Getting investment as a startup is such a challenge that there are specific hurdles, one of which is the Valley of Death. YES!Funded team from YES!Delft aims to demystify this challenge during the Rotterdam Capital Days with a dedicated event. During September 18th – 22nd, the three-day event aims to demystify the world of capital, boosting access to funding for startups and scaleups. Ultimately, with the goal of connecting entrepreneurs and investors. Anyone with an interest in how to attract and raise capital in the area of Rotterdam is invited. Mainly, there will be investors – angels, corporate venture, venture capital, impact, public, and more. YES!Delft service YES!Funded will host an event about the so-called Valley of Death in funding.
What is the Valley of Death?
Jan Geert van Hall, the investment director at YES!Delft describes the Valley of Death as a European problem – the funding gap startups almost inevitably run into. This funding gap usually comes about around the time they have a well-working prototype and some paying pilot customers but need a financial boost to start production and activate sales. At this point, the startups are too advanced for government subsidies, and at the same time too early stage for VC’s. At least in Europe. During the YES!Delft dedicated event at Rotterdam Capital Days, Jan Geert and guests will share the experiences of YES!Funded about the Valley of Death and explore possible solutions to this problem.
Through the YES!Delft service YES!Funded startups can get help with financial lifecycle planning and securing the right funds. The initiative is lead by YES!Delft investment director Jan Geert van Hall, who employs his decades of experience in tech and finance to help tomorrow’s leading firms. Is your startup is looking for its first investment or your startup is further down the road? Here Jan Geert shares his top five tips that are essential to make and keep your startup investor-ready. Join YES!Funded at the Rotterdam Capital Days, and learn about bridging the Valley of Death.
1. Financial forecasting
“The ability to look ahead and anticipate for the future is a basic entrepreneurial financial skill. The lack of such a vision within a company is a definite red flag as it shows a lack of financial discipline.”
2. Top team
“This is a big one. First off, the chances of receiving investment are very low if you are a single founder. Ideally, you have a team of people with different disciplines. Secondly, there is a shared long term vision in the company. Especially the founders should be on the same page and have the same ultimate goals, whether that is an acquisition or scaling up.”
3. Intellectual property
“IP is another facet investors will look at, and for several reasons. First, to make sure you will be able to defend your product from infringement. But parallel to that, they want to understand what it is your product is capable of and the problems it claims to solve. Why is your product unique, and why hasn’t it been invented before?”
4. Checking important milestones
“Having a roadmap with milestones and a clear vision is essential. It shows your estimated worth at each milestone but also the amount of money you need to get there is invaluable when presenting yourself to investors. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it demonstrates you understand your product, your market and you have thought about de-risking your proposition.”
5. Quantify the risks
In conclusion, everything comes down to this. When you look from the perspective of the investor, you want to be able to assess the risk of your investment. Sure, you can never completely eliminate risk, but startups who can at least show an understanding or can quantify the risks and milestones, have a stronger case for investors.”
Make sure not to miss the event Bridging the Valley of Death during the Rotterdam Capital Days!
Twenty-three billion. About this many were the connected devices in the world in 2018, and this number is not here to stay: In less than a decade, it is expected to triple. That is a good 75 billion devices, connected and in need of constant supply of power.
The team of NOWI figured that using cables and changing batteries would soon become overwhelming – to say the least, so they created a solution – a small chip that enables Internet of Things devices to live forever. Instead of needing to continuously bring energy to connected devices in the form of cables and battery changes, NOWI’s technology enables companies to use the energy that is already available around the devices. This can be light, heat, movement or even radio waves.
The power of IoT technology
For co-founders Simon van der Jagt and Omar Link, the idea behind NOWI shaped up gradually while they studied Strategic Product Design at the TU Delft. The program gave them a kickstart: It taught them how to give meaning to technology and use it to solve problems. And so, Simon and Omar decided to apply their knowledge to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Today, technology is getting better, smaller and as energy efficient as ever before, so powering devices requires only a fraction of the energy that was needed decades ago. The question of how to harvest that power is one that Simon and Omar seem to have an answer to: by using the signals that are all around us.
“Energy is all around us. Even the light from lamps in an office, or the temperature difference between our skin and the air can generate enough power to sustain low-power devices. At the moment, frequencies [such as WiFi] are mostly used for communication, but they also send out power,” says Simon.
Join the ComplexTech Validation Lab!
Growing with the help of industry experts
After a bit over a year of founding their company in July 2015, Simon and Omar became part of Yes!Delft’s program. At the time, their team consisted of five people, including a professor from TU Delft. Since then, they have won several international innovation awards and completed an investment round. Most recently, the company has secured a 1-million-euro investment from RVO – The Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
“YES!Delft is one of the highest rated incubators in Europe, and especially when it comes to hardware startups. It is really about problem-solving. There’s [also] so much knowledge walking around here, and that has been very valuable to us,” says Simon.
Since August 2015, the company has developed their proof-of-principle to a product-ready chip that has recently been combined with Huawei’s NB-IoT chip at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.
Finding the right partners to collaborate with
From a startup, NOWI has grown to be a high-tech company with several pilot projects and collaborations established with market-leading companies in smart city applications, smart wearables and NB-IoT sensors.
In the fields of smart wearables, NOWI has caught the attention of Swiss watch manufacturer MMT. The world’s first Plug&ForgetTM smart watch which never requires user-charging can be achieved when the NOWI Power Module is integrated in the MMT smartwatch module.
Recently, NOWI also announced its collaboration with Huawei to create the first energy autonomous NB-IoT solution.
Together with seven patents in energy harvesting, NOWI has won several international innovation awards including the Accenture Innovation Awards, the Semiconductor Innovation Award from Chinese Advanced Semiconductor Association (CASA) and the IoT Innovation World Cup 2019.
A story with the potential to get bigger and better has just only started.
Join the Accelerator Program!
- July 2015: Company founded
- March 2016: Demo and proof of concept
- August 2016: Prototype ready
- November 2016: Won the Accenture Innovation Award
- May 2017: Won the Smart City Innovation Award
- August 2017: Smart City Pilot project with DEWA – Dubai
- October 2017: Smart Road Pilot project with BAM and T-Mobile
- March 2018: Received €5m Venture Capital investment
- October 2018: Collaboration with MMT to create the first hybrid smartwatch
- November 2018: Semiconductor innovation award from Chinese Advanced Semiconductor Association (CASA)
- January 2019: Raised €1 million from RVO – The Netherlands Enterprise Agency
- February 2019: Won the 2019 IoT Innovation World Cup Series – Industrial Category.
- March 2019: First hybrid smartwatch PMIC prototype
- June 2019: Collaboration with Huawei to create an energy autonomous NB-IoT Solution
Birds flying high, it can be a real danger – and costly hassle – around airports or on oil platforms, for example. Well, it’s a new dawn in bird control. An animal and ‘hertz’ friendly solution, that makes birds and humans feel good. Bird Control Group has developed a laser that keeps birds away from commercial exploitations, saving major companies millions in damage each year.
FROM ONE SIMPLE IDEA
Founder Steinar Henskes is more entrepreneur than an academic. In 2010, after dropping out of university, he started selling ready-made laser technology. With an interest in lasers and technology, this smart golden boy started developing his own products. He experimented with one of his lasers in a field and noticed that birds flew away. After that, Steinar perfected the technology and took it to market: each year there is over 25 million euro worth of damage done by geese in the agricultural field.
Bird Control Group started selling handheld lasers to farmers.
Yet, Steinar has always had a wish for developing a technology that could serve the aviation industry. So he just wrote an e-mail to someone he thought was important at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, got himself a deal with one of the biggest airports in Europe, and perfected his technology once again.
Steinar is not a bird watcher, nor is he an environmental activist. He wants to do something good for the world with his technology. So he applied to YES!Delft in 2013, because he wanted his company and small team of engineers to grow and serve more industries. The tech incubator was, according to Steinar, an obvious choice being a high-tech company serving the B2B market.
Without YES!Delft’s network, partners and reputation, Bird Control Group would not have the authority they do now within their market. But, “you are responsible for your own success”, Steinar underlines. At YES!Delft he felt challenged by the other startups – his peers – to just get his company to a higher altitude.
TO A GROWING COMPANY
Bird Control Group is now the market leader in developing and manufacturing automated laser bird repellents. There are conventional methods, but these are noisy, unfriendly to birds and only ‘treat the symptoms’. The challenge for Bird Control Group is to make companies aware of their alternatives. Their ambition is to solve more issues in bird control that could not be solved before.
And that’s also Steinar’s personal ambition as an entrepreneur.
Bird Control Group still resides happily in the YES!Delft building. Steinar describes their workplace as “somewhere where you can actually get some work done”; he likes the functionality of the YES! offices and space. It’s a melting pot of (cultural) backgrounds with English as a common language.
What’s more, Bird Control Group opened their North American office a few years ago. The company solves bird issues all over the world at farms, industrial warehouses, refineries, feedlots, airports, and many more applications.
Apply to the Complex Tech Validation Lab
- July 2013 – laser installation at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- September 2014 – contract with Total E&P Nederland
- November 2014 – the launch of Agrilaser Autonomic
- December 2015 – adaption of a resolution by the Dutch Parliament to stimulate the use of Bird Control Group lasers
- March 2016 – take-over of U.S. based distributor