In 2015, I had my first experience with Startup Weekend and it was remarkable. I was invited to be one of the mentors at the Startup Weekend Space held in Gdansk, Poland. At the event, I was inspired by many great ideas, met a lot interesting people and had a lot of fun. The Startup Weekend encouraged people to work on and pitch their ideas, have ideas validated and the ability to meet like-minded people. It was a great platform for people with innovative ideas to kick start their entrepreneurial journey.
So, when I noticed that Startup Weekend Utrecht was to be organized in November 2016, I didn’t hesitate to contact one of the lead organizers, Cindy Spelt, and asked her if I could join the team. With my background organizing similiar events like hackathons for my work, I was sure I could bring value to the team. I was really excited to meet new people who I can learn from and to share my experiences with.
From the moment I started, I can say that I am part of a great team. Our pre-event was a blast, we have great mentors and judges on board, we arranged social activities and I learned a lot. With such pleasant experiences, you can imagine how much I am looking forward to the main event in November.
If people ask me why they should join the Startup Weekend, I would answer them with the same reason why I want to be involved:
“Startup Weekend is the place to meet open, friendly and enthusiastic people who want to share their experiences and are eager to learn from each other.”
The Startup Weekend offers a great opportunity to share and validate your ideas, and to support other ideas. It is the golden opportunity to meet your future co-founder, to be supported by mentors and to receive feedback from judges – all in just 54 hours.
“Startup Weekend lasts way longer than a weekend.”
Oh and another good reason to join is that a Startup Weekend lasts longer than just a weekend. I still have contact with people I met at the Startup Weekend Space in Poland. We stay in touch to share knowledge and visit other events together.
So don’t hesitate join, it is a great and lasting experience. Meet people, have fun & innovate. Hope to see you there!
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 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or just come check out our upcoming events at www.swutrecht.com!
On Saturday morning, people got a bit scared when this guy approached them with his
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!”
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 more..re-brainstorm & 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.
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!
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.
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!
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!”
Casper founded his first company at age 15 and has been a serial tech entrepreneur since. Currently he is working on Picqer, a SaaS Warehouse Management System. Casper will help our participants with his expertise in building internet infrastructure and B2B web applications, both in technical and product development terms. Jeroen is the Founder and Head of Product at Deskbookers, an online platform that offers direct access to the best work and meeting places. With his experience, hard-working attitude and cheerful mood, we expect Jeroen to support our participants to get happily through the weekend.
Guys, tell us who your role models are?
J: Elon Musk, he is changing the world, one or more companies at a time.
C: Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Steve Jobs.
In your mind, what the most comprehensive book/blog/newsletter/podcast about startups?
C: The Lean Startup has had the most impact on my thinking about how to run a young company.
J: Growthhackers.com [it’s a big online community of research, Q&A and blogposts on growth hacking – Ed.]
Can you name three personal traits necessary to launch and run a startup?
J: To be productive. To have the ability to move from ideation to planning and execution. To have perseverance and determination.
C: “Get the things done” mentality. Listen to feedback, but make your own choices. Perseverance, because running a startup is hard.
What is the most impressive startup you’ve seen so far?
C: Palantir. They showed that you don’t need articles on TechCrunch etc. if that is not where your target audience is.
Why did you launch a startup?
C: Because it is the only way I know how to roll!
J: Because I can.
On a more personal note: what’s your typical Sunday?
C: No looking at my e-mail or being bothered with business related stuff. I let the past week to go off and prep my mind for a new one.
J: I start with some reading, sports and personal stuff. Then I get back to work, to prep for the upcoming week.
As we can see, Jeroen and Caspar have completely different enterprises, but they believe in the same things. Guys, it’s great to have you here! Thanks for being awesome mentors and making this event possible.
Let’s keep dreaming & working during this weekend! Cheers!
Saturday is a super exciting day since we have Paul Stomph here! There is a list of reasons why. First off, Paul has a lengthy experience as an entrepreneur. Right after graduating from Building Engineering in 2011, Paul became self-employed and has never worked under a boss since. As he says,
“The regular 9 to 5 thing doesn’t interest me, neither does the pursuing of someone else’s bestowed vision.”
Well, we can only agree! As CEO & Co-Founder of QwikSense B.V., Paul also has a lot of experience with startups. He participated in programs like Rockstart Accelerator,
UtrechtInc, and Climate-KIC Accelerator. Last but not least: we love having Paul here at SWUtrecht because of his involvement organising it last year. His return as a mentor puts a smile on all our faces.
Paul, who is your role model?
That is Elon Musk for sure, a real dreamer. Without the dare to dream, this world will not be a better place for everyone. As a child he got inspirited by science fiction, and intended to make the world more sustainable and safe.
What is the most comprehensive book you have read about startups?
The book Zero to One written by Peter Thiel opened my eyes on how to build distinctive companies. The point is not to add something to existing ideas, but to create a totally new one.
Can you name three personal traits necessary to launch and run a successful startup?
Dare to do. Be patient, but act strong. Above of all, have fun!
What is the most impressive startup you’ve seen so far?
Treatwell. They make an exit of 34 million euros after 18 months. The concept is really simple, the Booking.com for beauty treatments, but very effective.
Why did you launch a startup?
To be free and to spend your time doing the things you like, and acting on things you believe in. Being an employee of a corporation means working for a vision that is not yours. It was my intention to see my vision come alive.
On a more personal note: what’s your typical Sunday?
Depends on the weather. If the sun shines, I am outdoors running, driving my mountain bike, or enjoying the city. In other cases, I can spend hours watching a great television series like House of Cards. I like to cook, so at the end of the day there will be always a nice meal!
Last but not least, why did you come back to SWUtrecht this year?
I organised SWUtrecht last year and I realized that mentors have a lot of influence while launching a startup. After my startup Quicksense went through Rockstart Accellerator, I’ve collected more than two years of experience that I want to share with others. SWUtrecht is a place with beautiful ideas. I’m addicted to continuously searching for solutions. In future, I envision myself continuing supporting other startups and also founding new ideas on my own. As well as working in a startup, SWUtrecht gives you the chance to do great things on your own, while working in a corporate you are a small part of a bigger, and usually not very efficient, machine of actions.
We raise a cup of coffee to Paul who rushes away to meet other teams to help them out to reach their goals!
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.
- 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?