Take a pen and paper and write this down. Now add some humour to it to make your audience remember who you are. For example, I usually say “Hi, I’m Khizar. Developer by profession and crazy by nature”. This kind of sentence will generate laughter around the room and will also draw your audience’s attention to what you’re going to say next. This will only take you less than 5 seconds if you execute it well.

The Problem?

This part is as important as your idea. Describe the problem that you’re trying to solve. If you don’t have a problem to solve, you might lose interest from other participants. Think about what problem you’re trying to solve and write it on paper. Narrow it down to 3-5 sentences. Boom! you have it. practice to execute the description to your problem in under 20 seconds.

The Solution or The Idea?

This is the part everyone is waiting for and this is the part everyone will remember the most from your pitch so start it with a bang. Present it to your audience like it is the next big thing. I once heard someone pitch “I want to launch a Rocket”. a bit ambitious but tell me, would you forget that pitch easily? So once again write down your idea on paper and narrow it down to 2-3 sentences. Now add an explosive element to it that everyone will remember. Practice to execute it under 25 seconds.

Who do you need?

You’re pitching at the startup weekend podium so you need to attract team members to get your idea off the ground. This is also an important part so don’t forget it. Just like the introduction, keep it a one liner with an element of enthusiasm to it. For example “I need developers, designers and dreamers like me to make it possible”. Not bad is it? Keep it under 5 seconds as well.

Now combine the whole pitch and try to execute it under 50 seconds. What do you need another 10 seconds for? Once you pitch your pitch will be on a voting ballot which will also have a number on it. So use those 10 seconds to say out loud your pitch number. Something simple like “I’m pitch number 22 and will be looking forward to your love in form of votes, Cheers”.

Practice makes perfect, so practice your pitch in front of a mirror, friends or even your dog to make it perfect.

Mentor Spotlight: Bram Kanstein

Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015 is just around the corner. With only one more month to go exciting developments are happening around the event. Last time we introduced Lauren Valbert to you as our mentor and we are back with another exciting person as an addition to mentor team.

Meet Bram Kanstein. He is the European community manager of Product Hunt – Just before joining Product Hunt, Bram built and launched Startup Stash, “A curated directory of 400 resources and tools to help you build your Startup”. The site went viral through Product Hunt and got 35K unique visits and 230K page views in 48 hours. Startup Stash is currently the #1 most up voted product of all-time on Product Hunt.

We Interview Bram for our awesome community with respect to upcoming Startup Weekend Amsterdam.

How can you help our participants as a mentor?

I know a lot about startups that are out there and the problems they are trying to solve. I can help the teams sharpen their idea and give them examples of existing products that are similar/in the same space. Also, I think I can help them focus on the core of the product and define what their MVP should look like.

What kind of ideas are you looking forward to see at this year’s event?

It would be awesome if someone came and pitched a product that solves a small problem, but which is high in demand. So a solution to an urgent problem, or of course something with beer.

Why is entrepreneurship important to you?

Taking initiative and building something that solves other people’s problems is something I really admire. Plus I love discovering new startups and products so the more entrepreneurship the better

What is the most important lesson you want to give to our participants?

For me, ideas are born out of your experiences, your problems, your victories, stuff you see, stuff that inspires, big companies, but also small ones. How can you reach a point where you have an idea that’s truly interesting and worth chasing? And what do you do next? That’s something I hope I can help the participants with.

Why someone with a business idea should come to Startup Weekend?

Because it’s an awesome journey with awesome energy and the best place to find likeminded people that may be able to get you further along with your idea.

Why should people participate in Startup Weekend even if they don’t have an idea?

Same as above, it’s a great place to find likeminded people to connect with, and find someone that has an awesome idea you’d like to work on!

Buy your ticket for the event here!

Interview with Startup Weekend Mentor: Lauren Valbert

We are proud to bring back and introduce to you one of our mentors, Lauren Valbert. 

Lauren helps businesses with customer development, business development, and marketing. Customer centrism is the philosophy behind the company’s focus: how do companies attract, retain, and motivate the customers that will make their business successful and profitable?

She works with companies to create customer profiles, which then are tested and validated, and which can then be used to build growth-oriented business and product development strategies. She has had her fair share of helping businesses bloom.

We had a chance to interview her for Startup Weekend.

How many Startup Weekends have you mentored at?

This is going to be my 5th startup weekend in total and 3rd in Amsterdam.

Which participant team made the biggest impression on you?

It has to be a team from Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2014 which tried and pivoted a lot over the weekend and ended up talking about their learning process and failure on Sunday night pitch.

We as human beings and as a society are focused on success and results only but what I liked about that team is that their experience focused on the learning process itself and the fact that exposing vulnerability can help other people learn.

What makes you come back to Startup Weekend Amsterdam every year?

I love the whole concept of startup weekend. I love the team of dedicated individuals behind Startup Weekend Amsterdam and the fact that it is ran voluntarily is a testament to the energy and the passion that the team brings. The structure itself is weird, chaotic and energized rather than something which is too structured and boring. So for me it is tiring but also very energizing and fun.

How can you help our participants as a mentor?

Helping all size of companies develop ideas is part of my daily work, especially with regards to their customers. My expertise is related to how an idea is related to a customer, on every level: from ideation to validation to successfully launching the product or service.

What I will bring is the customers perspective to what participants will be building. You may think your idea is great but I’m going to look at it from a customer’s point of view and help you develop it further.

What kind of ideas are you looking forward to see at this year’s event?

I’m looking forward to Social Entrepreneurship ideas, ideas which can impact our community and people. Ideas which can transform ways to share information which is offline as well as online to make people’s life better. I don’t think most of us need any more products, what we need to do is figure out better ways to communicate, connect, share and impact each other’s world.

What is the most important lesson you want to give to our participants?

The weekend is not about ending up with a successful idea, its about learning and allowing yourself to fail. I would say come in and be prepared to fail.

Why should people participate in Startup Weekend even if they don’t have an idea?

There are two kind of people at this event; people with great ideas and people who help them actually make those ideas happen. I myself am the latter type as I don’t have great ideas by myself but I’ve great skills supporting those people bring ideas to life. Supporting and bringing ideas to life is actually much more fun. It really stretches you creatively and i think those people are more important than the people with ideas. I see those people as a major asset to Startup Weekend.

Looking forward to our coming event? Buy your tickets soon.

Buy your Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015 Ticket Now!

Interview with Our Sponsor: Rockstart

Startup Weekend Amsterdam welcomes back one of the sponsors from last year to the event again: Rockstart


Rockstart gives startups rock-solid support in their first 1000 days. Since 2012, Rockstart has helped startups from all over the world grow faster. With 2 accelerator programs has helped more than 40 startups take off and created over 250 jobs. Besides accelerator, other initiatives like Rockstart Spaces, Answers and Impact are also part of Rockstart.

We interviewed Don Ritzen, co-founder and Managing Director of Rockstart Accelerator.

What history do you have with Startup weekend?


The idea of Rockstart also came out of Startup Weekend which we organised for first time in 2009. I participated a Startup Weekend event in Copenhagen and my team won the weekend and afterwards we had members of jury and VC’s coming up to us and saying they’d like to invest, which was mind blowing. The startup continued, raised $2 millions and went to Silicon Valley, I couldn’t go with them. Here in Netherlands Startup Weekend has such an energetic effect that people that win the event or form a very nice team they sometimes quit their jobs right after the weekend but what I noticed is that they struggled to find launching customers or investors. I thought we should have something as a next step after startup weekend. We didn’t have anything like that in Netherlands and no one was doing it so I decided to do it, and met my co-founder Oscar Kneppers at Startup Weekend and together we launched Rockstart.

Why is entrepreneurship important to you?

I think it challenges you to make the most out of yourself and it gives you freedom and autonomy to make your own path. To create something when there’s only a idea is there on paper and make it come to life is the best feeling there is and everyone at Startup Weekend feels that because they start with nothing on Friday evening and they make something out of it by Sunday evening and that is why it’s such a powerful event and I think that is also the essence of entrepreneurship.

What effects SW has on ecosystem of city or country?

It has a big effect on people who join the event; after such a weekend they realise that the idea they have been walking around is not so difficult to implement and together with Sunday evening pitches guests the energy that is in the room on Sunday evening is something you won’t see at other events and that energy spreads across the city, infects other people and encourage them to join the event or do entrepreneurial things on their own.

Why someone with a business idea should come to Startup Weekend Amsterdam?

It simply is the best platform to take your idea to next step. You can keep it to yourself and grow it in your own time but when you start to share, it gets better. With more thoughts and different point of views make something improve. People who have ideas usually don’t do something with them and some years later at some dinner party they say ‘look at the company who raised another 5 million, i had same idea 2 years ago’. Startup weekend is a platform which allows you to do something with your ideas.

Why should people with full time jobs come to Startup weekend even if they don’t want to build their own company?

You leave the weekend very energetic with a lot of ideas and insights in terms of how to do your job differently or better. For example working with business model canvas or working with different people you don’t normally work with gives you a different approach to the usual way of working and that brings a lot of improvement.

Why you decided to sponsor?

It is about giving back  to Startup Weekend as I got a lot from it, it brought be where I am today. I think its nice to have other people have the same experience which i had.

Looking forward to our coming event? Buy your tickets soon. Early Birds Sold Out.

Buy your Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015 Ticket Now!

Hey Amsterdam, ready for another round of Startup Weekend?

For the 6th straight year 100 startup enthusiasts, designers, developers, and marketeers will get together to pitch ideas, form teams and launch startups in just 54 hours. Guided by experienced mentors you can take a peek into what it’s like be an entrepreneur and launch a startup.

No idea, no problem!
Startup Weekend is for everybody who wants to join. Even if you don’t have a startup idea or any prior experience you can still join, learn, have fun and start building a business together.

The weekend promises to be a unique high energy startup experience.

Over the last 5 years more than 600 attendees have gone through the startup weekend experience bringing in some cool startups to Amsterdam. Last years winner Bucket Buddies has gone successfully through the StartupNext program and are still in full stride building the company.

Looking for a reason to join? Here is what last years winner has to say about it:

“As a newcomer to SW I went with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect but aiming to get to know local entrepreneurial minds, learn ‘lean’ and get some feedback on my idea. I got all this and more! Great connections, practical advice and the icing on the cake: momentum for my idea.” – Nick Graham, Founder Bucket Buddies

How do I signup? Get your ticket: here (be quick, there are a few early birds)
More info? Take look at the Startup Weekend website 

See you the 5th of June!!  

Pin It on Pinterest