Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator Spotlight: Cindy Spelt

How did your journey with Techstars Startup Weekend begin?

Back in 2014 I was ready for a new adventure. The new generation, fresh from school, was active, creative and tech savvy. They inspired me with their thinking, their business ideas and knowledge. A week before the event, I saw a post on Facebook about a Startup Weekend in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and decided to buy a ticket. I was convinced that I would meet those tech savvy people there and was excited to work with them.

Half an hour before the event my best friend called me. We had a nice chat and I told her that I was tired from the week and not really motivated to go to the event. And then she said: why don’t you just go and check it out? Since it’s only 10 minutes away from your home, you can always go home in case you do not like it… And so I did. It turned out to be the BEST weekend of my life. Life changing. True story.

Why did you decide that you wanted to take the step from being an Organiser to becoming a Facilitator?

I became addicted. To the people, the atmosphere and the energies it gave me. At each event you meet amazing like-minded people. As a facilitator you enlarge your network and the opportunity to meet local people. For me being a facilitator is something natural. I love doing it, it doesn’t cost me too much energy, although after a weekend I feel satisfied, and also a bit tired. Straight back to work is sometimes a bit challenging.

What do you enjoy most about being a Facilitator?

I get attached to the people. I understand how exciting it is to pitch on Friday and how nervous people are for the Sunday evening Pitch Night. I feel for them. They worked so hard the whole weekend, and then the moment comes to bring everything to the table. I am nervous too, for them. I am always proud of what I see on Sunday evening. They all went through some learning curves and teams show true team spirit. It is beautiful to see. Startup Weekend is the place to be if you are looking for a transformational experience. And those are the BEST! I cannot get enough :-). I always want MORE.

What is your best memory of facilitating at a Techstars Startup Weekend?

I got a request from a participant to practice his Friday evening pitch with the organising team, a couple of days before the event would kick off. I was impressed by the level of ambition and humbleness of this person. Of course I accepted it and invited him to one of our team meetings. We gave him advice and his idea was chosen on Friday evening. They won the first prize on Sunday evening too. I love the level of ambition of the people coming to Startup Weekends. We have a lot fun and at the same time we are damn serious about setting up a business and creating impact. I love this combination!

Do you have any advice for those thinking of taking the plunge and applying to become Facilitators?

Just do it. It is a great experience. I learned a lot from other facilitators, like Stavros (Greece) and Dwight (Amsterdam). When I felt a bit more confident I found my own way of doing it. I am just me, myself and I. In all the surveys the feedback that I get is that participants see how natural I am by just being myself and how much I am enjoying it too. Participants are not looking for a show, they value authenticity more. In the end, all SW-peeps are part of the same family. So, you can just be yourself and enjoy the ride! So find your own uniqueness in the way you like to facilitate, and it will be great!








Techstars Expands European Accelerator Footprint with Arcadis City of 2030 Accelerator in Amsterdam

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, today announced a new partnership with Arcadis, the leading design and consultancy for natural and built assets, to bring the Arcadis City of 2030 Accelerator, Powered by Techstars program to Amsterdam, furthering Techstars expansion of accelerators around the world.

Techstars has long had a presence in Amsterdam through the Techstars Startup Weekend and Techstars Startup Digest programs, dating back to 2010. Techstars also has a strong presence in the Netherlands as a whole, thanks to Techstars accelerator alumni companies, mentors, 36 Techstars Startup Weekends and 3,741 Techstars Startup Program attendees.

Startup companies selected for the Techstars Mentorship-driven Accelerator Program will bring pioneering technologies that will revolutionize the construction and engineering industries, including how people move around cities and the associated infrastructure need. Techstars and Arcadis will support the companies in program by providing content and a team of mentors who bring  subject-matter expertise, business connections and industry insights on innovative solutions that will help these companies do more faster.

The smart city industry is ripe for disruption. McKinsey research projects the smart city industry to be a $400 billion market by the end of this decade with more than 600 cities worldwide. These connected cities are expected to generate 60 percent of the world’s GDP by 2025.

Applications open in July 2018 and the program will kick off in February 2019. If you’re interested in applying, please check out the application tool kit.








Interview with Our Sponsor: Rockstart

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

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

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

What history do you have with Startup weekend?

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

Why is entrepreneurship important to you?

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

What effects SW has on ecosystem of city or country?

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

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

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

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

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

Why you decided to sponsor?

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

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

Buy your Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2015 Ticket Now!