Martijn de Kuijper is the founder of Revue, a tool for creating editorial newsletters, which was acquired by Twitter in 2021. Now he’s a Product Manager at Twitter on the Longform team. Prior to founding Revue, he was the founder of two other startups, Yunoo and Fosbury (that participated in the Techstars Austin 2013 class). Martijn lives in The Netherlands with his wife and two kids.
We (Lucas Tieleman, Willem Spruijt, and myself) founded our startup Fosbury at the beginning of 2013 and applied for Techstars a few months later. We were thrilled to get accepted and moved to Austin for three months. It has been almost 10 years since we went through the Techstars program, but I look back at an amazing time when we learned so much.
In the first month, we talked to around 100 amazing mentors who helped us sharpen our thinking around our business and who were able to introduce us to nearly anybody we wanted to talk to. This was really valuable for a company like ours that just started and wanted to get a foothold in the US.
The second month was all about funding and preparing for our next round. The expertise of the Techstars team and all the founders that we met really helped us.
In the last month, the program drilled us on our pitch and I remember that at the end of the three months, we did pitch practice multiple times a day with all the other companies at the end. It was a crazy time, but I enjoyed it a lot.
As with many startups, we weren’t able to find the traction we were hoping for. Fosbury tried to help retailers digitize their loyalty cards, coupons, etc. using Apple technology (Apple Wallet, iBeacons) but I believe we were way too early. We spoke to many companies in and outside of Austin and we got a ton of inbound in 2014, but we weren’t able to sell our solution. Eventually, we sold our technology to Verve Mobile and while we were working on handing that over, I had some time on my hands and I realized I was eager to build something new.
At the beginning of 2015, I spent a ton of time on Twitter, but I realized that it was hard to keep up with all the interesting articles that were being shared. I wanted to slow down my Twitter timeline and wanted to create a way to consume that content at my own pace, on my own time. That’s when I realized that allowing users to curate and distribute that content via email was a great way to solve my own (and hopefully others') problem. I built the first version of Revue in four weeks, launched it on ProductHunt, and from there I continued working on it as a side project. A few months later my co-founder Mohamed El Maslouhi joined, which was the point where we decided to start working on it full-time.
Aside from learning a lot during the program about specific areas like pitching or funding, I think the biggest learnings came from talking to the Techstars team, the mentors, and the founders. Hearing from people about their experiences and how they tackled similar challenges as we were having, taught us a lot about how to run our company.
There’s so much that we learned that it’s hard to answer this question succinctly :) I think the greatest challenge was to manage the interests of all parties involved (the team’s interests, the investors’ interests, and not to forget our own) while figuring out everything around the deal. There was so much that needed to happen in order to close the deal and announce it to the world that we spent days and nights getting everything done. But I’m extremely grateful and proud of everybody involved who put in all the work and made it happen. All of the original Revue team members are still at Twitter, which I think is a sign that we made the right decision.
Think really hard about what you want for your company and yourself. Don’t get blindsided by other things like the financial aspects. Does an acquisition make sense for your company and your team? Do you feel you’re personally ready to join a larger company and continue to work on your vision there? We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could integrate and serve our customers even better by joining Twitter before closing the deal. Even though a lot has changed since we joined, the initial integration strategy we laid out still holds up and still helps us think about the future of the products that we’re building.