Tag: ai startups

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.

 

Apply to the AI/Blockchain Validation Lab

 

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.

 

Meet like-minded entrepreneurs!
Join Co-Lab!

 

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

The startup mentor with customer perspective

Jan Willem Klerkx – entrepreneur, investor, and startup mentor of a number of YES!Delft startups – is the type of person that helps a company become a success story. With an academic background in Technology Management and early professional experience in IT sales, he quickly discovered that what he was actually meant to do is help businesses grow.

The revelation came early on in his career. He was asked to lead a small IT company that, at the time, was closing the year with a loss, so he made it his goal to turn it around. A few years of hard work later, that company was as profitable as never before. The thing was that, although the team already had a good business strategy before Jan Willem took over, it was simply not successful in executing it.

Strategy without customer-focused execution has little value, Jan Willem learned.  

“As I was helping that business grow by making the company more customer-oriented, I realized that I was sitting on the wrong side of the table at the quarterly shareholders meeting. I was making a lot of money for the shareholders, while taking home the same paycheck every month. That didn’t feel optimal,” Jan Willem recalls.

That was the point where he decided to develop his own approach. “I decided to look for companies with a great vision, excellent tech team, and technology, but with little focus on customers or little experience in sales. Then I’d invest money in exchange for equity, and work with the existing team on making them profitable.”

He told those teams that a great technology by itself does not lead to a great product. And even a great product does not equal a great company. A company should put all efforts and finding the right product-market fit, and once that’s done, turn early customers into ambassadors.

Over the past decade, Jan Willem has invested in and worked for five companies, two of which were acquired by Qualcomm, the world leader in developing 3G and mobile technologies. The first company, Euvision, was a market leader in image classification technology. The second, Scyfer was a leading company in Deep Learning, formed around Deep Learning celebrity Max Welling from the University of Amsterdam. One of the five ventures was focussed at elderly homecare and failed completely. The other two companies, SIG.eu and BONCode, are still in very good shape and growing.

As of four years ago, Jan Willem has also been active as a startup mentor at YES!Delft as well as at a number of other incubators. With a keen interest and expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), he is coaching startups as part of the AI/Blockchain Validation Lab at Delft-based incubator.

 

Apply for the AI/Blockchain Validation Lab

His experience is in helping find the best product-market fit. Finding that fit is not that easy, since most startups lack experience in sales or insight in how big corporates operate – and therefore have a hard time to really grasp the relevant part of customers’ feedback. On top of that, some startups tend to be so convinced of their technology or product that it does not help sales either. And in the mind of Jan Willem: “Sales is everything, the rest is cost”.

Nowi, a YES!Delft startup developing climate sensors powered by WiFi, 4G and GSM signals, is one of the tech startups that has taken much of Jan Willem’s advice to heart. And especially so when it comes to their business model. While they used to focus on product sales as a sole revenue stream, they have recently established a second one: working directly with clients on applying their technology to various products.
“We already generate some revenues by applying our knowledge on energy harvesting and by developing the so-called ‘Plug & Forget’ sensors in pilot projects for various customers,” says Simon van der Jagt, CEO of Nowi. “Jan Willem has helped us with anything from business model ideation, to specific advice on how to best deal with a prospective large customer, or simply testing our assumptions with critical questions.”

To this day, Jan Willem remains a startup mentor to the team.

“I help startups get the customer perspective,” Jan Willem says. “Many of them have these huge dreams – and that’s great! But running a business is not a dream. It’s a lot of hard work of really understanding why customers might consider buying your stuff.”

 

Apply for the Complex Tech Validation Lab

Get in touch



© Copyright 2019 YES!Delft