Tag: accelerate startup

Dimmes Doornhein

Dimmes Doornhein: A strong team is at the heart of every successful company

For a young startup, having a coach who has worked in a wide range of roles and markets sure is invaluable. And when you add to that his passion for building great teams and companies, there is little left you can ask for. Dimmes Doornhein is among YES!Delft’s Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR) – an experienced founder and investor himself – who is looking to share his knowledge with the new generation of young entrepreneurs.


At the age of 70, Dimmes not only has valuable lessons to share, but he also brings the type of energy and sparks that many young founders need to ignite their confidence. 

Having worked in the fields of city redevelopment, telecommunications – in particular during the liberalization of telecom companies in the 80s, to more recently being involved with newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Dimmes has a wide range of experiences to draw from and pass on to others. 

Yet, perhaps what he knows most about is not a specific field of technology. It is people. It is building and growing successful teams. 

“Throughout the years, I have worked in many multidisciplinary teams and what is characteristic about such teams is that on an individual basis, everyone is brilliant. But then you put them all together and things don’t always work.” In other words, a strong team needs the right chemistry, not just the brightest minds. 

Putting the right teams together and helping them shape the companies of tomorrow is one of the areas that Dimmes focuses on when coaching young founders. What’s more, he makes sure to create the environment entrepreneurs need to shine and grow as individuals, while contributing to the development of the wider team.

While he’s worked in a variety of roles during his career, Dimmes has most often ended up in the position of manager or CEO. In that, he has had hundreds of people working with him. 

Not for him, he emphasizes, with him. 

“The role of CEO is to be a leader and bring the best out of everyone,” he believes. “Probably half of the people I have worked with were smarter than me and I find it important to acknowledge that. It is important to give people the space to do what they are best at as they contribute to the goals of the team.”

Bringing market experience together with the knowledge of complex tech

What Dimmes likes most about working with young people is that he gets to bring both his successes and mistakes, while they bring inspiration, fresh ideas and insights on new technologies. In a way, it is the perfect recipe for bringing together real-life market experience with very specialized technologies.   

One of those technologies comes from the team of YES!Delft startup Flexous. Dimmes is currently with the team and believes their innovative approach to horology has the potential to revolutionize the watch industry. An industry that is hundreds of years old. “If you dare to revolutionize and you do it right, you can become really big,” he says.  

Over the past months, Dimmes has been mentoring the team of Flexous and now sits on their recently created advisory board. “I don’t know it all,” he admits, “but I am here to advise, ask the right questions and ignite people’s creativity.”  

Next to being the person that teams can get advice from, he also strives to be someone they can confide in. “I am there so people can talk to me and know that what they tell me will never leak.” In other words, he creates a safe space for teams to share and work out their differences. 

And why does he do all that? 

In his experience, it is really difficult to keep a team together. In fact, not having the right team and being able to move forward as one is among the three main reasons companies fail. It is, therefore, crucial that startups have things properly set up from the get-go.  

“You need to get things right from the start,” he says. “Think about this. If you leave the port of Rotterdam for New York and you make a mistake of two degrees – just two degrees – you will end up in Rio de Janeiro. This is why it is so important to have the right guidance and avoid any mistakes from the start.”  

Without a doubt, strong teams are at the heart of being successful. Yet, building such teams is easier said than done, especially for young entrepreneurs who have never experienced it before. For those within the YES!Delft community, the knowledge of how to do that is there. And Dimmes is one of the sources of that knowledge.  

Do you have a startup and would you like to enter our incubator, join our Validation Lab or Accelerator Program and meet our Entrepreneurs in Residence.

Flux Medical Systems: Alleviating the pains of administrative work for healthcare professionals

If you ever thought the workday of a healthcare professional was a busy and hectic one, you were, well, absolutely right. Add to that the fact that there are ever-higher numbers of patients for fewer healthcare professionals available and the workload continues to grow. One main challenge for workers in the sector is the amount of administration that comes with each new case or patient. Flux Medical Systems, a startup from the YES!Delft ecosystem was created to lessen this administrative strain and let healthcare professionals focus on what really matters – spending as much time as possible with their patients.

Less time spent on admin, more time spent with patients

Maja van Dijk, a co-founder of Flux, knows just how time-consuming administrative work can be in the healthcare sector. As a physical therapist herself – and the owner of a clinic – she is no stranger to long workdays. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she decided to take matters into her own hands and create a solution to this problem. 

“As healthcare professionals, we are already busy and we also have to do all the administrative work,” she says. “Quite often, I’ve had to finalize my paperwork on weekends.” 

This is not what Maja and many of her fellow colleagues want to be spending their time on. “Admin should never take away from doctors’ time to treat patients,” she is convinced. “With Flux, we want to alleviate the pains of administrative work for healthcare professionals.” 

Launched at the end of 2019, Flux has seen a number of milestones in just over two years. Together with her co-founders Thomas Schiet, a mathematician, and Jan Ferdinand Henseler, a medical doctor, Maja developed a solution that she could already test in her own day-to-day work. 

“Since I’ve been using Flux in my own work, I have had 30% more time,” she says. “Each professional can choose how to spend this extra time, but for me, it is about spending it with patients.”

The first step that Maja and her team took was to create a solution that can automate the revenue cycle, as bookkeeping and financial administration is a rather time-consuming endeavor for healthcare professionals and small clinics. Then they continued on to optimizing other processes, too.

“Our goal is for businesses in the healthcare sector to gain insights into their work through process optimization,” Veerle de Brouwer, Customer Engagement, Sales & Marketing Developer at Flux, explains further. “Next to lowering the manual effort that goes into administrative tasks, our solution can also facilitate the exchange of information so professionals can securely access patient information and grow their business in the way they want to.” 

At the moment, Flux is targeting mainly physiotherapy and dental hygiene professionals but has plans to expand to hospitals and perhaps even the pharma industry as well. The product is already fully compatible with the tools the Dutch healthcare system works with, so scaling it will only be a matter of time.

On to new milestones and further growth

Because of the need to make the healthcare system more efficient – and quickly so – Maja and her team have not wasted time rolling out their solution. They currently have several paid pilot projects underway, the benefits of which are two-fold. On the one hand, they provide initial revenues to the company, while on the other, they are a great way for the team to learn and improve their product.

“Pilots are great for collecting feedback and designing a solution that really works for healthcare professionals,” Maja says. 

Next to these initial revenues, Flux has also been funded by family and friends and a loan from InnovationQuarter. The team is also in discussions with other parties, so they sure have big plans ahead of them. 

While they want to establish themselves in the Netherlands first, they are already looking into the possibilities of expanding abroad. “Our commercialization plan is ready and once our solution has been embraced by the Dutch market, we will look to other countries with similar healthcare systems, such as Denmark, Germany, France, and the UK,” Veerle says. The platform is even available in multiple languages so when the time comes, it wouldn’t take long to roll it out. 

Of course, having progressed so quickly hasn’t been without the help of experts and fellow entrepreneurs from the YES!Delft community. Having been through a number of YES!Delft’s programs, including AI/Blockchain Validation Lab, the Accelerator, and the SocialTech program, the team of Flux has learned a lot about what it’s like to run an innovative business. 

“Perhaps the most important learning was to never stop validating,” Maja says. “We’ve learned to keep an open mind, accept new ideas and talk to our customers on a regular basis.” 

It has surely been an exciting journey for Maja, Veerle, and the rest of the team so far, and by the sound of their ambitious plans, they have plenty more to look forward to in the future.


Wolter Wefers Bettink

Wolter Wefers Bettink: Look out for the sharks

After a successful career of 28 years as a lawyer and partner at various renowned law firms, Wolter Wefers Bettink decided to dedicate a day per week to advising startups on topics like intellectual property, negotiating, dealing with conflicts and other legal matters. 

As a partner at Houthoff in 2012, he initiated a program providing legal support to startup companies. The main driver was the realisation that startups often do not have their legal matters adequately set up, which may only become apparent when an investor conducts due diligence. At the age of 62, he retired at Houthoff, and it was Duke Urbanik (Entrepreneur in Residence) who convinced him to join YES!Delft as a Legal Counsel in Residence in 2015.

Intellectual Property

At YES!Delft Wolter could advise founders to set things up correctly from the start instead of stepping in when things had already gone wrong. “IP is key”, Wolter says. “In Delft, there are two major IP areas of importance: Patents on technical inventions and software copyright. It is important to be informed about the possibilities and the consequences for various scenarios.”

Most of the time, startups start with a couple of founders that have an idea (often they are friends), they set up an organisation and start working together. If, after some time, one of the founders decides to leave and start a new adventure and nothing was agreed on intellectual property or copyright, this may create a severe hazard to the organisation. What if the person leaving takes their contribution with them to a new organisation?

It is gratifying to give startups the information they need at the right time

Over the past seven years, Wolter has seen many companies spread their wings and fly. He is proud and happy to have contributed to the success of these startups. “It is gratifying to give startups the information they need at the right time,” Wolter says. He has seen some successful companies from close by that started with a group of students, like, for example, Swapfiets. They began in 2015 and have grown into 1500 employees in four different countries, taken over by Pon in 2019. Another example Wolter has advised from the start is ParkBee, a company that quickly grew out of the YES!Delft facilities and is now scaling up internationally.

“It is important that entrepreneurs are correctly informed about their rights concerning Intellectual Property and patents. Lack of appropriate information about their rights could result in contracts they regret later. In 2020 a new regulation was created by VSNU and NFU, which calls for transparency and fair dealings with (student-)entrepreneurs,” Wolter says. “Another important element is the fact that master students have the right to request an embargo for their thesis. Thereby, they have the opportunity to apply for a patent for an invention made in the master phase, before the information becomes public.” The same applies to agreements startup founders make with clients in the case of a pilot.

A network is an essential benefit

Sometimes startups deal with issues that are too complex to discuss in a couple of hours or they require specific expertise. In these cases, Wolter referred the startups to lawyers, patent attorneys or civil law notaries in his network that could help. This network is an essential benefit of the Entrepreneurs in Residence at YES!Delft. Wolter is realistic about networks too and says: “My network watered down a bit”.

In 2019 he realised it was essential to add legal expertise in investments, shareholders agreements and financing, and he introduced Philip van Verschuer, a former partner at Loyens & Loeff. Philip is continuing his work as Legal Counsel in Residence at YES!Delft. To make up for Wolter’s departure, YES!Delft is partnering with several law firms, where startups can purchase legal advice on contracts and IP at reasonable rates. Another positive development he has seen over the years is that YES!Delft is currently more focused on funding, which is crucial for startups.

What is the best advice for young entrepreneurs thinking of starting a company?

Wolter indicates that the most crucial element is creating a team of good people who click together. This is one of the reasons that part of the YES!Delft Accelerator program focuses on team analysis.

In addition to this, it is essential to have endurance and resilience to keep going. There will be rough moments in the entrepreneurial journey, and persistence will pull you thru.

Furthermore, you should be able to make the right decisions at the right time. This sometimes means you need to say goodbye to people who are not a good fit for your organisation, or develop a new product when there is no market for the original one.

And last but not least: Look out for the sharks! Become streetwise and do not agree to any binding contracts with people with different intentions.

After seven years, we say goodbye to Wolter. We are very thankful for all the energy Wolter put into our startups. Looking ahead into the future, Wolter indicated he would like to stay active and spend more time with his family. He will also remain active as a mediator in his own company Wefers Bettink, perhaps do some writing and give legal advice to startups if requested. There will undoubtedly be interesting new challenges on his path!


Editorial note: If you would like to find more information about Intellectual property and the legal position for TU Delft students, visit: https://www.tudelft.nl/en/student/legal-position/intellectual-property

Do you want to see who and what can help you in your way to startup? Then visit the TU Delft Campus website to find an overview of the several programmes, events and parties.

Do you have a startup and would you like to enter our incubator, join our Validation Lab or Accelerator Program and meet our Entrepreneurs in Residence.



Venturi Aviation: Building the future of electric commercial air travel

The energy transition is upon us and while it may still be in its early days, it is bound to happen. For Jan-Willem Heinen, that’s a no-brainer. And as an industrial engineer and entrepreneur, he is determined to leave his positive mark on the environment.  

With several entrepreneurial endeavors already behind him, Jan-Willem has been working on sustainable solutions for years now, yet it is perhaps the latest venture, co-founded with fellow entrepreneur and former aviation engineer Joost Dieben, that is set to make some real big impact. Together, they co-founded Venturi Aviation – with the ambitious goal to create the first electric commuter plane. 

And to avoid keeping their audience in the dark for too long, earlier this month they announced their plans and the concept of their first aircraft: Echelon 01. Last Thursday, they finally unveiled their all-electric, 44-passenger aircraft.

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An electric commuter aircraft – now more tangible than ever

The reveal of the Echelon One concept was a moment Jan-Willem, Joost and industry stakeholders had been looking forward to for some time. While small electric aircraft have been in development over the past years, none of them were actual passenger planes. The move of Venturi is a step forward not only in helping decarbonize aviation but also in setting a new technological standard in the industry.

Surely, this is not an overnight project, so Venturi aims to complete its first aircraft by 2029. “Our aircraft will drive the 100% sustainable transformation of today’s regional air travel industry. In its wake, Echelon 01 will also significantly reduce flight operating cost, maintenance cost and noise pollution,” Jan-Willem says. 

As Jan Willem grew up in an entrepreneurial family – his father founded his own company aimed at commercializing and integrating e-mobility solutions, it was only a matter of time for Jan-Willem and his co-fonder to embrace sustainability and create something of his own. 

After graduating from the TU Eindhoven in Industrial Design (BSc) and Innovation Management (MSc), he founded ViriCiti – a company that developed a monitoring system for fully electric buses. It became a European leader in its market and was eventually acquired by American electric vehicle infrastructure company ChargePoint.

Alongside this first venture, he founded a second one, too. Maxem, initially a SaaS energy management system, later made a pivot to a hardware and cloud solutions company that enables customers to install e-mobility and sustainable energy at scale. It was around that time that Joost joined the team and the two got to planning even bigger and better things. 

I felt like with Maxem I also had only limited success and I wanted to have more impact. And what makes more impact than creating an electric aircraft,” Jan-Willem says. With Joost’s background in aviation engineering, it didn’t take long for them to lay the foundation of Venturi Aviation.  

Embarking on a long and capital-intensive journey 

Designing and developing a new type of aircraft, especially based on some of the latest technology out there, is inspiring but it cannot possibly come without its fair share of challenges. 

“With Venturi, our initial plan was to create a commuter plane that could transport 50 people and have a range of 1,000km,” Jan-Willem says. “That was the estimate we made in August 2020.” Yet, because they are in the early stages of a long-term project, the two co-founders knew they needed to make very accurate estimates. 

“Batteries are heavy, but the aircraft needs to be light. We soon realized that the range of 1000km was impossible to make even with the technology of the near future, so we started to cut it down.” 

In the midst of this, Jan-Willem and Joost got in touch with Dutch Airliners and the input they gathered set them on the path they are now. With the expectation being that the number of people travelling by air will grow in the future, airliners main requirement for such a future aircraft was to hold the highest possible number of passengers.  

“A shorter flight range was not a concern for them,” Jan-Willem says, “as the batteries for a frequently operating electric aircraft would need to be replaced every 1.5-2 years, and the technology will be gradually improving in the meantime. The range will come.”

At the moment, the Echelon 01 is being designed to transport 44 people at a distance of up to 550km.

Running such a long-term business sure requires a strong vision. For the team, this translates to: Electrifying aviation and decreasing the industry’s burden on the environment. 

Of course, “it also requires planning, patience, cash and a great team,” as Jan-Willem puts it. It is a capital-intensive endeavor, and it also needs the right people backing it. “Our main challenge is getting people to believe this is possible.”

a group of people posing for a photo

To date, Jan-Willem and Joost have put a lot of their own finances to get the project going and they were later joined by several angel investors. At the start of 2022, they aim to close an investment round of 3.75 million euros that will allow them to move on to the next stage of the development: conceptual design. With that, they will also look to expand – and possibly double – their team. 

“Delivering an electric aircraft is hard,” Jan-Willem says, “but we are driven by the goal that we will make a polluting industry so much better.”


Art de Boo

Art de Boo: The Entrepreneur in Residence committed to growing innovative deep tech solutions

Art de Boo is one of YES!Delft’s Entrepreneurs in Residence and if there is someone who knows how to make deep tech startups a success, it would have to be him. With a background in corporate finance and over 10 years working at TNO, including in corporate venturing, he understands that complex technologies take not only a lot of time, but human and financial resources, too. Coaching current startups from the YES!Delft ecosystem is where he sees a great fit to pass on some of his knowledge. 

Seeing through the tech that takes 5-10 years to make an impact

Next to being a consultant and having worked in various management positions within TNO, Art has also had his fair share of entrepreneurial experiences, too. “In 2013, I got a piece of the action. I made a business plan and raised funding to carve out the fungal biotech department of TNO and created Dutch DNA Biotech.”

One of the key challenges in making the spin-off a success was to make sure that it had enough financial resources to sustain itself until the technology was ready for the market. 

“There is no blueprint for how to nurture and scale a high-tech startup,” Art says. “Each company, team, technology, market have their own challenges over time. Funding deep tech is one of them. Although it has been changing over the years, it’s still difficult to do so in the Netherlands and Europe. It is different from SaaS solutions that are easier to scale and have a shorter time-to-market.” 

In the case of Dutch DNA, Art found the solution in creating long-term strategic partnerships. “I aligned with strategic partners and reached out to them for their extended expertise to build the technology. They would invest a certain amount of money and own part of the technology / IP, but it was still developed under the umbrella of Dutch DNA. That’s how we financed our company.” 

In July 2021, Dutch DNA was sold to US bioengineering company Gingko Bioworks, becoming its first acquisition in Europe. 

“I have always been excited about applying technology to industry,” Art says. And while the company he founded was in industrial biotech, there is a much wider range of product-market combinations he can help grow. As long it is high tech and there is a click with the founders, Art is happy to reach out. 

Daphne Textiles, a startup from the YES!Delft community that participated in our Accelerator Program last year, is among the companies that Art has been advising over the past months. The team is working on innovative bio fabrication techniques that would allow the fashion industry to become more sustainable, yet their challenge is: How can they make the process of growing cell cultures as cheap and efficient as possible? 

“To help them with this, I connected them with industry experts and advised them on reaching out to strategic partners. Fundraising is a topic at the moment, so we discuss the way to deal with VCs,” Art says. 

In depth understanding and personal match 

Most of the time, Art starts off by having an in-depth talk with the founders to understand their dynamics, goals and the challenges they face. “Next to getting to know a bit of the dynamics of the company, these talks enable me to find out whether there is a cultural or personal match. There should be a good personal fit, preferably with a dose of humor, to talk about potential blind spots of the founder team.” 

If there is a match, Art helps the founders to validate or re-define the goals they set themselves. “The goals can and will change over time, of course, so it’s important to iterate periodically, if not continuously. From these goals, we back engineer what is needed in the here and now. What should be tomorrow’s priorities – recruitment, funding or strategic alliances, to name a few.” 

For Art, the most exciting part about coaching early-stage companies with deep tech solutions is that it’s always a combination of purpose and energy. 

“As there is no blueprint, you can start with only energy and a good idea. With a few sketches on the wall. Then you move on to manifesting those rough ideas and with the help of an energetic team, in 2-5 years you’re working with partners, VCs and more. You cannot find this in any corporate environment.” 

Essentially, it boils down to the right combination of passion, perseverance, patience and impatience, all in its proper timing, to develop an innovative technology into a company the world really needs. 



Unpluq team

Unpluq: The startup that makes your smartphone less of a distraction

Technology is all around and so much so, in fact, that most of us are dependent on the internet or our mobile devices to stay connected with the world around us. On the one hand, that’s great – it brings all of us closer together in ways that were previously unthought of. On the other, though, it can also be a source of major distraction. This is what Tim Smits and Jorn Rigter, co-founders of YES!Delft startup Unpluq, realized while at university and they took it upon themselves to create a solution. 

A personal frustration turns into a business 

Tim and Jorn have always thought that it would be cool to start something together. “While studying Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft, we noticed that we were easily distracted by all the apps we had on our smartphones. And that’s a problem that a lot of other students have nowadays, too,” Tim says. The two of them, thus, saw this as an opportunity to create a new type of solution that would make smartphones less of a distraction. 

And so, their entrepreneurial journey began. 

“We first took part in a six-month program at the university called Build Your Startup and during that time, we interviewed a lot of people on how they interacted with their smartphones and if they found them to be a distraction.” Needless to say, a lot of them did. 

The true value of the Build Your Startup program was to help Tim and Jorn validate their idea and understand the depth of the problem they were trying to solve. “Of course, there were already existing solutions to minimize distraction, like setting reminders and limitations on the phone itself,” Tim says. Yet, what they wanted to achieve was a more lasting solution; something that would keep the smartphone and its user away from distraction in a more tangible way.

So, what they came up with was a physical key that would remove distracting apps from the user’s smartphone. In other words, plug in this physical key and you have access to your distracting apps. Take it out and your phone is stripped down to just its “normal” functions. 

Important to understand about the concept of Unpluq is that everyone can define for themselves what distracting apps really are. While the team offers a preselection and a list of tips, it is up to each user to decide what these apps are – or should be. That way everyone can judge for themselves what they consider to be taking away from their productive time. 

Validating, pivoting and looking towards new markets

At the end of the program, Tim and Jorn launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising 10,000 euros. They describe it as their “first validation moment”, especially as they reached their target. Most of their customers are millennials and Generation Z users and while most physical keys have been sold within the Netherlands, Unpluq has also had interest from abroad. 

Since then, though, their business model has taken a new turn. “While we started out with a hardware solution, we have since moved mostly to software,” Tim says. “Hardware tends to limit growth, software is more scalable. We willmay introduce a mixed model soonlater on, where the Unpluq app is the basis and the hardware product is an add-on that users can choose to buy.” 

In order for the software solution to work as well as the physical key, Tim and Jorn have identified, what they call, “distraction barriers” as a key feature. Since all apps – distracting or not – would now be one the user’s phone, there need to be barriers to getting into the distracting apps too easily. By introducing distraction barriers, Unpluq would require users to shake their phone until a meter is filled or scan a QR codemove to have their apps unlocked, to name a few.

“Our physical key was what made us unique and now so are our distraction barriers. They are not the same as simply blocking apps,” Tim says.

Less distraction, more life

To date, the team has raised close to 1400,000 euros and are currently raising another round on leapfunder. After that they are aiming for a larger round of investment, which would help them expand to the US – their next big market, as they see it. That would also allow them to hire their first full-time employee and further grow their team. 

Unpluq is also looking to branch out to new customer segments and approach employers with their solutions. “We want to start selling to companies that want to offer our tool as an option to their employees. It is very relevant in the time of remote working when it’s easier to get distracted.”

Tim and Jorn currently have a team of interns who help them in a number of different aspects of the startup’s development. The two co-founders have also benefited from the expert network of YES!Delft and even have fellow entrepreneurs from the community as their advisors. “Having such a strong support network has been very valuable for us starting out,” Tim says. 

And it’s only up from here. Going forward, the team will be working towards the iPhone version of Unpluq and further developing their software, diversifying their customer portfolio in the Netherlands and raising funds to expand internationally. 


Are you inspired by this entrepreneurial journey and interested to give your startup a boost? Then join one of the programs we offer at YES!Delft; Validation lab or Accelerator Program. If you would like to work at a startup in our ecosystem, check out the vacancies on our homepage!


Aquablu: Eliminating single-use plastics, one water bottle at a time

Almost 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute. In one year, that number goes as high as 480 billion. This is what a report found back in 2019 and those numbers are likely to keep increasing in the future. Finding alternatives to single-use plastics, and in particular water bottles, has thus become a priority embraced by governments as well as businesses.

Aquablu, a Dutch startup from the YES!Delft ecosystem, is one of those companies working towards a more plastic-free future. With their smart water purifying technology, the team have set themselves the ambitious goal to eliminate 1 billion bottles by 2030. 

But how did it all start?

A few years back, co-founder Marnix Stokvis was on a trip to South Africa when he got the idea for what is now known as Aquablu. “I was in Cape Town, surfing, when I encountered the plastic problem South Africa was facing,” he says. “Plastic pollution was very evident there, and especially so in the water. It got me thinking about water accessibility and what could be done to minimize the use of plastic bottles.”  

Marnix reached out to his friend and soon to be fellow co-founder Marc van Zuylen and the two turned his initial idea into a business concept. They founded Aquablu at the end of 2016 and started developing their first water purification system. Yet, their ambition went way beyond a single product. 

“We came together around one core mission and that was to enable a plastic-free world,” Marc says. 

In working towards that mission, Marc and Marnix knew that their solution would also be an ambitious one. They set off to develop a smart purification system that would not only provide clean drinking water, but also feed its users a wide range of data about the quality of the water and the technical status of the system, among others. In the spirit of personalization, it also makes it possible for users to quantify their positive impact on the environment by knowing just how much water they have purified with their Aquablu system. 

The smart technology behind the solution plays another important role, too. The fact that their technology can monitor how much water is being purified with their systems enables them to make very specific promises. 

“Together with the Made Blue Foundation, an entrepreneurial charity in the Netherlands, we offer the Liter for Liter promise. That means for every liter of water that is purified with our systems, a liter of clean drinking water is donated to places where it is a scarcity,” Marnix says. 

Purifying water – at home and abroad

And while Aquablu has a global mission, the team has made the conscious choice to start at home before they expand far and wide. “Our  initial idea was to sell internationally – and we did that. We delivered our system to 13 different countries,” Marc says. But with time, he and Marnix kept talking to people around them and realized that even in the Netherlands, where there is access to clean drinking tap water, many still buy single-use plastic bottles. “We decided to tackle the issue at home first.”

Since then, they have tweaked their business approach and are mostly focusing on the local B2B market with their Aquablu Refill solution, which transforms “ordinary tap water into purified mineral water.” Large offices and commercial buildings have been among their key customers. As of recently, they are also running a pilot project with supermarket chain Jumbo. 

“We currently have our system at a Jumbo supermarket in Amsterdam, where customers can either refill their own bottle or buy an Aquablu bottle with purified water,” Marnix says. The goal for the future is to expand their offering to more supermarkets and become a feasible alternative to bottled water. 

While already having its own revenue flow, the startup is still dependent on external funding – so far made available by family and an investor – in order to scale its R&D and production. Once they are well established in the Netherlands, the team will look to expand to the rest of Benelux, Germany and then further into Europe. 

“In up to three years, we are aiming at total domination in Europe,” Marc and Marnix laugh but they sure mean it. “After Europe, we will expand towards either the US or Asia. It depends where the need is greater and where we find reliable partners first.” 

The plan ahead of the two co-founders and their team is big but after all, their goal is to eliminate 1 billion bottles by 2030. Ambitious as they are, “we think we can even exceed it.”

Are you inspired by this story and would you like to boost your business and become part of the YES!Delft ecosystem as well? Sign up for our accelerator program!

If you would like to work for a startup like Aquablu check out our vacancies and become visible to more than 300 startups in the YES!Delft ecosystem.


Flux Medical Systems

Flux Medical Systems

Flux is a Health Management System that optimizes the workflow of medical professionals so that they can do what they do best: provide excellent patient care.

SLAM Orthopedic

SLAM Orthopedic

SLAM Orthopedic is developing a technology for orthopedic surgery, specifically fracture care using metal screws and plates. Our goal is to help surgeons operate more effectively and efficiently. To do this we have created a sensor that gathers data during drilling and shows the required screw length immediately. This eliminates the need for manual measurement of the bore depth which is imprecise and error-prone, improving the lives of the surgeons and the patients.



1 in 5 men worldwide suffers from erectile dysfunction (ED). Using a home-based digital MedTech solution, Prognoix provides reliable ED analysis that improves clinical outcomes for ED treatment.

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