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.

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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 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.

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!

 








Meet Casper and Jeroen: our mentors @SWUtrecht 2015

Peeps,

Meet Casper Bakker and Jeroen Arts. Both gents are here today at SWUtrecht as mentors, helping our participants to build their startups.

Meet Casper (left) & Jeroen
Meet Casper (left) & Jeroen

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?

J: Uber.

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!








Meet Paul Stomph: our mentor @SWUtrecht 2015

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,

SWUtrecht chats with the mentor Paul Stomph
SWUtrecht chats with the mentor Paul Stomph

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!

Cheers!








Meet Vincent Hoogsteder: our keynote speaker @SWUtrecht 13 Nov

We usually see those people from the distance (well, good for you if you get the front row seats!), covered in a bright light and attention. They are dashing, eloquent, well-experienced, witty and ready for any questions to hit the floor. Have you ever wondered what do those keynote speakers do, or think for that matter, once they get off the stage and head for the beer at the reception?

Pleasure to introduce you to our speaker Vincent Hoogsteder, the co-founder of Distimo, the free app analytics platform for developers. On Friday, 13 November, Vincent is going to talk about the happy, but not so easy years while developing Distimo into a startup with 6 offices worldwide, which he eventually sold to the company in San Francisco in 2014.

Meet the keynote speaker Vincent
Meet the keynote speaker Vincent
So make sure you are on Friday (13th November) at Jaarbeurs to listen to Vincent! In the meantime, we had a chance to ask him some blitz questions which can give you a better view of what a top-notch entrepreneur looks like.
Vincent, who is your role model (career- and/or lifestyle-wise)?
My parents. They’ve been running their own company for close to 40 years, steering it successfully to good and pretty bad times. They’ve shown to me that I can be an entrepreneur working with rolled-up sleeves and with a lot of enthusiasm. While working hard 6 days a week, they still find a way to let family always come first.
What is the most comprehensive book about startups that you have read?
Two books actually. Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One”. I love his angle that a startup is better off going after a small market and creating a monopoly, rather than diving into a very big market first. In a small market, the startup can get its foot on the ground quickly. It can get a significant market share and just later move into the adjacent markets. Another book is  “Rework” written by the founders of the software company “37 Signals”. They remind you that there are more ways to grow a startup successfully instead of putting people behind their screens for 14 hours a day.
In your opinion, what are 3 personal traits that are necessary to launch and run a startup?
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Optimism. Don’t think too much about the 120 things that can go wrong. Rather follow your gut-feeling which usually tells you the right hint that you are after something.

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

I’m very impressed with GitLab. They’ve been a very small team, totally self-funded building for years a product that 100,000 organizations are using today. At the right time they saw their traction and in no time moved to Silicon Valley, went into YCombinator and raised a serious funding from A-list VCs. Now they are scaling up very quickly, and are not afraid to go after some big and heavily funded competitors. They all do this while being a completely remote and open company. Amazing!

Why did you launch a startup?

While studying at university, a customer from my dad’s store asked if maybe his son, who was already doing something in IT, knew how to build a webshop. My coding skills were not so pretty, and many fellow students where a lot better at it than me. Together with a friend, we quickly decided to try to sell a website to this person. We thought: “If he buys the idea, we’ll find later some good students to build it”. So we did sell the idea in the end. Thus, we ended up running several startups while still studying. This was so much fun, I have been poised with the startup virus ever since. The coolest thing about running a startup is that you control the wheel. If you wake-up with the feeling you should go left, you grab a cup of coffee and get to it. There are no politics, there is few delays. And the work you put in can lead to results really fast.
How does your Sunday look like?
It’s starts early with our one year old son jumping on our bed. On an ideal Sunday, my girlfriend and I cycle with him through beautiful Amsterdam and meetup with friends for an afternoon beer in the Vondeltuin.
Thank you, Vincent, for sharing some parts of your life with us! We can feel that you have been carrying the “startup fever” since you were a student.
Do you want to get into the contagious startup world too? Grab the last tickets here to our 54-hour long idea generation and execution marathon on 13-15 November. 
See you there!
SWUtrecht Team







Meet Alistair Shepherd: the coolest MC @SWUtrecht in November

He is the first one to hit the stage and the last one to leave it. He is the one who observes, absorbs and guides the situation so that everyone gets enough of thrill, appreciation and high-fives. He is the one who sends us to coffee/beer breaks and remembers all of our faces (and names!).

Ladies and gentlemen,

Meet Alistair, the MC of SWUtrecht in November
Meet Alistair, the MC of SWUtrecht in November

Please meet Alistair Shepherd, the Master of Ceremonies for our SWUtrecht in November. Alistair is the founder of Saberr that designs software and technology solutions to help people “work well together”. He is a series Startup Weekend Facilitator and an UP Global Research Fellow. Alistair has lived in Hong Kong and the US, and will be coming straight from London to Utrecht!

In order to get Alistair know better as a person, we arranged a blitz interview.

Who is your role model (career- and/or lifestyle-wise)?

It’s a total cliche but.. Elon Musk comes very high up my list of most respected visionaries. But if you want someone who combines business savviness with a cracking lifestyle and a healthy dose of ethics then my hero has to be Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia.

What is the most comprehensive book/movie/blog/newsletter/podcast about startups you have encountered?

Tricky. I think the first book to read should be The Founders Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman. Read that before you go anywhere near The Lean Startup etc.

What are three personal traits are necessary to launch and run a startup?

Resilience, persistence and humour.

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

Too hard to choose. I’m lucky to be surrounded by the network of incredible founders in great companies, but the ones that impress me the most are the ones that are trying to solve hard problems. Problems that might actually make the world a better place. Those are the ones I admire the most. I’m a little jaded by “disruptive” messaging apps and “paradigm shifts” in ordering a pizza…

Why did YOU launch a startup?

I launched a startup because I didn’t want a job. Ironic, I know, because now I probably work harder than ever. But the idea of working to make someone else’s dream come true and slowly moving up the corporate ranks didn’t particularly inspire me. I wanted to work for a vision, and there’s no better vision than your own!

How does your Sunday look like?

Hopefully doing something active, e.g. kitesurfing, cycling, climbing etc. But many Sundays are also spent cooking huge roast dinners with a lot of my old friends from university days. Keeping a healthy social life and getting away from work is really important to me.

 

Are you among those people who don’t want to work for others and always get goosebumps if hearing “the lean startup”? Then grab a ticket here and join our 54-hour-long SWUtrecht on 13-15 November to launch your own startup.








Meet Don Ritzen, the co-founder of the Dutch Startup Weekend

Don Ritzen is among initial pioneers (together with James Digby and Pedro Santos) of bringing the concept of Startup Weekend to the Netherlands in 2010 after participating in Startup Weekend Copenhagen the same year. He had quite an experience since the

Don Ritzen, the pioneer of Startup Weekend in the Netherlands
Don Ritzen, the pioneer of Startup Weekend in the Netherlands

team he joined, Memolane, ended up winning the event, having VC’s in the jury falling over each other to hand their business cards and raising $2M from the founders of Skype and Atomico. 

After helping to kick Startup Weekend off the ground in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Eindhoven he decided to start Rockstart Accelerator which has supported 58 startups and helped to raise a total of 24M funding.

Being a sneaky person, I decided to disturb Don’s busy fundraising schedule, and chat with him about startups and weekends.

Don, do you see any differences between the first and the current Startup Weekend (SW) in the Netherlands?

At the most recent Dutch SWs, the ideas have become of much higher quality, there is way less ideas on typical apps that you can see everyday popping out. Also, people have progressed a lot: they no longer keep the ideas to themselves, are not afraid to share and discuss, and pitch with great pleasure and confidence. So today’s SW is much more focused on developing, improving people skills that are used definitely later on in the entrepreneurial field.

In your opinion, to whom is SW oriented?

For those who have already been in the startup scene for some time, it helps to mature as a person and go confidently to the next stage. For the first-timers in the tech entrepreneurship, it is a fascinating experience. Even if you don’t possess any IT skills, you still can create something IT-wise during an actual weekend! I say, just come here, we will fix you with the interesting and creative people, make a plan and just to do it.

Why do you think SW is still going on? NB. SW Utrecht will celebrate its 5th anniversary on 13-15  November!

SW has been a life-changer for many of its participants. I’ve seen people quit their full-time jobs to continue with an idea the very next day or bring the concept of SW to another cities and countries (hi to SW Cologne organizer Vidar Andersen!). Well, it’s true that most of the ideas die after SW, but the point is to get ignited to do something that you never believed you could or would actually do. There is this life spiral of SW newbies turning into mentors, speakers, judges who burn with a passion to give back the valuable experience they have accumulated to the wannabe entrepreneurs.  

Describe SW in 3 keywords.

Timeless, high impact, life-changing (potentially).

From your personal experience, name several tips about launching and successfully running a startup.

First of all, focus. As a founder, you will be overwhelmed with small things every day, but in order to make progress you have to learn to work towards the bigger things. Second, mind your cash flow. Don’t overestimate your financial income even after you land your first customer and/or investor. While calculating your burn down rate, know that it always takes twice as long as you expect. Third, you need to learn very fast. If you are too stubborn, startups are not your cup of tea. You need to be some sort of a generalist to “locate” yourself well in several things at the same time.

According to you, what is the next big (Uber-type) startup?

I see a couple of industries that are going to capture big innovation momentum: virtual reality, 3D printing and fintech.

Pick one: Silicon Valley or the Netherlands? Why?

It depends what you are looking for. If you are 22 and have a revolutionary idea like Facebook, you definitely need to go to the Valley. However, people are more loyal and involved with the idea in the Netherlands. Also more experienced people (of age 30) are very welcome to start their business here. And that’s where Rockstart steps in supporting such experienced, passionate and consistent people bringing their innovations to the international level, all the way to the Silicon Valley.

Back to the Future: would you repeat the journey of founding a startup again?

Of course! Although from the experience of Rockstart alumni and my own journey, I can tell that it’s not for everyone. You can have some emotional scars, especially if your startup is not going so well and it drains your money, time and energy. It depends on the level of personal resilience to what limits you can be pushed, for instance, will you start from the scratch if your first or even second idea fail.  

How does your free time look like, if you have any?

Girlfriend, friends and work-outs (love squash!). There is a bit of discrepancy between the American and the European perception on the work-life balance. In the former, it is all about the work. In the Netherlands, a family is very important, thus, many people work only 4 days full-time. But even when you work a couple of days full-time, you have to make sure that your business wouldn’t overtake your family and your health.

Don runs to his next meeting leaving me thinking that startup world is a hectic dimension, but passion and ability to focus on big things can and will drive you forward. Who knows, maybe you or I will wake up tomorrow and decide “I will just do it!”.

Kick off your own startup at Startup Weekend Utrecht on 13-15 November. Grab your life-changing ticket at bit.ly/SWU2015.

See you there & cheers!

 








Mind-Blowing Tips & Tools by Jon & Quentin

Jon (left) and Quentin preparing to blow our minds off
Jon (left) and Quentin preparing to blow our minds off

Deviant October 3rd

They say that if Sunday is a God’s day then Saturday is for Devils. On October 3rd, all tech and entrepreneurial devils eager to cook ideas gathered at Hooghiemstra Bedrijvencentrum to listen to Jon Woodroof and Quentin Lacointa, the yogis from the Growth Tribe.

The attendees were burning for reasons to show up at this workshop. Some needed tips for scaling up their existing businesses, some were looking to meet new people, and others were responsibly prepping for Startup Weekend Utrecht on 13-15 November.

 

 

Catch the Sales Momentum

The sales guru Jon Woodroof
The sales guru Jon Woodroof

We started with a caffeine infusion and Jon Woodroof flooding us with over 20 tips for capturing the momentum of early sales. Jon has been in the Amsterdam startup scene since 2013 as a mentor, consultant, connector and a very determined bike enthusiast.

According to Jon, analysing the existing market data and composing the ideal customer profile are the initials steps that a freshly-launched startup should take. Also, an email is the first “touching-point” with your customer, so be sure either to prepare a proper list of second degree connections (LinkedIn Export Tool) or pay a freelancer to generate one (Upwork) while you take a beauty sleep.

Always make a check-in about the process of a prospective deal by mapping and dating the steps already made and to be taken next. However, don’t clone the same operational layout to all your deals because they may vary.

To get out a good sales lead, you should prepare and constantly ask people around the same series of open-ended questions to have enough of information to be able to compare apples to apples. While negotiating the price terms, put your product or service into a certain price range so that your customer then could freely choose the most affordable option.

Set reminders for scheduling a new or a follow-up email (SalesLoft). Keep in touch with people by congratulating them on their personal or career success (Newsle).

For smooth external communication, prepare a catchy tweet-style introduction about yourself and/or your company and make it easy to read – the best if your email fits on the smartphone screen without a necessity to scroll down! In fact, make all your team mates use the same tweet-long description of the company while communicating externally.

Don’t be afraid to use Instagram and Twitter to directly approach people you are interested in for a meet up, referral, advice, feedback by simply (hash)tagging them.

Engage in constant communication by writing a blog, or better a newsletter (Revue). Check Jon’s Twotone Amsterdam, a weekly fusion newsletter about startups, sales and bikes.

Finally, never stop keep trying especially in recycling the leads with all the tips and tools mentioned above.

Test, Track, and Iterate…

The sneaky growth hacker Quentin Lacointa
The sneaky growth hacker Quentin Lacointa

After a crunchy but healthy break, Quentin Lacointa guided us through a labyrinth of 19 available customer acquisition channels. Quentin is a sneaky data analyst helping startups and various industry giants to seduce new customers.

Growth hacking is not just marketing. It’s about conceiving a creative idea, daring to experiment with it, collecting and analysing data on it, and only then composing a strategy to act. Start learning about this art by reading the book Traction.

Extort Import.io, oDesk, and Rapportive to extract, generate and import possible email addresses to your inbox. Use the tools available on Product Hunt or Marketing Stack to track down everything you do. If you don’t have money to analyse the hard data, simply use Google Analytics. Talking to your customers for feedback is an essential soft data on your product or service.

Use Google News Downloader or Buzstream to track the breaking news and people who write for living about you and your company. Send out your press-kit to the industry influencers who you can fish out using Followerwonk. Carefully think of several hashtags that your product or service associates with (Hashtagify).

Optimise your Twitter engagement by automatically favouring tweets (TweetFavy), sharing content (Dlvr.it), or following people (Tweepi). Thank personally people who have just joined your Twitter community, especially the ones with a sufficient amount of followers. Ask a satisfied client of yours to tweet about you and include such a referral on your website.

Well optimised and feature-based landing pages get 55% more of signups. Check what people remember about your website after looking at it for 5 seconds (Usability Hub). If you have a blog, host in infographics that capture numbers, stories, processes in a less complicated way.

Diversify your growth hacking portfolio by using ⅔ of channels that work for you the best and evaluate the effectiveness by considering:

  • Blink (what does your gut tell you?)
  • Relevance (does your audience hang out in this channel?)
  • Availability (do you have the resources and tools?)
  • Scale (how scalable is this channel?).

Most importantly, the concept always comes first before the design, so measure, test and iterate till you find the best implementation strategy!

Meet Jon & Quentin Again!

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See you on 13-15 November!

Well, SWUtrecht can witness that sales and growth hacking are very peculiar and multivariate processes requiring attention and patience. “It’s a full-time job!”, as one of our attendees noted in the end of day and we fully agree on that.

If you missed our workshop or want to be mind-blown again, come and see Jon and Quentin at Rockstart Answers Summit on October 30th – November 1st in Amsterdam.

And don’t forget to be among the entrepreneurial spirits at Startup Weekend Utrecht on 13-15 November! Get your tickets here.

See you folks soon!