Being a refugee is NOT a job title!


I know from experience that working in and moving to another country can be an hassle. In the beginning it all sounds adventurous and exciting. Lots of new impressions, meeting new people and making friends and lots of exciting information to process…. After some time you start looking around and asking yourself ‘how can I fit in?‘ The most challenging part starts when you want to become ‘one of them’. Learning the language, fitting in the (administrative) system and making a living…

We all want to live up to our full potential. Learning a language requires time, getting used to new manners and a culture also. This is ok. This is part of the deal. What is NOT ok is putting someone at a DISADVANTAGE: calling a person who travelled great distances to find a better life ‘a refugee’. This is not of any help.

The title ‘refugee’ is political and puts you in a BOX. We do not put people in boxes, we work together instead, no matter your background or life story. My suggestion is to start using the term: PROFESSIONALS WTH AN INTERNATIONAL BACKGROUND instead. Imagine the level of creativity, perseverance, humanity and authenticity they can bring in!

To make a DIFFERENCE we invite companies to SPONSOR tickets for Startup Weekend Utrecht. We believe that by getting to know the DUTCH entrepreneurial ECOSYSTEM people have an easier entrance by finding their way in making a living in the Netherlands.

Do you like to help us? Please DONATE tickets!

  • 5 tickets : € 450
  • we will select the people to join the event (designers, programmers, business people)
  • date of the event: 11-12-13 November, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • sponsorship: before 30th October 2016

For more information, please call me at +31 (6)1465 1424. We will take it from there. Thank you!

Written by Cindy Spelt – Lead Organizer  at Startup Weekend Utrecht

Why Do Startup Weekend Logos All Look Different?

Why do Startup Weekend logos all look different but somehow similar?

As of July 2016, Startup Weekend has reached 150 countries with over 1,000 organizers around the world. Yet, if you look at their logos, they all look different, while some elements seem to be preserved. What exactly are different and what are the same?

According to the official brand guidelines from Startup Weekend, every Startup Weekend organizer is allowed freedom to be creative with its logo as long as 2 key elements stay intact: the Beaker image and the text “Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs”. This flexibility allows organizers to differentiate themselves with unique logos, while strengthening the global brand of Startup Weekend.

Logo with text4 (1)

So What is the Story Behind Startup Weekend Utrecht 2016 Logo?

Key Image 1: The Palm

Our logo designer, Madelein Ovens, did encounter difficulties as there are already all kinds of variations made. Yet with her involvement in previous Startup Weekend Utrecht events, she experienced a strong sense of collaboration among the participants, mentors, judges and organizing team. This is the key message she wants the logo to convey.

To visualize the abstract concept of collaboration, she used the shape of a palm in the background. The “fingers” of the palm are 5 iconic buildings of Utrecht, which are Dom Tower, St Catherine’s Cathedral, Water Tower Utrecht, Province Utrecht Building and of course, a Dutch Windmill. The Province building was particularly chosen (instead of the City Hall) as the thumb for its most important symbolic meaning: Startup Weekend Utrecht is going beyond the city level to a wider province level.

buildings (1)

Key Image 2: The Beaker

With the palm in place, she put the beaker in the middle. The 3 circles at the side of the beaker not only resemble an ecosystem, but also to represent 3 key activities participants do during the event – Meet People, Have Fun, Innovate.

Miffy (Nijntje in dutch), the famous cute white female rabbit in children’s books, is undoubtedly the perfect representation of the citizens in Utrecht, as she was created by a dutch artist Dick Bruna, who was born in Utrecht. As the heart of the ecosystem, the Miffies situate right inside the beaker.

Every year our logo will be different. Do you have great ideas for our upcoming logos? You are more than welcome to let us know by emailing to or just come check out our upcoming events at!

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!!

Meet Ewoud Goorts: our mentor @SWUtrecht 2015

On Saturday morning, people got a bit scared when this guy approached them with his

Ewoud hiding behind JP from SWUtrecht
Ewoud hiding behind JP from SWUtrecht

loud voice and solid posture. But once he started sharing his passion and expertise for startups, all SWUtrecht attendees just simply melted down and didn’t want to share him with other teams.

Peeps, meet Ewoud Goorts, our long-time mentor at SWUtrecht specialized in platforms and product management. Currently, he is the Founder and Head of Operations at FlorAcces, an online vertical marketplace for the horticulture industry, founded in 2010.

In order to get into Ewoud’s shoes, we hunted Ewoud for a beer to chat about his triumphs and failures, and the importance of having a great team all year round. Check our full video interview and find some excerpts about Ewoud’s personality below.

Ewoud, you are very adorable, but could please tell us who is your secret role model?

I think that everybody you meet has something you can learn from, if you’re open to it.

Short and sweet! Then maybe you have a book that people should definitely read to be always up to date in terms of startups?

I have two actually on my hitlist: Platform Scale by Sangeet Paul Choudary and Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. 

How does a successful startup founder look like?

He is persevere, able to share, and had an open mindset.

What is the most impressive startup you’ve seen/heard of so far?

37signals. They eat bootstrapping for breakfast.

Why did you personally launch a startup?

In order to make a dent in the universe: permanently change an extremely traditional and immense industry.

Can you describe how your Sunday looks like?

Going out for a hike and/or drinks with friends till late talking about life, travels and entrepreneurship.  

Before heading to another team, Ewoud shouts out loud:

“SW is about doing and making your dreams come true by making your hands filthy and showing the world it can be done!”




Meet Oscar Kneppers: our judge @SWUtrecht

You have this wonderful business idea. What do you do? You get into Startup Weekend on Friday afternoon, you form an awesome team, you brainstorm more..develop & re-develop.. And here the glorious Sunday comes! You get on the stage and have exactly 5 minutes to pitch your freshly made business idea in front of those serial entrepreneurs. They look tough, it seems that it’s impossible to lean them towards your ideas.

Thus, we are happy to helping you out and give you some tips at what point those serial entrepreneurs look at while deciding id your ideas has a potential.  

Everyone, meet Oscar Kneppers, our honourable judge on Sunday, 15 November.

Startup Yogi Oscar Kneppers
Startup Yogi Oscar Kneppers

Oscar launched, guided, developed and successfully sold a series of media companies (like Emerce and Bright), which eventually led to founding something different from corporates: Rockstart gives the best support for startups in their first 1000 days. Apart from that, Oscar is a licensed Level-1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher and teaches 3 classes a week, also on Thursdays at Rockstart.

We met at Rockstart Spaces, slumped at one of its comfy orange couches in the canteen, and started chatting about leadership and startups.

Oscar, to you mind, what are the main take-away for those first-comers to Startup Weekend?

It is the best way to consider something else than just a job in some company. If you can see how much you build in 54 hours – the idea, the team, the prototype – imagine what can happen in one year! It’s the best way to spend the weekend with sublime possibilities. It’s fun, it’s a lot of networking, creating, energizing. People quit their jobs next Monday! It’s all about unlocking the full human potential.

Who is your role model in terms of career and personal life?

No one in person. Since I was a boy of the age 12, I had this feeling that I can see the future, not in a clear perspective, but I always tried to stand on my toes and see what’s in there in the horizon of the future, and what can I do to get closer to that horizon. Since my job as a newspaper boy, I loved (and do love till now!) early mornings. It’s fascinating to rise up before anyone else, and to be ignited by the thoughts of what future can bring. Through the years (which i have gathered quite a lot by now), I have faced many people: fictional characters,, leaders of the companies, artists, all of them have that same optimistic vibe. I haven’t changed my boyish optimistic attitude, but any day anyone can be an influence to me. For instance, today I’m thinking about Dagny Taggart the book Atlas Shrugged.  

So what should people who are dying to become entrepreneurs read/see first before diving into a startup world?

First, they should definitely read two articles (Are you a Pirate? and The War for Entrepreneur) written by Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch. These articles are about people who instead of observing the action in the arena actually enter the arena themselves to nail something. I read them in 2010 and it led me thinking whether to sit and watch or to stand up and fight. This is how Rockstart Manifesto (all starting entrepreneurs should watch it here!) and eventually Rockstart idea were born. Also, they should check the book called Atlas Shrugged. I’ve been on it since August, whenever I have a free minute (and it has more than a thousand of pages!). It was written in 1957, the story is about people building railroads, which was very futuristic back then. However, those rail tracks are like the Internet today. This book has received some dubious feedback due to its inspiration for the neo-liberal movement, to which I don’t relate myself. But this is captures a bigger picture: it’s about primacy and leadership thinking.

Talking about leadership, what are the three necessary personal traits in order to launch and run a startup successfully?

First, you have to possess this urge for freedom, independence, ability to control your own life. You have to be self-sustainable to write your own destiny. Second, you definitely need to be disciplined. There is no such thing as an overnight unicorn success. It takes time to reach progress, for instance, in yoga, you can it’s only about a millimeter extension per month. You have to possess the ability to commit seriously, and create a path of habits you do every day towards that dot in the horizon. Last, I see that many newly established startups have problems in communicating their idea clearly, easily. It’s not about your perfect grammar. They say, if you really try, you can speak even not without your tongue, but you have to open to connect with people in seconds.

To your mind which startup or sector is going to be the next big unicorn?

To be very clear, I don’t believe in unicorns. Rockstart is not about the next unicorn. Unicorns are an obsession created by investors, not by entrepreneurs. Rockstart helps to create and build the fleet of vessels (many diverse size companies) instead of focusing only on oil tanks (i.e. unicorns). And then it might happen, when there is a proper startup culture, then the unicorn might rise.  

Why did you launch a startup?

There is nothing more exiting than to build something from nothing. Stop talking, start building, and help others to do something that has an impact.

How do you find/maintain work-life balance?

One word: discipline. If you are building a company, it’s not someone you are, it’s something you do. People tend to mix it up and become what they do. Build time for just for yourself, get up early, go for a swim or a run, do yoga. This time is only for yourself, clarifying and structuring your, analyzing any struggles you have at the moment. I’ve lost that discipline in the last two months, but planning to get back to it soon.

But even right now, are your Sundays sufficient enough for personal time?

My sleeping longer means getting up at 8 am. Then, I try to take a bath and dive into a full reading mode, go out for a morning run (on average 7-8 km), and be with my family.

A big namaste to Oscar for his beautiful insights on how our careers and personal lives should look like. Learning by doing, they say…

Meanwhile, see you all on Sunday at the pitches!


Meet Quentin Lacointa: mentor @SWUtrecht 2015

When you see Quentin Lacointa, you think “oh, this is the most modest guy I’ve met”. But only until he pulls out if his sleeve a series of mesmerising tips and tools on growth hacking.

Quentin is the master of masters in International Management and Corporate Finance.

Meet our mentor Quentin
Meet our mentor Quentin

Since he was a student, Quentin has been looking for new initiatives and projects. At the age of 18, he started working on the website that listed places to party in Toulouse. He even went to Australia to see koalas and work on SAP web marketing solutions.

“In the end, I found out that pure web marketing was boring. The marketing campaign usually moves very fast, but your position as a web marketer doesn’t. I even didn’t know what exactly developers or users were doing, I had no clue what the cost-per-click was. But I knew that I am good in data and marketing, and that’s how I ended up in becoming a growth hacker which combines different traits of design, programming, analytics, storytelling, copywriting, statistics, basically everything.


Quentin is also a co-founder of the french startup community but has recently joined the Growth Tribe, an academy based in Amsterdam that provides intensive workshops and training on growth hacking. Check his experience and excitement about Growth Tribe and more in the video interview below.


“Dutch startups are more international than the french. It’s easier for foreigners here in the Netherlands because you can work only using English, and the paperwork can be done in one day! It’s also more difficult to get in and out in the French market while the Dutch market moves very fast. I’m pretty sure that Amsterdam will become the next Berlin soon.”


Quentin’s advice to expats that want to step into the Dutch startup ecosystem is, first of all, follow what kind of startups are accepted to the Dutch accelerators, Rockstart and  Startupbootcamp. Even though Dutch people are very social, their startup community is still quite closed, so you need to go to a themed meetup and/or organise one yourself.


To the question, what is the first step that anyone who launches a startup need to do, Quentin immediately response is:

“Definitely read The Mom Test!!! Usually what happens is that people think they have a great idea, but if they don’t get enough of creative feedback before they seriously consider to launch it, the idea goes down the drain eventually. You need to talk to people. Discover where your target audience hangs out, ask very specific and well-thought questions. You don’t need to tell them that you have an idea or you want to launch a product, just start asking questions. Also, check if your audience is B2B or B2C. If it’s the later, Startup Weekend is one of the best places to test it.”

Also, due to a mass load of articles on the Internet, Quentin suggest to learn speed reading (for which he has taken a course recently himself) and follow the local influencers like David Arnoux.

A big thanks to Quentin for sharing his secrets on growth hacking!


Hello again… Frank

Frank Hakkenbroek was a participant of Startup Weekend Utrecht 2014 and is back for more this year! We ask him how it feels to be back.


Frank, what did you like best about SWUtrecht 2014?

“The atmosphere definitely. And the possibilities to speak with mentors. You get a lot of good input from them and you can use their networks. Also, there is a lot of bright and creative people around, that’s just really great.”


How is Startup Weekend different from other startup events?

“What I really like about SW is the lean canvas idea and that you have to develop an MVP. Other events I attended didn’t work as much with these techniques. Here there really is a strong focus on validation and building. The consequence is that you have to work really hard to get to concrete results. You start to validate your assumptions in a very early stadium which prevents you from working on an idea that nobody wants. The iteration speed is just really a lot higher when working towards an MVP.”


What made you decide to join SWUtrecht again?

“It was quite coincidental really. We are working on an idea we’ve already worked on before, Flying Innovators. We want to pitch next week for companies, so we use this as a sort of test case. And of course the surroundings are just super fun to work in.”


Even though we’re only halfway through – what’s different from last year?

“The location definitely. There’s much more space to work for ourselves. This is very effective for our work speed. Though on the other hand, the atmosphere is a lot different. Last year we were quite huddled up, which had the advantage of having more contact with other groups. I spoke to a lot of people, knew what all the other groups were doing, had a lot of interaction with the organization as well. That was just really cool. But now, I get to work much more effective, which is also good.”


Final question: will we see you again at SWUtrecht 2016?

“Without a doubt!”


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