YES!Delft at the Odyssey Hackathon 2019

As part of our partnership, YES!Delft visited the Odyssey Hackathon in Groningen, the largest AI and Blockchain hackathon in the world. Managing Director of YES!Delft The Hague Ras Lalmy, Technical Director for the Blockchain Focus Area Neil Smyth, Focus Area Manager for AI Noor Figdor attended the hackathon as jedis.

 

From Friday until Sunday, 100 teams battled it out 20 different challenges. In the 48 hours allotted, the teams looked for AI and Blockchain solutions for anything from Tokenizing Ecosystems to Crisis & Disaster Management. The ambitious challenges attracted many ambitious teams, of which our very own,  Circularise and Mythronics.

 

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Application deadline: April 22, 2019.

 

And the winner is….

Circularise is one of the startups that have moved to the YES!Delft The Hague. They are working on solving communication barriers in the value chain with blockchain technology to enable a circular economy. In Groningen, the Circularise team was victorious in the Tokenizing Ecosystems track.  They worked on visualizing investments in open source protocols for investors, and generating smart contracts that run the protocols, allocate transaction fees, and govern a voting system.

Mythronics, one of our Accelerator program alumni, was awarded the second place in the Fossil Free Future track! The team created a solution for households with solar panels to confidently certify their solar energy production and provide accurate insight for the entire ecosystem in household energy production.


“It’s great to see YES!Delft startups Circularise and Mythronics do so well at the Odyssey Hackathon. It has been a tremendous experience for everyone, a huge amount of positive energy from all kinds of participants who are driven to re-imagine how we solve societies challenges. Well done to Rutger and the team on bringing all the people together!

Neil Smyth, Technical Director for the Blockchain Focus Area

 

The power of team

For startups, the team is essential for success. This becomes even more clear in a pressure cooker environment like a hackathon. We spoke to Socialtec: a team of three colleagues, a family member of the team captain, and two other guys that flew in from Berlin. How is that for teamwork? They were part of the Inclusive Banking track developing a way to transition to a local, circular and inclusive economy.

 

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So instead of exchanging money for goods and services, their answer is an app where people can easily trade and asses their offerings. This means there would be an ecosystem that allows you to exchange whatever you have in abundance. We bartered a handful of our YES! bars with team captain Michiel for his pitch.

“All the offers on our network are available through blockchain. Because there is an issue in peer2peer networks because you cannot see the entire system. Therefore you have to centralize this information on some medium, so you can access it, but then who owns it? That’s where blockchain comes in. We put the offers on the blockchain so that it’s centralized in a decentralized way.  These are the words of our smart developer who was smiling when he was explaining it to us.”

Michiel Heij, SocialTec Team Captain

Another team that caught our attention were the Future Fire Fighters team, who only met in real life on the first day. Even though two team members that participated in the last year’s hackathon, this year they teamed up with one Italian girl and two Bulgarian guys. Their solution to help emergency responders make faster and safer decisions. Their solution was to collect and analyze information from both closed and open data streams. With this they won the Crisis & Disaster Management track.  

“The next step is to realize the potential in the teams and ideas from the hackathon. Here I believe that YES!Delft can play a key role with our proven startup Validation Labs together with our new Digital Hub in The Hague focused on AI and Blockchain.  Our goal is to make the Digital ecosystem in The Hague a vibrant reality – and these challenge winners are clear examples of ideas that we can help realise so I encourage them to apply for our upcoming AI/BC Validation Lab. An inspirational 5 days but only the first step!”

Neil Smyth, Technical Director for the Blockchain Focus Area

 

Apply to the AI/Blockchain Validation Lab

Application deadline: April 22, 2019.

Tech Startup Case: Adeezy

Startup life is unpredictable. In the YES!Delft startup incubator we believe in sharing successes as well as failures. We want fellow entrepreneurs to inspire each other and learn from each other. By telling their stories on a case by case basis, you can learn about all the different (and sometimes wholly unexpected!) things you might encounter on your startup journey. 

 

Adeezy is a SaaS-startup from the YES!Delft AI/Blockchain Validation Lab. They are focused on building a platform where brands and agencies can plan and execute cost-effective social media campaigns. Adeezy uses the latest technological solutions such as Blockchain and Artificial intelligence to deal with problems in current online marketing, such as ad fraud, transparency and aversion to advertising.

 

The eleventh hour

After Adeezy’s initial investor ended up being unable to deliver right before the holidays, they had to re-start the arduous process of searching for new investors. Then, after the New Year, when Adeezy was in the process of finalizing a new investment, the deal fell through at the eleventh hour. This left the team without funding while developing their product – and the bills were due.

“It was a Thursday night, and things were looking pretty bleak for us. The next morning we were meeting with an investor, but we didn’t expect much of it – it felt like a last-ditch attempt. That Friday morning the rollercoaster began, and the one-minute pitch we perfected in the Validation Lab proved to be the key.”

Marco Berkheij, Adeezy co-founder

 

The Friday morning investor meeting proved to be successful, even though it didn’t provide all the funds Adeezy needed. However, because they were in the YES!Delft AI/Blockchain Validation Lab, Adeezy had access to all the YES!Delft services.

 

YES!Funded

One of those services is YES!Funded. On the advice of startup trainer Noor Figdor, Adeezy got in touch with Investment Director Jan Geert van Hall. They met on  Friday before noon, pitched their story, and Jan Geert immediately referred the team to an investor meetup in Amsterdam that same afternoon.

 

“While is it extremely unique to find funding so quickly- within the space of a day – it speaks volumes about the quality of the company, the team, and their pitching skills. At YES!Funded we have quick access to the right investor networks for our startups, a benefit of being with such a prestigious organization as Yes!Delft.”

Jan Geert van Hall, Investment Director

 

In the YES!Delft AI/Blockchain Validation Lab the Adeezy team had perfected their pitching skills with startup trainer Noor, and so was more than ready with a strong and relevant proposition for the investors. And it paid off – 12 out of 15 attending investors visited Adeezy’s breakout session and showed interest in potentially investing. The Adeezy team went home that evening, satisfied their startup journey would continue.

 

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“During our training in the YES!Delft AI/Blockchain Validation Lab the Adeezy team did great with their pitch – they worked hard, and we challenged them to condense their story and highlight the strength and relevancy of their proposition. This success goes to show the importance of a fantastic pitch, and how much of a difference it can make.”

Noor Figdor, Startup Trainer

 

About YES!Funded

YES!Funded is a YES!Delft service launched in January 2019. The service is aimed to assist entrepreneurs in planning their financial strategy and seeking funds. Do you want to know what YES!Funded can do for you? Visit the website!

 

About AI/Blockchain Validation Lab

The AI/Blockchain Validation Lab is a unique YES!Delft program, based in the brand new Digital Hub YES!Delft The Hague. During this unique two-month ‘pressure cooker’, aspiring entrepreneurs discover the business potential of their ideas. The part-time program helps participants to explore and validate their ideas, product/market fit, and business model while enabling them to continue to work on their business. Participants also get access to the extensive YES!Delft ecosystem of experienced mentors, investors, corporate partners and launching customers.

 

The next AI/Blockchain Validation Lab kicks off this May! APPLY BEFORE APRIL 22, 2019

Apply to the AI/Blockchain Validation Lab

Artificial intelligence: Enhancing people and businesses alike

Big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are no longer a vision of the future. In fact, they are already changing the way we go about our daily lives and work: from making processes more accurate and efficient, and deriving once-unthought-of insights, to developing life-changing applications. Their potential is undeniable and it is only bound to grow.

Tech startups, in particular, have identified and embraced this trend. Whether targeting business clients or end consumers, many of them have discovered the potential of machine learning and AI to bring unique value to the market.

AI for the maintenance industry

One of those startups is Dutch Analytics, a young company – co-founded by entrepreneurs Yannick Maltha, Jorick Naber and Victor Pereboom – that leverages machine learning and AI to help businesses improve their predictive maintenance capabilities.

Its innovative AI driven Predictive Maintenance platform collects and analyzes all types of data, providing users with quick and actionable insights about the state of their assets.

Dutch Analytics started in 2016 and grew out of a corporate-startup collaboration with BAM Infra Rail, a Dutch construction company, and with the support of the Venture Generator, a business bringing corporates and startups closer together. It is also a part of YES!Delft’s portfolio.

 The team’s decision to focus on machine learning and AI technology was largely based on the need of BAM Infra Rail to become more data-driven and efficient in optimizing their maintenance process.

“We live in an information-driven society,” Victor says. “There are large amounts of data that we need to measure, and AI enables us to squeeze more insights out of it.” That is especially true for businesses that deal with ever-growing amounts of data on a daily basis.

While many might see the deriving actionable output as their biggest challenge, Victor and his team think a few steps ahead: “The challenge is actually in getting the right input.”

Basing results on incomplete or not fully relevant data is as good as basing them on no data at all. Thus, Dutch Analytics – now a team of 13 – make sure that they are transparent with their clients and work hand-in-hand with them to collect, process and analyze their data. After all, the beauty of an AI platform is its ability to learn as more data comes in, so it’s crucial for it to be learning the right lessons.

 

Apply to the first AI / Blockchain Validation Lab in Europe

 

 

AI to help the visually impaired

Working closely with their customers is also AI startup Envision, part of YES!Delft’s community as well. Founded by entrepreneurial duo Karthik Mahadevan and Karthik Kannan, the company has developed an AI-powered tool that helps visually impaired people become more independent in their everyday lives.

It all started a few years back when Karthik M. visited a school for visually impaired children in India, and asked them about the biggest challenge they’re facing. The most common answer: to become more independent. That experience, together with a keen interest in AI, set him on a journey to find a solution. “I’m a designer,” he says. “Finding solutions is what I do.”

He teamed up with Karthik K. and in early 2017, they laid the foundation of Envision. In only a year, they have developed software that can be applied to a number of different platforms and is currently available as a smartphone app. With it, visually impaired people can use their phone to take pictures of objects, people or scenes, and immediately understand what is in front of or around them. In their own language, too.

As the technology is based on AI, users can tag objects and faces, thus teaching the app to automatically recognize their personal belongings, as well as family, friends, and more.

“The market has shown that they need an intuitive design,” Karthik M. says. In making that possible, the two founders spent a lot of time observing how visually impaired people use the app.

“A lot of them operate it with voice, so audio output turned out to be very important,” Kathik K. adds. “That was something we learned along the way and made sure to adapt to.” As a result of catering to the specific needs of their customers, Envision has been enjoying an increasing number of users every month.

While AI has great potential in improving people’s lives and enhancing business processes alike, it is still largely dependent on human knowledge and interaction. Startups understand that and are ready to build a future where people and technology work hand-in-hand to make each other better.

 

Apply to the first AI / Blockchain Validation Lab in Europe

 

Tvilight

Lighting the future

For Chintan, not wasting energy is not just in his genes anymore. Today, it is also part of his entrepreneurial endeavor that goes by the name of Tvilight – a Netherlands based company that provides cities with intelligent lighting solutions in order to optimize energy use and cut down on light pollution. In short: Chintan is working towards the future of Smart Cities.

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
As a former engineer for an oil and gas company Chintan used to spend hours and hours on flights across Europe. The idea for Tvilight was born exactly on one of his evening flights. A look out the window made him notice “this amazing number of lights […] From above you can see whether there are people in the streets, which made me wonder how come so many lights are burning even when no one’s around.” Some initial research presented him with a number of curious findings. “There are over 300 million street lights around the world resulting in street light infrastructure costs of over 10 billion euros. And that’s only the cost of energy, maintenance excluded.”

This is the point where I thought we should do something about this. I understand that, for safety purposes, we need light, but we only need it when there are people around. So then I had the idea: to develop sensors, which would regulate the light intensity based on human presence.” The result would be up to 80% of energy saved.

THROUGH CHALLENGES AND LESSONS LEARNED
His next move was to go to his alma mater, TU Delft, where a professor was quick to believe in the potential of his idea. The experience was eye-opening: “People are willing to help you if they see a passion in you. They are ready to open a door for you, if you ask for it – and in my case, that’s all I needed. The rest was up to me.”

Via the university, Chintan received first financing for his project as well as the help of eight students from different TU Delft faculties. They launched a pilot version of the connected lighting system on campus in 2011 and were able to prove that it saves up to 80% of energy.

The success of this initial project attracted media attention, leading Chintan to receive customer requests from several municipalities in the Netherlands. Three of them agreed to give him a year to develop a commercial version of the system. Discussions with investors, banks and subsidy providers, in turn, helped him secure much-needed financing that gave him the stability and confidence to found Tvilight in early 2012.

… AND THROUGH YES!DELFT
In the spirit of working with professionals willing to help each other, Tvilight applied for – and got accepted into – YES!Delft’s Incubation Program in 2013. “In this entrepreneurial environment, I have been able to find like-minded people to work and exchange ideas with, as well as to help and learn from. Entrepreneurs constantly face challenges with technology, with finding resources, with financing. [At YES!Delft], we’re all in the same boat – and although our paths are different, the destination is similar, because we all want to fulfill our dream.”

In addition to being in direct contact with fellow entrepreneurs, Chintan has also taken plenty away from YES!Delft’s close ties to the university. Access to the labs and the right kind of talent has been an invaluable contribution to the development of Tvilight.

TO A GROWING COMPANY
Today, Tvilight has a team of 35, and the company wants to expand globally in the years to come. So far, the team runs more than 100 projects in over 10 countries, including a large one on the Dutch island of Texel. What’s more, with a recent investment by lighting industry giant OSRAM, Tvilight is looking to scale exponentially.

“I think this is the beginning of a new journey. It’s the beginning of Tvilight 2.0, where we want to make a product that will last long [and will go] beyond lighting.”

The company already offers several Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) applications like traffic heat maps, among others. For Chintan, the future of Tvilight is to continue on that path, yet on a much bigger, more prominent scale.

Milestones:
Q2 2011 – First demo ready
Q4 2011 – Arranged first angel investments
End of 2011 – First paying customers interested in Tvilight
January 2012 – Company founded
April 2013 – Series A investment secured
November 2016 – Osram invests in Tvilight

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