Meet the Mentors of Startup Weekend Zwolle (Part 1)

At Startup Weekend Zwolle, Mentors provide actionable advice and valuable insights, help to design the experiments and guide participants in building a strong business foundation. Sharing their competence, knowledge and aspiration, Mentors will bring out the best of your team!

So we’re very pleased to have these mentors on board at Startup Weekend Zwolle:

Sebastiaan Heijne

Signkick Co-founder Sebastiaan Heijne is a London-based Dutch entrepreneur with 15 years of e-commerce experience and a lifetime of passion for technology.

His specialties: Entrepreneurship, Sales strategy, Growth Hacking, Coding, e-commerce, Outdoor advertising

In his spare time, he currently advises & supports the Dutch government, he provides mentoring at numerous accelerators, guides some cool startups, teaches at the HULT university and is quite often a speaker to warn – sorry… inspire budding new entrepreneurs!

Arjan Yspeert

Arjan Yspeert is an Internet marketeer with a broad experience in the use of offline marketing tools as well. Travels up and down between strategy, tactical and operational activities.

Tactics and operations meaning traffic and conversion improvement for websites and apps: seo, sea, linkbuilding, affiliate, e-mailshots, social media campaigning and the likes.

Deeply interested in mentoring internet start-ups (webapps) as they ‘blow his mind’. He loves to see young, bright developers, designers and marketeers come together in an effort to improve software and take the world by storm.

Elmar Weber

Elmar is the CTO and Co-Founder of Cupenya, a company that enables companies to provide better customer support through immediate answers. He works since over 10 years with everything, tech and a focus on big data and machine learning.

Elmar attended multiple Startup Weekends and won the 2014 Startup Weekend Utrecht with the Greenbricks team and is looking forward to share his experience as a mentor this year.

In his spare time he plays golf and works on open source project to sharpen his handicap and coding skills.

20 Reasons why you should attend Startup Weekend Zwolle

You might have heard about Startup Weekend already. Or you would like to attend one, but you’re not sure if Zwolle is the place to go.

So you probably think: why ON EARTH should I attend Startup Weekend in Zwolle?

Well, we’ve been thinking about this too 🙂 That’s why we’re pleased to share 20 great reasons to attend Startup Weekend Zwolle 2017:

  1. Meet the right people: Organizers, mentors and participants at Startup Weekends are people willing to give up an entire weekend to aim for a higher purpose, sharing their ideas & know-how and collaborate with others. This is just great if you’re looking for people who can help you building a new business.
  2. Education on the go: Startup Weekends are all about learning by doing, whether you’re learning a new skill or a new way of thinking. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go. These are 21st skills, baby!
  3. Join a global community: If you attend Startup Weekend Zwolle, you will automatically join the global Startup Weekend community. You can hardly imagine how incredible valuable this will be: you’ll be able to connect with community leaders and subject matter experts all over the world. Basicly you will feel as joining an new startup family with people willing to “give first”.
  4. Access to great resources: By participating in Startup Weekend Zwolle you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves Startup Weekend empty handed! Click here to learn more about some of the offers our Global Sponsors provide during the event.
  5. Great mentors: Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends and give feedback to participants. Interact with the movers and shakers in your community.
  6. Be the first: This year, Startup Weekend celebrates its 10th year anniversary. Many cities have held a Startup Weekend already – but this year is the very first edition of Startup Weekend Zwolle. So, this might sound a little weird, you’ll have bragging rights if join us 🙂
  7. Kick your own ass: Are you thinking about your idea for a very long time? Startup Weekend gives you a real kick up the ass. You’ll leave Startup Weekend Zwolle buzzing with creative energy. In fact, on average 80% of attendees wants to continue with their startups after the weekend. So after 2 days you realise you can really achieve a lot if you just put your mind to it.
  8. Validate your ideas: A startup Weekend offers your various levels of validation. First up it is the attendees as a whole that choose which ideas make it through to the “finals”, so right off the bat you are getting a good poll of smart people as to whether your idea is any good or not! At Startup Weekend Cologne for example, about 30 ideas have been pitched and 12 are selected to be worked on, so right away you know whether your idea resonates with people. If your idea does make it through, then you will be pitching on the Sunday to a panel of judges, typically the judges award 1st 2nd and 3rd placings, so if you were to finish in the top 3 you’d really know you were on to something!
  9. Meet your co-founder: Most people who attend a Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups. So you can create relationships that last long past the weekend – and you might meet your co-founder here.
  10. Have fun: During the weekend working alongside awesome people who share your ideas. Startup Weekend is meant to be fun and entertaining so enjoy it.
  11. Solve local problems: Do you think that one of your idea can change Zwolle or have a positive impact in your group of people? Bring your idea notebook with you and start making a positive change in your local community. Besides this, most local challenges also apply to other places, so keep in mind you can scale up as well.
  12. Recruit new people: Startup Weekend usually attracts highly educated (young) professionals, great designers, IT specialists such as developers and people with entrepreneurial minds. So if you’re eager to get in touch with them, Startup Weekend is the place to be.
  13. Learn new skills: Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or give guerrilla marketing a try. With nothing to lose there’s no reason not to step outside your comfort zone.
  14. Learn how to launch a business: Startup Weekend is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology. In just 2 days, you’ll learn the essentials about launching a new business.
  15. Try a new cider: Perhaps you already know that Startup Weekend Zwolle is sponsored by Heineken. But I guess you don’t know you can try their new cider as well.
  16. Save a lot of money: Startup Weekends are very, very affordable (about € 85 for a regular ticket). Your ticket includes seven meals, snacks, and all the coffee you can drink. Compare this to any typical business event and you know what I’m talking about. Startup Weekend gives you a lot more value for your money!
  17. Enjoy gadgets & tech stuff: At Startup Weekend Cologne, I met a Dutch entrepreneur wearing a new pair of Spectacles. So you can expect attendees to bring all kind of gadgets and new stuff they use for business – of just for fun. Although this should not be your primairy reason to attend a Startup Week, it’s pretty cool, especially if you like new stuff.
  18. Prizes: Winners of Startup Weekend Zwolle will get great prices. We understand you’re curious about it, but we can assure these prices will help the winning team to take their ideas to the NEXT LEVEL!
  19. Great facilitator: At Startup Weekend Cologne, some greek guy called Stavros Messinis was facilitating the event. And he did an amazing job, so we asked him to join in Zwolle. And we’re very happy to share he will be our facilitator.
  20. The city: Of course, there’s no way to compare Zwolle to New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam or even Cologne 🙂 Nonetheless, our city has a lot to offer: nice working places, excellent public transport, great sporting facilities, plenty educationial possibilities, social initiatives, great events all year long, a beautiful city centre, an healthy environment and nice people. The region of Zwolle also performs at the top-3 economic regions in the Netherlands.

So, what are you waiting for?

Click here to claim your ticket.

Got any questions? Please contact us at or text us at Whatsapp: +31 6 83 86 96 22.

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Dutch Startup Founder about international growth: “Are your customers willing to pay?”

Dutch Startup Founder about international growth

A lot of Startup entrepreneurs dream about conquering the world with their product. But competition is everywere – so what should you do in order to grow? What challenges will you face? I think it’s a good idea to ask Jorrit Baerends, Startup Founder of Adpiler, serial entrepreneur and member of the Launchlab community.

#1 What is Adpiler?

Adpiler is the world’s first platform that not only shows banners to customers, but also manages the feedback processs. Banner designers and creative agences use Adpiler to display ads in a professional way to their customers. They present banners within the context of real websites – such as New York Times. Within this context, customers can give direct feedback. This prevents a lot of email messages between designers and customers. So Adpiler users save a lot of time, on average 3 hours per banner set.

#2 Why did you start with Adpiler?

Via Adcrowd, a self-service retargeting platform I founded years ago, I am connected to a lot of online marketing agencies. I noticed how much time designer spend to agree with customers about a set of online ads. Both designers and accountmanagers spend a lot of time collecting customer feedback. I was very surprised there wasn’t any tool to improve this process. So I came up with the idea to create one myself and therefore I developed a new platform. With Adpiler, the design process is more streamlined and a lot shorter.

#3 What challenges did you face?

My biggest challenge in development was usability for all kind of online banners. Customer are using different advertentising networks – such as Doubleclick or Sizmek. Every network has its own features for banners. I was a real challenge to make Adpiler suitable for all these different banners, regardless which network they’re made for. I’m very happy we found a solution for this problem.

Biggest challenge in marketing and sales is reaching the right audience. Customer who found us, are very satisfied and enthusiastic. However it’s pretty hard to get in touch with banner designers and creative directors. After testing different marketing strategies, we choose Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and Content Marketing to fuel growth.

#4 What should Startup Founders do to grow their business?

My best advice would be: think global, act global. If you have a true startup, your business is scalable. So it makes no sence to limit your scope just to The Netherlands or just to Europe. Take a close look at countries were your customers come from. Try to understand what customers are willing to pay for your product. At Adpiler, we focus on Western countries, because we know they are more willing to pay for using our platform.

This interview was first published in Dutch at Launchlab – The Techstart Community

From participant to mentor: “Great connections, positive vibe and … the second place!”


Startup Weekend brings together all kinds of people. No matter how different we are, our intention is the same – to improve, to learn, to socialize. However, not everyone wins, and not everyone comes back again to share what they have learnt during the past year. I am happy to introduce Guilherme, our delegated Mentor and, proud to say, a successful entrepreneur. His participation at Startup Weekend brought him valuable connections, which are now essential for his business growth. Over the years his business faced ups n’ downs, and now he is willing to share some advices, based on his personal experience. Enjoy reading his journey at Startup Weekend, and do not forget to write down some useful tips for your own. 

So, tell us something about your participation at SwUtrecht’16…

I had a very positive overall experience. I have met a lot of talented people out there, including participants who already own businesses. Also, I was very pleased with the high paced program. There was a high amount of energy floating around the group of young and ambitious people. I had fun talking with everyone and I liked the competitive element of the program.

What was your motivation for attending the event?

I really wanted to meet entrepreneurial like-minded people as well as to be inspired by new ideas and concepts.

Could you introduce your pitching idea, or should I name it ExamenOverzicht now?

Not exactly. At Startup Weekend last year, I worked with a team on an app that helps people find the perfect roommate. The app was called Roomie and our team ended up in a second place, which was great. But in everyday life, I am the owner of, a platform that helps Dutch high school students prepare for their final exams.

What did you gain out of the event?

I am very happy that I have partnered with a great team of Coffee IT people who are now building a new web app and mobile hybrid app for ExamenOverzicht. The new app will provide high value for our customers and help us grow the business.

What about the atmosphere there?

In one word: energetic! The atmosphere was fun and vibrant, there was a contagious positive vibe and competitive spirit. I am really looking forward to be inspired again by the upcoming edition of Startup Weekend!

As far as we know, this year you come back as a mentor. Sounds great! How come?

I have become a big fan of the event and would like to act as an ambassador for Startup Weekend. I hope that my business experience will add value for beginning entrepreneurs.

Many potential entrepreneurs struggle at the beginning of their business journey, so to say. Do you have any advice for our starters, based on your own experience?

I do! Here are some practical tips:

  • The best way to get a startup idea, is not to brainstorm, but to focus on finding a solution to a personal frustration. If you are frustrated by something, chances are someone else is also frustrated about it.
  • When you have an idea, convert it into a product by building a test version – the basic concept of your product, just to get a feedback. I would agree with Reid Hoffman, who said “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you launched too late”.
  • Gather as much feedback as you can, and improve the product continuously. You are on the right track if customer’s feedback slowly shifts from ‘things to improve’ to compliments.
  • Choose your business partners wisely. You will work with them for years (hopefully), so make sure you know them well before you start an adventure together.
  • Making the right choices. When you start to earn money, don’t spend it on luxurious things you don’t need, but instead invest that money back into your company.
Any business goals for this year?

This year’s goal for my website is to triple in revenue again, as we have done every year over the last 4 years. Our main objective is to be the number 1 platform to help high school students graduate for their final exam in 2020.

  • Want to win? Get ready!
  • Want to improve public speaking skills? Read this!
  • Get to know your Mentor: Part 1 and Part 2!

Build your own experience! Get more advices on how to become a successful entrepreneur!

Your ticket is here!

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Your pitch CAN be funny!

Are you hesitating to do a pitch at Startup Weekends? You should NOT any longer! With the help of this guy, David Nihill, you will become a pro in winning the audience’s attention and sympathy. I loved his talk at Google HQ in Dublin, and his book is also very helpful.

Workshop: How to Become a Better and Funnier Speaker?

The interesting fact is that David Nihill was terrified about public speaking. After years of studies and experiences, he returned confident and.. funny! Now he performs at multiple stand-up routines and story telling competitions in front of big audiences. Inspired by this story, I would like to remind you, that everything is possible, just believe in yourself!

David Nihill: “Do You Talk Funny?” 

  • Want to win? Read this!
  • Need some tips for your business? Enjoy!
  • Get to know our Mentors: Part 1 and Part 2!

Ready for your own stand-up? Do not hesitate any longer and join our stage in Utrecht in November 2017!

Get your ticket here!

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From business idea to successful startup: how did I win Startup Weekend Utrecht

Startup Weekend creates opportunity to learn, connect, develop and spend some quality time together with like-minded individuals. However, we all expect it to be more than just a weekend. Probably you have asked yourself ‘Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Is my idea good enough? Should I actually try?’ . And guess what, you are not the only one. We could count loads of different public figures and successful CEOs who were only one decision away from a totally different life and a dream come true.

Put aside all the ‘what ifs’ and take a moment to hear a story from Tey – the owner of TYKN and the winner of Startup Weekend Utrecht’ 16. Sorry, not just a story, the success story, full of inspiration, faith and great memories – enough to make you to make your own decision. Enjoy!

Why did you join Startup Weekend Utrecht?

After working 4 years in the Netherlands, I became a Refugee. I am of Syrian Origins and was sitting in my room at the AZC of Zeist. So I thought to myself, why not go attend the event and participate? It was my first time ever pitching and never heard of Startup Weekend.

Could you describe the winning pitch?

On my driver license, it is written I was born in Unknown because I do not have a Birth Certificate. I was born in Kuwait and the Gulf War destroyed my certificate. After applying for asylum the stories of Refugees losing their documents was similar to mine. Since I am a Bitcoin Evangelist, then I saw the opportunities this technology can offer in solving this problem. By leveraging blockchain technology we are able to protect public records against permanent loss and unlawful changes.

Can you share your experiences and feelings from Startup Weekend Utrecht?

Food was lovely and the Mentors were always happy to answer our questions! I also liked the location and the cool BMWs there! However, it was intense two days. First I had the largest team, so managing them was a challenge. Second we had a diverse team and very young members. I had to explain the solution and Blockchain technology to all of my 10 teammates. Slowly we dived in the details of validation, business model canvas, and pitch practice!

How would you describe the atmosphere of the event?

Rich of surprises and a place to discover your limits. A place to discover what owning your own business is like for two days.

How did participation at Startup Weekend influence your business?

It gave us credibility and motivation to continue forward with our idea. We always present ourselves as winners of Startup Weekend Utrecht.  I would like to say thanks to the whole team that gave us the chance to change our lives and the lives of millions of people.

For whom would you advise to attend the event?

Everyone looking for a chance to succeed and believes in himself that he / she can do that!

Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs?

You will hear the word Roller Coaster a lot – it describes the emotional phases you go thru in the life cycle of your business venture. Well the word is not even close to get the real meaning… All in all, my advice – do what you love and you will never fail!

  • Want to improve public speaking skills? Read this!
  • Need some tips for your business? Enjoy!
  • Get to know our Mentors: Part 1 and Part 2!

If you feel like building your own success story, register NOW!

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Meet our Greatest Mentors (Part 1)

Startup Weekend Mentors are experienced entrepreneurs, investors, startup incubators & accelerators and multiple subjects experts who are definitely one of the key features of the event. During the weekend, Mentors provide actionable advises and valuable insights, help to design the experiments and guide new entrepreneurs in building a strong business foundation. Sharing their competence, knowledge and aspiration, Mentors will make sure your team has the right environment to unleash your potential.

Martijn Leinweber  

Space Business Innovation Centre

Martijn is a community manager at ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Noordwijk. He supports startups who are using space technology for down-to-earth applications. Passionate about startups, hospitality and sports. Martijn likes trying out new tools, experiment and learn new things.

Wendy Mensink

Co-founder & Chief Design Officer @RavenViridian

Wendy is a Dutch independent graphic designer who focuses on translating space missions and complex technical content to the public. Next to that, she’s co-founder and designer at Viridian Raven, an application that provides risk assessment for forest management against insect outbreaks, with the use of satellite data.

Jon Woodroof

Cycling Industry & B2B Sales Consultant

Bikes & Tech Since 09. Founder of @twotoneams. They help startups & cycling brands around the world with sales & PR. Also weekly #earlytobedearlytoshred with @rollcallams & co-organizer of @saleshackerams. Formerly Springest UK & @SpringestDE and led sales @BigNerdRanch in Europe.

Guilherme dos Santos

Entrepreneur @ExamenOverzicht

Guilherme is the founder of, a company changing the way Dutch students prepare for their final exams of high school. Prior to that, he was an IT Consultant at KPMG. Specialized in business modelling and leveraging strategic partnerships in order to gain traction. Born in Portugal and raised in the Netherlands.

  • Please get to know our other Mentors (Part 2)
  • Want to win ? Read this!
  • Want to improve public speaking skills? Right here!
  • Need some tips for your business? Enjoy!

Would you like to meet them in person? Have a business idea or simply want to build connections and learn new things?

Click HERE to find out more about the event

For other enquiries please contact us:


Meet our Greatest Mentors (Part 2)

Startup Weekend Mentors are experienced entrepreneurs, investors, startup incubators & accelerators and multiple subjects experts who are definitely one of the key features of the event. During the weekend Mentors provide actionable advises and valuable insights, help to design the experiments and guide new entrepreneurs on building a strong business foundation. Sharing their competence, knowledge and aspiration, Mentors will make sure your team has the right environment to unleash your potential.

Vincent Hosman

Country Manager @Foodora

Vincent Hosman is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Foodora, an on-demand restaurant delivery service, in The Netherlands. He is leading the team responsible for launching and scaling the business in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Eindhoven, Haarlem and Leiden. Prior to joining Foodora, Vincent was a Strategy Consultant at Accenture working across FMCG, Utilities, Technology and Energy industries. 

Melinda Jacobs

Entrepreneur and User Psychology Expert

Melinda S. Jacobs, M.A. is an entrepreneur and user experience expert specializing in changing behaviour through play and games. She started consulting and creating digital experiences for companies in 2011 and based on this passion she founded her own company Subatomic. She frequently gives talks and workshops on product design, gamification, and play around the world. In her free time she is an avid reader, beer brewer, and N7 paragon.

Ewoud Goorts

Co-founder & Head of Operations @FlorAccess

Ewoud is Founder and Head of Operations at, an online vertical marketplace for the horticulture industry, founded in 2010. Raised in the Netherlands and Spain. Lives to travel while sharing food with (new) friends. Specialized in platforms and product management.

Claartje Aarts

Director @Protospace

ProtoSpace is an innovationlab for early stage prototyping. With 3D printing/designing , industrial design and embedded software ProtoSpace has the skills and equipment to prototype almost all physical productideas. Claartje’s main focal points as director are strategy, co-design, partnerships and acquisition. Claartje has a background in commercial product development for innovative products.

Robert Keus 


Co-founded the creative agency @BrthrsAgency B.V. Robert is also responsible for the app Scheduled ( concept creation and overall product development. He has overseen the planning and successful execution of several high profile mobile products. A key example is Live TV, a mobile television app with over 1.000.000 downloads, also the Eneco Sun Simulator App.

Would you like to meet them in person? Have a business idea or simply want to build connections and learn new things?

Click HERE to find out more about the event

For other enquiries please contact us:


Have a look at our 1st Sponsor of Startup Weekend Zwolle!

hanz sponsor startup weekend zwolle

Finding a great location is one of the most important things you want to do when organizing a Startup Weekend. And we have succeeded to do just that! The 1st Edition of Startup Weekend Zwolle will be organized at Hanz, an inspiring place where innovation and connection go hand in hand.

The Hanz’ building is located in ‘Hanzeland’. Its location is almost perfect because of the nearby train station and connection to the highway. Besides that, the facilities are also pretty great.

sponsor startup weekend zwolle

However, these are certainly not the only things we took into consideration. We are also delighted by the mission and vision of Thijs van Dieren and Johan Neerhof, the men behind the realization and success of Hanz.

Putting their ideas into action, Thijs and Johan wanted to create the perfect playground for innovation: an inspiring place where entrepreneurs, government and education would meet eachother and connect with their environment. As you can imagine, this matches pretty well with Startup Weekend.

We’re thankfull and very proud of Hanz to be our very first sponsor. And we’re convinced that it will be the right place of organizing the 1st edition of Startup Weekend Zwolle!

Guest Post: What Should Your MVP Look Like? A Technical Feasibility Scan Helps You Find Out


Startup founders without programming skills often get stuck while getting started. Typically, they face questions like “I want to build the next Uber for X, but I don’t know what my MVP should look like.” It’s hard to know if your idea can translate into a viable MVP build if you don’t have a programming background. A Technical Feasibility Scan (TFS) can help you get out of the deadlock and make difficult decisions with confidence.

What is a Technical Feasibility Scan?

A TFS is an evaluation that helps you find out what your MVP should actually look like technologically. It helps you:

  • Draw up a potential architecture.
  • Estimate the amount of work.
  • Identify technical risks such as: scalability, complexity or need for rare skills.
  • Make a draft design that you can use in early marketing and pitch decks.

I’ve used this method to scan and help build several startups and it tends to pay off. Squads customers can attest to it. Let me explain why.

A Solid Technical Foundation is Key to Convince Investors

Technical risks are financial risks. That’s why investors should not rely exclusively on the founders’ technical team to identify potential setbacks. I see more and more investors who hire third parties to assess a startup’s build plan — especially when the technology is at the core of the company’s growth strategy.

With a TFS, you can draw up a solid technical plan to present to your investor and answer key questions like “which skills do I need,” “can this be built in a few months,” and “what will it cost.”

Avoid Massive Re-writes during the MVP phase

Investors dread the word “rewrite.” It’s what happens when you find out that your application is beyond maintenance and you can’t add new features without rebuilding from scratch. Rewrites are sometimes inevitable, and they can be costly.

Having to do a massive re-write during the MVP phase can spell doom for your startup if you’re not prepared. If you’re just getting started and you expect to spend 50K, you better have an extra 50K in your pocket for unforeseen changes. Of course, going way over budget is not ideal. To avoid these kind of surprises, you need to build the optimal minimum and you need to anticipate possible risks. The TFS can help here as well. Let’s look an example.

Vandebron’s Approach

Vandebron is a Dutch company that is called the Airbnb of green energy. They help consumers connect directly with windmill owners and other energy producers, via the existing grid. The startup had a huge potential but needed to convince investors that their idea was technically feasible. They worked with Squads to get a TFS.

During the scan, we evaluated:

  • How the startups’ technical team should be built up.
  • Non-functional requirements (such as hosting and capacity).
  • Technical solution requirements.
  • Necessary budget for the build along with possible cost variations.
  • Risks and mitigation tactics.
  • Timeline and priorities.

The company secured its first funding round and worked with us to build a very successful MVP as a result. We also helped them recruit a CTO and build an in-house development team to carry the work forward. They are still working with our teams when they need extra capacity or specialist skills. Download our case study to learn more or contact me to discuss your needs.

This post also appeared on blog.