START! #3 | December 2013
WORST APPS INTERVIEW
MY FIRST CUSTOMER
WIN A SENZ UMBRELLA!
Editorial A new year, a new magazine. Starting something new often requires suffering, sweating and in due time celebrating success. Every entrepreneur has to experience hardships before their effort is rewarded. A path developed inside YES!Delft using four pillars shows students the way. From inspiration, activation, education to realisation the path has been paved where once start-up swamps existed. Starting this year with a new team, we took the time to revamp the magazine. Now each page is colour coded to reflect these pillars making this magazine one for all students to embrace. The articles are more accessible, answering a broad range of questions. Next to this, to understand entrepreneurs a little more we underwent the Global Entrepreneurs Week and reported, in short, what activities you can experience at YES!Delft Students. We also have a small contest for you. Are you a true entrepreneur? Find the contest in this magazine and win a Senz umbrella for the stormy winter. But above all, we hope you enjoy reading this magazine as much as we enjoyed creating it. Hugo de Jong
my first customer: delft inversion
disdrometrics rain sensor
Colophon The START! is the informational magazine by YES!Delft Students. Editor-in-Chief Hugo de Jong Team Content Bernhard Sombekke, Titia Kuipers Team Design Koen de Veth, Bob Wouterlood Team Acquisition Susanne Verstegen, Marc Barendse QQâ€™er YES!Delft Students Maarten Vrouenraets
housing anywhere Contributors David Markey, Tim Horeman, Niels van Deuren, Jeroen Netten, Laura Rozendahl Huber, Daniel van der Horst, Peter Haffinger Photoâ€™s made by Haalbeeld Fotografie, Mirjam van der Hoek, Delft Inversion, Disdrometrics 3.000 copies (Published trimesterly) DeltaHage bv, Den Haag YES!Delft Students Molengraaffsingel 12-14 2629 JD Delft +31 (0)15 2784290 www.yesdelftstudents.nl
Nothing from this magazine may be reproduced by other parties
Sections The Young
A Simple Idea
Top 10 10 YES!Delft Activities 24 Checklist 30 Event Calendar 32
5 Laura Rozendahl Huber: Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?
Research points towards a revelation in entrepreneurial education. There may be hope yet for the sober students of the Netherlands.
8 Anonymous: Unmasking the Founding Myths
Just when you thought you knew all there is to entrepreneurship, hook, line and sinker. Anonymous will set you start.
26 How to Combine Entrepreneurship & Studying
Daniel van der Horst (Architecture), student entrepreneur talks about his experiences.
28 Tim Horeman: From Research to Entrepreneurship
Tim Horeman, awarding winner, patent holder, exstudent of TU Delft reflects on this dual life as PhD candidate and businessman.
Can entrepreneurship be taught? By Susanne Verstegen
Education in entrepreneurship is becoming more and more popular. New possibilities such as courses and minors about entrepreneurship are rising within academic education. But, is entrepreneurship something that can be taught? And if so, which skills can be taught and which can’t? To answer these and other related questions, I talked to Laura Rosendahl Huber. Laura is doing her PhD research at the University of Amsterdam. Together with two other colleagues, she explored the short-term effects of an entrepreneurship education program on kids around the age of eleven to twelve years. Changes in cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills and the attitude towards entrepreneurship were measured. It appears that the entrepreneurship education program has a significantly positive effect on non-cognitive skills, the so-called ‘soft skills’. Examples of these soft skills are creativity, persistence, self-confidence and pro-activity. Previous economic research emphasizes the importance of early investment in cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This research also reflected that the benefits of the short-term effects found in Laura’s study might cause spill-over effects boosting currents skills and making future investment in entrepreneurial educations even more beneficial. These potential spill-over effects could make early investment in entrepreneurial (soft) skills even more
Laura’s research mentioned in the article is the first part of her PhD thesis. The research design and findings can be found in the paper ‘The Effect of Early Entrepreneurship Education: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment.’ For the second chapter of her dissertation, she wants to research the effects of team composition on team performance in entrepreneurship. After graduation, Laura wants to continue doing research within the topic of entrepreneurship since there is still much to discover.
effective in the long run. However, this is not something that has been tested in this research. Laura’s research also showed that the program does not have a significant impact on entrepreneurship knowledge. Although this is surprising, it could be explained by the fact that the program was all about interaction and not so much about learning models and definitions by heart. Another focus of Laura’s research was on the attitude towards entrepreneurship. It appears that the intention to become an entrepreneur became less than it was before the program. This seems contradictory, since you expect such a program to motivate people. However, this effect has been found more often in similar studies and can be explained by the fact that people initially have a very positive picture of entrepreneurship, but are discouraged when they experience how much effort and time it can take. So the program helps to provide children with a more realistic picture of entrepreneurship. Experiencing entrepreneurship is a good way to find out if entrepreneurship is a suitable career option. One way to experience entrepreneurship is to start-up in a safe environment, with little cost to society. This can be done by means of education, such as a minor or program in which you can actually start your own company. An important factor that influences the intention to become an entrepreneur is parents. Children with entrepreneurial parents are more willing to start-up themselves. Parents are role models for children. Recent research shows that it is not only about genes; the effect of nurture (environment, surroundings etc.) is approximately twice as large as nature (genes). Besides that, children of entrepreneurs have a lot of contact with entrepreneurship by helping their parents. This could help them develop some relevant skills and knowledge at a young age. All in all, it seems that entrepreneurship can’t be fully learned. However, the results of Laura’s research show that there are some positive effects of such an education program. Mainly the soft skills develop positively during the program. Experiencing entrepreneurship by means of educational institutes remains a very valuable option for people of an older age. By doing that, people still can find out if entrepreneurship is something that suits them. ■
bringing home the bacon By Titia Kuipers
One of the first things you can work on as a student is creative thinking. It’s one of the important attributes of becoming an entrepreneur. A creative idea with a bit of luck and lots of entrepreneurial skills might become the next hit. Sometimes you won’t even consider a certain product market until you have found an unintended inspirational spark elsewhere and it pushes you into that new direction. These moments often seem short and spontaneous. It is up to you to notice them and grab them on the spot! Abbey Fleck was only eight years old when inspiration struck. Together with her father, Jonathan, they were cooking bacon in their home in St. Paul, Minnesota. When they suddenly realized that they were out of paper towels to soak up the excess fat from the fried slices, they had to improvise. Abbeys father wanted to use the classified section of a newspaper instead, but Abbeys mother protested and so he suggested they should just let it ‘drip dry’ instead. Ding! Abbey thought there must be a way to fix this. She came up with the idea of a rack to hang the bacon on while it cooks above a dish. Not only would this be less messy and save paper towels, but it would also be a healthier way to cook bacon. The bacon would be hanging above a dish that would collect the liquid fat, making the bacon cook above the fat, not in it.
Abbey and her father began to design what eventually became the Makin’ Bacon dish. It is a square skillet of microwave-safe plastic, with three upright bars where the bacon can hang over to cook. After the idea was patented, Abbey and her father founded a company and began selling the Makin’ Bacon dish the next year. They even struck a distribution deal with Walmart. To pay for the first 100,000 dishes, Abbeys grandfather took out a loan on his farm, but it seems to have been worth it. Today, Abbey Flecks enterprise is still thriving, with the Makin’ Bacon dish available in stores Today, Abbey Flecks enterprise is still thriving, with the Makin’ Bacon dish available in stores all over the United States and through internet. Abby got a lot of support from her family to actually start producing this product. Her father loved it because it is a much easier way to cook bacon. Her mother knew the bacon is healthier like this and her little sister Kelly didn’t really care ‘she just loves bacon’. One starts at an innocent age and ponders about small challenges and ideas. Abby is a vivid example of an entrepreneurial family (see also, Deflecktor) spawning creativity at home, which eventually lead to a new start-up followed by a big succes.
Makin’ Bacon skillet
Keep your eyes open, a new idea could be right in front of you. Make notes about things you’ve seen that bother you. You missed this one, grab the next! Stay alert because everything starts off as just someone’s idea....What’s yours? ■
a simple idea
THE MAN BEHIND CRUISE CONTROL By Titia Kuipers
Meet Ralph Teetor, born in Hagerstown, Indiana in 1890. Like many other inventors, Ralph Teetor was born with a natural curiosity. However, with one important difference, he was blinded at the age of six when he tried to open a bookshelf drawer with a knife. This accident changed his life forever. Yet, the loss of sight of both eyes didn’t slow Teetor down. What he lacked in sight, he definitely made up for in his ability to ‘look’ ahead and find solutions to common problems in technology. He is the creative brain who invented the cruise control, which is considered nowadays a common feature in vehicles all over the world. At the age of twelve, he built his first automobile with the help of his cousin. They rebuilt a discarded engine and machined each part by hand. Ralph Teetor went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in the top three of his class with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Teetor’s adaptions and keen mechanical ability served him well in university and throughout his professional career. His highly developed sense of touch proved its advantage in developing a technique for rebalancing steam turbine rotors, used in torpedo-boat destroyers during World War I. Dynamic
balancing of large components had puzzled others before Teetor solved the problem. Despite his blindness, Ralph Teetor was a prolific inventor and he eventually became President of the Perfect Circle Company, a manufacturing business founded by his uncles. One day, while driving with a friend, Ralph Teetor noticed something odd. When his friend was listening to Teetor, he would speed up, but when he was talking to Teetor, his friend would slow down. Frustrated by the rocking motion caused by irregular speed, Ralph Teetor thought there must be a way to automatically control a car’s speed. He came up with the idea of developing an automotive function that would maintain a constant speed in cars. He named it the Speedostat. The concept was actually quite simple. It measured driveshaft rotations and based on those rotations, adjusted the throttle to maintain a constant speed. Ralph Teetor invented the Speedostat in 1945, but it didn’t debut in the market until 1958 when it was featured in the Chrysler Imperial. Research on the concept carried on after Ralph Teetor retired, and today cruise control is a common feature in numerous vehicles worldwide. Teetor preferred never to discuss his blindness. He managed to live his life as if the accident had never happened and went on to become successful as an engineer, manufacturing executive and entrepreneur. ■
so become an
find out what kind of entrepreneur you will be...
you want to
N it’s important for me to make money with my product
doesn’t matter! you can always change your mind, right?
people think i’m nuts when i tell them i don’t want to make money, but i think people loving my product is much more important
i want to make
a lot of money
ok! maybe entrepreneurship isn’t the right thing for you
N if other business opportunities in other fields come up, i would be interested
Y i love the idea of working hard for a window of time making a fortune, and never have to work again
N i am an optimist, despite setbacks i am confident i am going to make it big on my current venture
i want to build the company from the ground up and work for years to make it successful
i’m ready to work hard to achieve this goal
believe in yourself, you can be big too! go to the sparring diner
opportunist Picture Sir Richard Branson and you have a pretty good idea of what Opportunistic DNA is all about. Individuals wired with this DNA are highly optimistic master promoters. They enjoy marketing and selling. They are wired to sniff out well-timed money making opportunities, jump in at the right time, ride the wave of growth up and (hopefully) jump out at the peak.
i feel better working in the ‘lab’, on my product, than in an office together with business people
The innovator measures his success based on the impact their product or service is having on mankind. "It's not about the money," you'll hear them say. "I'd do this for free for the rest of my life if I could. Innovator DNA control most of the great intellectual property of our time. Unfortunately, they hide in dungeons and find it hard to engage in business discussions. Find out if your idea is feasible by doing the course Turning Technology Into Business!
N go to the DO IT GAME!
builder You have a drive to build highly scalable businesses very fast. builders aren't satisfied with a certain amount of personal income or goodwill toward man. They are individuals who are master recruiters of talent, investors and customers. Individuals with high Builder DNA tend to struggle most with personal relationships and typically have a revolving door of talent in their companies.
N i will spend a majority of my day providing the primary services for our product
specialist his DNA activates in the experts of our world. No sooner does an individual go through years of schooling, apprenticeship or on-the-job training, does this DNA activate, driving the corresponding behaviors. Specialist DNA drives one to be very analytical, relatively risk-averse and anti-selling.
unmasking the founding myths By Anonymous
Fact and fiction of the legendary entrepreneurs
Societies get what they celebrate. Show Kim Kardashian as an ideal of female beauty and you get a bunch of young girls who all want to look like Kim Kardashian. In the last decade, this phenomenon has become true for entrepreneurship as well: smart kids nowadays want to be like Mark Zuckerberg or be the next Steve Jobs. Visionary entrepreneurs have gotten their own myths. Stories of mythical proportions are great as inspiration, but we do have to realize that things get filtered out: myth is, explicitly, not the same as the truth. Being inspired by heroes is a great thing, but understanding how things work in real life is invaluable for those who decide to take on a similar journey. This is why I want to tackle the difference between popular culture entrepreneurship and the true grit of really founding a company. Let’s have a look at a persistent portion of the founding myth. You probably already know how this goes: two friends, somewhere in a college dorm room. It’s past midnight, yet they are laboriously hacking away at the next big thing. They are building the future. They are building the foundation of a company that will change the world and make them both billionaires. What implicitly is being said, is that it’s best to start a company with your friend, and that having no prior experience in the industry is the way to go. After all: who can you trust better than your best friend? And the fact that you lack professional industry experience is exactly what you need to have a fresh view that can disrupt that industry.
Elon Musk and Peter Thiel didn’t start off as friends Quickly glancing over a couple of usual suspects tells a different story. First, both Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs had industry experience: both had worked at HP and Jobs had worked at Atari. Plus he had some experience running a cult, which obviously helped with Apple marketing. Second, Peter Thiel did graduate from Stanford, but he worked at Credit Suisse for a while as a securities trader. Perhaps that international money markets experience had something to do with the eventual success of PayPal. Elon Musk and Peter Thiel didn’t start off as friends. Sergey Brin worked at Wolfram – which kind of comes in handy
when you decide to start a software company that does information and algorithms. And this is not just anecdotal evidence: recent Harvard research shows that prior industry experience is one of the key success factors of new ventures. In the end, people love to watch a Disney story about two kids building the greatest company in the world in mom and dad’s garage. Just realize you have not just seen the recipe for success. What is the recipe then? First, let’s look at the question about when to found. There is something to be said for founding while in school. You have minimal living expenses, no family that needs your support, you’re not use to receiving a high level salary yet and you can recruit lots of talent on the campus for
cheap. On the other hand, you’re inexperienced, naïve about real world skills and probably don’t have the professional network to tap into yet. Just like with having children, there probably is no perfect time to start. After all, life is full of dynamism and unexpected events can have great impact on your life. For example, just when Microsoft was taking off, cofounder Paul Allen got diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, his long and short-term goals changed radically. My advice is to ask yourself whether you need to rush. If you have developed a hot technology and Apple is going to launch a competing product in six months, it might be good to get going now. And work your ass off. Otherwise, you might think of still finishing up university and maybe even getting a one-year job in the industry you dream of invading. Discover the industry rules, learn skills and of course meet people! Secondly, starting a company with friends or family is most likely a terrible idea. You have to realize that friendships are based on a social dynamic: reciprocity, equality and conflict avoidance. Pretty much the opposite of what’s expected in a fast-moving professional environment. Furthermore, picking your best friend is probably also the lazy solution. What are re-
ally the chances of your friend being the best young MBA or engineer you could ever find? Smart founders will look long and hard to find the best people, not settle for the ones they already know. The family option is even more dangerous: many people find it extremely hard to separate family life and business. Do you really want to explain to grandma why you have lost all her life savings on this business idea? There’s a lazy argument again too: your brother probably isn’t the best computer scientist in
Your brother probably isn’t the best computer scientist in the country the country. And even if he is, you might consider co-founding with the second-best guy and keeping relationships clean. If not this, what then? For the best result, found with people you’ve successfully worked with together. Everyone already knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you know what you can expect from them, there is already a clear hierarchy and you know you can perform together in a business setting. How about university colleagues? Are they friends? Are they coworkers? It depends. If these are the guys you only drink and play poker with, or even just played sports with, I’d set them firmly in the friend zone. If you’ve done some serious, intense and stressful projects together (like the Nuna project at TU Delft) and there is enough professional distance, then you might have a winning team on your hands. Just make sure you pick them because of their skills and work ethic, not because you like them in a pub. Deciding to found a startup that’s supposed to become a success is a lot like going to war. Reality is remarkably different from what you see in Hollywood action movies. It’s going to be a noisy environment with a lot of uncertainty, highs and lows and it’s going to cost some serious sacrifices. So before you make that leap, Make sure you are prepared. Have the right training and experience. Understand and attempt to reduce the risk that you are facing. And make sure you bring some damn good soldiers with you. ■ Some say, when he sings his voice sounds the perfect pitch. And that he once wrestled a known start-up competition jury into submission. All we know is this column is written by ‘The Anonymous’.
By Titia Kuipers
Whether it’s via a smartphone, tablet or android TV, app stores have brilliant apps to help our day-to-day lives. They provide us with considerable amounts of entertainment and convenience. Where there is innovation, there will also be idiots. Here is a list of apps that are simply retarded.
Ever wondered if you’re good in bed? You are probably not if you think its a good idea to strap your phone to your arm during it. The Passion app uses the phone’s microphone and accelerometer to award you a rating between 1 and 10 for your thrusting and groping. It even has a high scores feature: ‘Look honey, I scored a 9 with my last girlfriend.’
am i drunk?
A series of five tests designed to help you determine whether you are drunk or not. If you have to ask, you probably are.
Over simulated with The Sims? Go basic with Sim Stapler. It is a virtual stapler.
It makes shaving noises as you rub it against your face. The developers say it “works like a real shaver”, apart from, well, actually removing hair from your face.
If you’re struggling with your smartphone’s touchscreen, download Touch Train. Hit the bulls eye in the center and practice until you consistently get within 10 pixels of the center. Or go outside and talk to humans. They’re the ones with faces.
In Snookify Me, you can upload your own pictures and glam yourself up to look just like Snooky. You can save these images on your phone, post them on Facebook or even send them to the developers online. Why?
Sometimes apps are awful because they don’t work, while other times they are simply terrible due to their overall concept. The app cry translator is not only a bad concept but also an impractical one. Designed to diagnose a baby’s needs based on it analyzing his/her cry, the concept itself is an advertisement for bad parenting. Parents would never grow into knowing what a baby needs naturally; instead they will just pass it on to their phone to work it out.
This app has taken the bar down to a new low. The purpose of Taxi Hold’em is to help you hail down a taxi. Rather than just sticking a hand out. The app displays a black screen on your phone with the word ‘Taxi’ written in yellow on it.
i am rich
This app was released on the 5 of august 2008 and removed from the Apple iTunes App Store the very next day. I Am Rich is a $999.99 app that displays the exact words ‘I Am Rich’ & a glowing RED GEM as a self-glorifying screensaver. The initial ‘genius’ idea wa to be exclusive due to its price that only pompous rich people would feel proud to have it on their phones. Fact is that only eight people bought the app. th
This app shows a video of burning candle, which is supposed to be soothing and mentally healing. However, in reality it’s just a video of a candle burning.
my first customer By Bernhard Sombekke
This interview covers a YES!Delft start-up’s sales process. Sales is one of the defining elements you must master as a hi-tech entrepreneur. We interviewed Peter Haffinger, Managing Director of Delft Inversion about their sales process in the petroleum industry. Oil and gas companies are notoriously conservative and this article sheds some light on the steps necessary to conquer this sector. Confidential information has not been disclosed in this article to protect the interests of served companies. Could you share your pitch that grabs people’s attention? Delft Inversion is a service company in the Exploration and Production (E&P) sector of the petroleum industry, offering a geo-imaging technology to provide oil companies with more accurate and reliable images of their reservoirs. To this purpose, we use sound waves that are sent into the subsurface and get reflected by geological layers. This echo of the earth can then be measured at the surface and if this process is repeated many thousands of times you obtain a so-called seismic dataset. This process is very similar to medical imaging where a doctor sends ultra-sound into the belly of a pregnant woman to obtain an image of a growing fetus. While existing geo-imaging technologies assume that every interface between two geological layers creates only a single reflection, the situation is actually much more complicated in real life. Think of shouting your name into a cave. The response will be a repetition of echoes because the sound wave that you emit will reflect multiple times on the walls of the cave. The same applies to the Earth and Delft Inversion has an innovative technology to use the full information content of the complex echo, in contrast to existing technologies, which use only the very first part. As a consequence we can provide our customers with more accurate images of the subsurface which are crucial to the success of finding, exploring and finally producing a petroleum resource. How do you determine the most appropriate person to reach out to? Usually, we use our personal network to get in touch with the appropriate people. If you know somebody well and you can explain what you are looking for, chances are high that you’ll be connected to the right person. Methods like ‘cold calling’ simply don’t work in the oil and gas industry.
Delft Inversion technology
Tell us about the ways you’ve decided to expand your network and find these people who may help in functioning as third party representatives? The involvement of the founders of Delft Inversion in the E&P industry varies from several years to several decades. During this time we met a fair number of people and by participating in international conferences, workshops and exhibitions, our network is steadily growing. When this company was founded, who did you contact to get your foot in the door of your launching customer? Delft Inversion is a spin-off from Delphi, one of the three leading E&P research consortia worldwide. During the biannual sponsor meetings we had the opportunity to present our technology already during the development phase to representatives from the E&P industry. During one of the coffee breaks we had a chat with somebody from a mid-sized American oil company on commercialising our technology and they finally became our launching customer. For us, finding a launching customer turned out to be a very natural process instead of a real search. What information did you listen for during this initial contact to get to the next stage? After making an initial contact, independent of being a launching customer or not, it is important to figure out what the actual problem of your potential customer is. Although personally you might like the outcome of your technology, its only worthy to your client if it solves one of the problems he has to deal with. After you’ve found the challenges the customer is facing, you can think about whether the technology you offer can help resolve these issues. If your technique doesn’t offer help, change it so it does.
Is there a way to determine the likelihood of a sale even just after the pitch? After presenting your technology to a potential customer, you inevitably get a personal feeling of whether you will be awarded a project or not. Still, assigning probabilities is very difficult and I do not believe in it too much. Statistics work if you have sufficient data, but as a start-up in the E&P with only a fistful potential customers to start with, you have to be in for surprises in the positive as well as in the negative sense.
The consequences of irrational expectations are that you may win a battle, but you potentially lose the war, or a big customer by leading them on
What is your impression of the best way to approach petroleum exploration companies? As a start-up there is probably no alternative to being well networked within the E&P industry. In this way you should be able to get some trial projects off the ground. After you have demonstrated your technology on some datasets you should aim to publish the results at international conferences, exhibitions and in journals. Still, without having personal contacts in the respective companies, it will be very challenging to enter the E&P market. How do you select prospects from suspects, those who really need, and are willing to buy? I must admit that we are not in a phase yet in which we do make this distinction. Particularly as a start-up you need to grab all the chances you can get. Sometimes you realise that chances are rather low that a specific company will commit to a project but nonetheless you have to do your best to gain their interest. Even if we would classify our potential customers in terms of prospects and suspects it would not have any influence on our sales efforts right now. How do the managers you meet react to your pitch? Did they recognise a need to use your product? Managers are generally very interested after our sales pitch because they understand that our product is fundamentally different to current commercially available technologies. The E&P industry is facing a rapidly growing global energy demand while the production rates of the major oil fields are already declining. This combination creates a need for innovative technologies to find future oil fields in even more challenging environments compared to the past. If not managers donâ€™t see the need, how did you try and inform them? Or educate yourself on their other needs? As mentioned, the E&P industry faces the huge challenge of meeting the globally rising energy demand. It is well accepted that meeting this will be a technology driven process and there is no doubt about a need for better seismic imaging technologies. The question is more if you are able to fulfil the expectations of your customers. It might be that with the best available technology you will still not be able to image... â–ş cont. next page
an oil reservoir with a resolution that your client would like to see. In this situation you simply need to be honest and let him know. The consequences of irrational expectations are that you may win a battle but you might lose the war, or a big customer by leading them on.
Methods like ‘cold calling’ simply don’t work in the oil and gas industry
How do you identify the influential buyers and others in the organisation that may affect the decision to buy? This is really dependent on the situation and it can indeed turn out to be rather difficult. If you know somebody in the company you deal with, you can probably figure out together who is the most influential. The problem is that in most cases you will not get in touch with the person who eventually decides if they will buy your product or not. You often meet people at conferences or exhibitions and usually you will be referred to a technical person to talk to. The key is to find somebody who really understands your technology and make sure he wants to apply it to the oil fields the company is working on. In the E&P industry, the most influential buyer will still request feedback from his technical staff and without them on your side, chances are low you will sell your product. How do you prevent wasting time on a company who will not buy? I do not think that you can waste time on explaining your technology to a potential customer. Even if eventually you do not sell to him, you have to ask yourself what the reason was, and hopefully you can learn from it for the future. Making money is essential if you want to run a business but if you only have the final deal in mind while presenting your product, I believe you miss out on significant opportunities that customer contact has to offer. What are the best tools to organise your sales efforts? In the E&P industry, your customers come from all around the globe and obviously this requires a fair amount of traveling. Nonetheless, for a start-up it is important to use your resources, e.g. manpower and travel budgets, effectively, and with today’s available communication tools this can be achieved easily. While there is no real replacement for face-to-face communication we use web-meetings regularly to present our technology to potential clients but also to report on projects we are working on. How does the fact that multiple petroleum exploration companies often have a stake in the same prospect (wildcat well/development) influence your sales process? Does that make it complex to arrange a deal? An oilfield is nearly always operated by multiple E&P companies and that certainly has an effect on ones sales effort, particularly as a start-up. Let’s assume you have an unproven technology and you acquire a trial project with one of several oil
companies, which are operating the same field. There is a good chance that the partner companies will wait for the outcome of the project before committing to a project themselves. They will be informed on the results anyway which means that you might block some potential customers for the time being. On the other hand, if you make the particular project a success, the situation can be turned into a significant sales multiplier because the partners will consequently get very much interested in your technology. Do you have a sales strategy per department of an exploration company (operations, logistics, prospect prep. what are the departments you need to talk to)? I would not say there is a different strategy per department but certainly you approach them from different angles. In our case the goal is usually to talk to the asset groups because they operate the oil fields and they will eventually use our product. Still, depending on several factors you might not be able to do so and maybe you have to start introducing your technology to the research group. Different groups do not only have different objectives but also they have different funds available. As a result, you will need to adjust your sales strategy in terms of technological detail but also in terms of justifying your product from en economic point of view. How will the purchase effect a buyers operation, budget, cash flow, or other personal concerns? Oil exploration companies are mainly concerned about risk reduction. This can be from a financial perspective but also from an operational point of view. Our technology will give customers a better understanding of their reservoirs so they can make more precise estimates of the expected revenue. This will clearly have an impact on their E&P activities, e.g. how many and where to drill wells, but also on the whole development plan, e.g., what size should an oil rig have. Another benefit is reducing the operational risk by identifying risky spots in the subsurface, which can potentially lead to drilling hazards. If this happens, the trajectory of planned oil wells can be changed before it comes to the worst-case scenario. Do you convince every executive during personal meetings or do you present to everyone at once? The later being similar to stories I’ve heard about Asian meetings where over the course of an hour, gradually more important decision makers sit-in replacing those in a lower rank. Usually we talk to a whole group of people to present our product. These are mainly interdisciplinary teams involving people from different countries, making these meetings very interesting. While it never turned out to be any problem, work relationships can be different in different parts of the world and it certainly cannot harm to take these little variations into account.
Often sales people continuously investigate whether the ball is still in play. How often do you feel the need to confirm the executives and your commitment to the deal and advantages to be had from it? It is certainly important to monitor your sales efforts and we do remind them. Tell me about how your presentation is organised when meeting for potentially closing the deal? Presenting ourselves to a potential customer can usually be divided into three phases, with the first one covering the potentially added value, our company and the technology we offer. Next we present our product in-depth from a technological and scientific point of view, making sure to point out differences to other commercially available solutions and to convey our USP’s. In the last phase the respective E&P company will be involved to discuss potential prospects and evaluating the suitability of our technology for the customers specific E&P challenges. How long does it take to implement your solution? For a standard trial project, we deliver within three months after receiving the data, at the latest. With projects getting more complex, it really depends on the amount and the different types of data that are supposed to be integrated but you can certainly think in terms of several months. Are you under pressure to sell quickly due to competition? Or are you alone? There are certainly competitive technologies which we consider healthy according to the saying “if there is no competition there is most probably no market”. But, people in the industry realise that we offer a fundamentally different technology and this inevitably raises interest of other service companies. Since innovation processes in the E&P industry are rather slow we do not feel pressurised to sell but we are fully aware that we have to stay innovative ourselves to stay ahead in the long term. How would/does competition affect your approach in sales? With competition, as with everything else, you have two sides of the same coin. It can be a threat because you have to fight for your share in the market but you can also use it to set you apart from whatever is there already. Some of the most recognised characters in the E&P industry argue that the coming years will be the most game-changing years we ever had in this industry. We are convinced that Delft Inversion does contribute an extremely innovative technology to this change and competition helps us to convey this message. ■
Investing in the future of energy, water and food Launched in September 2013, the Shell Ideas360 global innovation competition offers a platform for students to work with experts to develop their ideas for tackling energy, water and food issues. Chaco van der Sijp and Hans Haringa are
explains Van der Sijp. “It’s likely that most of your
corporate angel investors in the Shell
ideas have been thought about before. Your task is
GameChanger programme. It’s their job to
to think outside the box and show how your idea
review the entries submitted to the Shell
could solve a problem in a way that has not been
Ideas360 platform and identify the concepts
– and the people – that have the potential to
Coming up with an idea is only half of the battle.
change how we deal with the energy-food-
It’s also extremely important to think about how
water stress nexus.
your concept will generate value. “We need to be convinced that you have thought about how your
So how do you get the attention of these two
idea will become a viable business opportunity in
GameChangers? What makes an idea stand out?
the future,” adds Haringa. “Ask yourself: ‘Would I
And how do you make the jump from scribbling a
invest my own money in this? Is it going to be able to
diagram on the back of an envelope to developing
generate revenue? Is there a market for my idea? Is it
a fully-fledged invention?
something that someone, somewhere would pay for?’ And, we need to see evidence that you have thought
“First and foremost, we’re looking at whether an idea is novel. Then whether it’s doable and if it actually solves a problem that’s relevant to the stress nexus,”
about how your idea could be realised.”
According to the GameChangers, collaboration is
The more ideas that are submitted to the Ideas360
crucial for success. As the world’s population grows
platform, the greater the chance the GameChangers
and the demands on natural resources increase, the
have of finding one that’s a hidden gem.
problems this creates are becoming more complex. They cannot be solved by individuals acting alone.
Shell is not interested only in those ideas that might
“The stress nexus is not only about energy,” explains
work though. The GameChangers are always on the
Van der Sijp. “In terms of fossil fuels, if you want
hunt for people who can show that they have the
to get energy out of the ground you need water in
true spirit of an inventor. “Shell Ideas360 is a great
the form of steam. To make steam you need energy
opportunity for you to demonstrate your creative mind.
and to make food you need both water and energy.
It takes courage to submit a really novel idea as you
The issues are so intertwined that they have to be
may not yet know whether it works or not,” advises
addressed as a whole.”
Van der Sijp. “True inventors persevere and maintain a sense of reality. They also tap into as many sources of
Shell Ideas360 encourages student innovators to
help, advice and expertise that they can find; there’s
team up to think about real-world problems and
so much help out there if you know where to find
come up with real-world solutions. “And, although
it. Finally, as you work on your ideas, keep Thomas
this competition might sound like a game,” says
Edison’s famous quote in mind: ‘I have not failed.
Haringa, “it’s actually very serious. The issues that we
I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’.”
are asking you to find potential solutions for are very real problems that are already challenging our world.” Ideas are the lifeblood for innovative organisations like Shell. “If there’s one thing the world is not short of, it’s ideas,” says Van de Sijp. “But for every idea that has potential, there will be many that have no chance.”
Find out more about the Shell Ideas360 global student innovation competition at
listening to raindrops By Marc Barendse
The worldâ€™s population is growing. Every day, more than 210.000 children are born. In order to accommodate all those people, land is becoming more densely populated. Droughts, floods, and other natural adverse events that would not have been a disaster several decades ago, now cause more damage due to the intensification of populated areas. Problem TU Delft scientists at the Water Resources Management department of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geoscience at TU Delft are trying to develop a global hydrological model called eWaterCycle. The model is based on measurements by satellites and ground stations and aims to provide global hydrological predictions. By providing data about the expected amount of rainfall the model predicts floods and helps to make precise decisions about preventions - such as evacuating people out of high-risk areas. While working on the project, the researchers encountered a geographic gap in their hydrologic data: Africa, a major region that could benefit from the model. At the moment the amount of weather observation points, that measure data like temperature, rain and humidity, is limited in Africa. Governments do not have the means, will or power to build such a network. In order to overcome this problem, the researchers decided to take matters into their own hands. Together with Oregon State University and the International Water Management Institute, they started the TAHMO project, short for Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory. The idea behind the project is to create a dense network of 20.000 weather monitoring stations in sub-Saran Africa: one every 30 km. The sensors, combined with satellite measurements, will
increase the reliability of the eWaterCycle model. Because of the lack of skilled people, the stations should have low maintenance requirements. Furthermore, to make the project feasible, the stations need to be precise, but as cheap as possible: A single station, with all sensors, should cost no more than $500,Product: Measuring rain... Professional rain intensity sensors, the so-called disdrometers, cost thousands of euros. Most models work with a light beam between a transmitter and a receiver. Precipitation, such as rain, will interrupt the beam and generate a signal. The strength and duration of the signal can be used to determine rain intensity, speed and drop size. It is necessary to keep the optics and lenses in the device clean to ensure accuracy.
Did you know that an average farmer pays around â‚Ź125, to water an acre of land?
The core of this acoustic disdrometer is a piëzo-electric element: a small metal plate that makes sound when a voltage is applied to it. They are used in greetings cards that play music when you open them, for example. When we use it the other way around, the piëzo can be used as a microphone as well: The vibrations of a raindrops that fall on top of the element produce a signal, corresponding with the size of the raindrop. Patented software and electronics filter the ‘sound signal’ and convert it into usable data. Because the sensor is located in a closed capsule, it is protected from the environment - so that there is no need for maintenance or cleaning. The sensor just records sound and does not ‘miss’ drops like a tipping bucket. It is as accurate as other professional rain sensors, for less than 5% of their price. Company In order to explore all possibilities of the Delft Innovation to sense drops, the company Disdrometrics has been founded. In April 2013, the company moved to the YES!Delft incubator at the Molengraaffsingel. We spoke with Jeroen Netten, the managing director... ► cont. next page Another sensor that measures rain is the tipping bucket. Raindrops are collected in the bucket, and when it is full, the bucket will turn and empty itself. A reed contact then generates an interpretable signal. Tipping buckets are cheaper than disdrometers, but have several disadvantages: Firstly, usage is limited for measuring the amount of rain that has fallen. Secondly, the device has a water in- and outlet, which can get clogged. The mechanism requires periodic maintenance and cleaning to ensure a proper working. Rain that falls into the sensor during the ‘tipping’, or turning of the bucket immediately flows away. This rain is lost and will not be measured.
Transmitter LASER Receiver Above: optical disdrometer Below: Tipping bucket
...With Sound Since disdrometers and tipping buckets are expensive or require periodic maintenance, they do not satisfy the needs of the TAHMO project. Therefore, a low-cost rain sensor had to be developed. Stijn de Jong (TU Delft) chose a different working principle, namely sound. ‘If you’ve experienced the sound of raindrops on your tent then I’m sure you understand how it can tell you something about how heavy it is raining.’
How is the transition from product development to a more commercial phase? “It took us some time to find a viable product-market combination, because the potential applications of the sensor are so diverse. We did a lot of market research. At the moment, we are looking at private weather agencies. Maintenance costs of their measurement systems form a big part of their expenses, thus making it very costly to apply them in a wider network. This market grows with an average 25% per year, as the demand for reliable weather predictions keeps increasing. However, it is a professional market with specific demands regarding reliability en accuracy. You need a good reputation and sufficient experience. Contact with potential customers is very important. This revealed that there are things that we need to develop further. So we decided to take a step back in order to focus on product development.”
it is really nice to actually make things. So how did you get funding so far? “In addition to the TAHMO project, we participate in several European research and valorization programs. YES!Delft and the TU, who is shareholder, provided a network and made it easier to find the right people at the right place.” The properties of the sensor can be useful in many applications. What are the future plans, other markets? Imagine DisdroHome and DisdroAgri. “First we want to cover the meteorology. Later we might explore other markets. Did you know that an average farmer pays around €125, - to water an acre of land? With our sensor he will be able to monitor the amount of rainfall exactly, so that he knows exactly whether irrigation is necessary or not. Looking back, what would you have done differently? “Difficult question. I would professionalize sooner. Make decisions about outsourcing things that are not within your core competence. Secondly, I think it is very important to test-drive your team before marriage. When you hire people, make sure they fit within the team. ” Do you have some final words about entrepreneurship? “As an entrepreneur you have lots of freedom, you can organize your own day. But it can get busy, sometimes. If you are able to handle that you will be fine. It is really nice to actually make things.” ■
“As long as you’re ing going to be think anyway, think big.” The Trump —Donald Trump, ident Organization pres
“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream” - Hugh Hefner, fo under Playboy
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” - Jim Rohn
“Success is walking fro m failure to failure wit h no loss of ent husiasm.” - Winston C hurchill
barrassed “If you are not em on of your by the first versi launched product, you’ve too late.” kedIn co-founder - Reid Hoffman, Lin
“It’s not that we ne ed new ideas, but we ne ed to stop having old idea s.”
—Edwin Land, Polaroid co-founder
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” —Thomas Edison, General Electric co-founder
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
“Logic will get yo u from A to B. Imaginatio n will take you everyw here.”
—Drew Houston, Dropbox founder and CEO
- Albert Einstein
“Ideas are a com modity. Execution of the m is not.” —Michael Dell, De ll chairman and CEO
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” —Walt Disney, Disney founder
“Winners never q uit and quitters never win.” - Vince Lomba rdi, football coac h New York Giant s
We’re not very good at knowing what we want, and we are very quick to say, ‘This sucks.’ That’s where the opportunity lies.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, founder Wine Library TV
“The best way to ure predict the fut is to create it.” - Peter Drucker
y. o start a compan t s on as re d ba u “There’s lots of on, and I think yo as re e at im it g le one good, But there’s only e the world.” ng ha c o t ’s it : is know what it te CEO - Phil Libin, Everno
housing anywhere By Bob Wouterlood
In 2009 Niels van Deuren left Rotterdam for an exchange period to Singapore. Not one of his friends wanted to rent his room for 4 months. At the same time, he heard at the international office of the Erasmus University that incoming exchange students had trouble finding an accommodation. At this moment HousingAnywhere.com was born. Currently 72 universities have joined HousingAnywhere and over 5000 rooms have been offered to the incoming internationals by the local students. Niels now has 15 employees in fulltime service and wants all universities across the world to join his platform! In 2009 when you left for Singapore, the idea of HousingAnywhere was born. How did this idea evolve into HousingAnywhere? ‘Arriving back in the Netherlands, I pitched my idea for the international office. They rejected my idea. One month later I came across an article in Erasmus Magazine about international students accommodated in caravans. Once again I went back to the international office with the article. After this meeting, the international office was onboard. First, HousingAnywhere was launched at the Erasmus university, not much after I received a phone call from Maastricht University, who also wanted the platform for their students. It became clear there was enough potential for HousingAnywhere.’
One month later I came across an article in Erasmus Magazine about international students accommodated in caravans.
What motivated you to focus on HousingAnywhere? ‘It appeared there was potential for my I idea. The great motivation I had, was to realise and expand my idea. My intention is to literally have housing anywhere! Without the potential I probably would not have started an enterprise. If the idea of HousingAnywhere never had passed by, I would have had no problem going to work for a bank.’ Of course managing your own enterprise, means a lot of work. How did you deal with this? ‘It is more than a fulltime job, therefore it is important is to stick to your main tasks. If you can outsource tasks, you should! For example: Accounting can be done by someone else, so I hired an accountant. Transferring monthly salaries to employees can be done by someone else, what is now done by a finance student.’ On LinkedIn we found you had an internship at Heineken in 2012. For this internship you went to Ethiopia. Why did you work for Heineken and how did you combine this with HousingAnywhere? ‘Well, at that moment I was doing my master CEMS (International Management) and was required to do an international internship. At that moment I either had two options. I could have registered HousingAnywhere temporarily in Belgium to continue working for HousingAnywhere. Or I could just go abroad like the other students. Working for Heineken and HousingAnywhere was difficult, because the internet connection was not of great quality. At that moment I only maintained my customers and made no attempt to approach any new ones.’
Developing your own enterprise involves problem solving. What kind of problems did you experience with HousingAnywhere? ‘Currently 72 universities have joined HousingAnywhere. The slow expansion of the platform was unexpected to me, I expected more universities to have joined the platform in four years. Universities who join the platform, sign a contract and pay an annual fee. This way their students can use the platform for free. Dutch universities did not hesitate much before signing the contract, they are not afraid to try a new concept. Foreign universities could not decide on whether this concept was really necessary. Usually their answer is: ‘’Contact us again in half a year or a year’’. This slowed down the expansion of the platform.’
My intention is to literally have housing anywhere!
To get universities to join HousingAnywhere it is important to contact the right person. How do you get in contact with ‘the right person’? ‘In Rotterdam, 15 internationals work fulltime for the platform. These students have come to the Netherlands to do an internship at HousingAnywhere. All the internationals approach 30 local students in their home country to work for HousingAnywhere. The local students will eventually ask the universities to join the platform. My enterprise is a sales enterprise, I hire internationals to work for me. The great advantage is that they know their culture and language. Which makes it much easier to contact the universities and to do business with the them. Most universities experience this as a more pleasant negotiation.’ Earlier you told us that it is important to outsource tasks if you can. What is your occupation in your enterprise? ‘Getting large universities in Stockholm, Helsinki, Rome and Munich to join the platform is what keeps me occupied. It is of great concern these universities will shortly join the platform. Because, I expect, once these universities have joined the platform, the rest will follow.’
Have you ever experienced scams or other issues with the rooms? ‘No, we have never experienced trouble. Students who want to advertise their room on our site have to register with their university e-mail address. This was a smart idea of Erasmus University. It guarantees that students who cause problems are easily traceable. This system also prevents scammers from entering the platform.’ Did you ever consider to establish a free HousingAnywhere? ‘No, because when universities can participate costless, they will automatically be less committed. Universities are more interested in results now they are paying money.’ One last piece of advice for student entrepreneurs? ‘Yes! If you have a good idea, do not hesitate and go for it! Forget about all the restrictions, do not worry about financial and business issues. If you have started working on a concept, do not wait to approach your future customers. Ask them what they think of your concept and what aspects they think should be improved!’ What did you learn most from starting your own enterprise? ‘Everybody can do a favour for you, so be friendly to everyone. For example, an old classmate who now works for Google asked me if I wanted to give a presentation for Google about HousingAnywhere. You have to realise people have limits, they do not always work as hard as you want them to, they need breaks and do not work flawlessly.’ ■
global entrepeneurship Week Do-it! game By Koen de Veth
You have a perfect idea to start your own business, but what do you do next? What is your first step? Of course, you need funding! That would be very useful to take you through the first stage. That is why you go to the bank and try to convince the bankers that you have the best idea ever. Unfortunately, the bank personnel will treat you almost like a fool! Not having a registered company, no patent for your idea and no certainty for the future, will not bring you much money. Even begging does not help. You go to the Chamber of Commerce, so at least your company is registered now. Once back at the bank, they still won’t provide you a loan! Eventually, you realize that it would be much smarter to start with pitching your idea at YES!Delft, instead of focussing on money. The Do-It! Game gives an opportunity to pretend that you are starting a company together with a team of other students. You can make appointments with real life advisors at different stages of the process. The time you have with the advisors is limited, so you literally have to run to be able to speak with the person you want. The game is a great way for getting insight in how to deal with the first phase of being an entrepreneur.
Women event By Titia Kuipers
The women event team is one of the YES!Delft Students committees. This team organizes several activities for the female students of TU Delft. Their main goal is to let women learn more about entrepreneurship. The first activity of this year was a workshop about the basics of networking by Anne Strobos, known as ‘The Mother’ of YES!Delft Students. Speakers from different companies, Deltasync and Senz, made this event a great success. After the presentations there was enough room for questions and answers, which made this event not only very interesting but very inspiring too.
“You need an excellent presentation to present your idea. So prepare yourself, go for it and speak out loud.”
“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” “The rule of thumb: estimate how much money you think you will need, replace the decimal-point one place to the right and multiply your estimation of time for development by π .”
“Do not start an enterprise if you don’t like to talk big. “ “Listen carefully to your first customers: they will give you a wealth of information.”
pitch and dine By Hugo de Jong
Ingredients for a successful Sparring Dinner: 4 pitchers, 6 Panel members, an enthusiastic audience including potential pitchers and a good meal. With a panel eager to listen to young pitchers, judging any idea, answering any question, changing them into the right questions and discussing whatever is necessary to continue an initiative. This event represents exactly what the TU Delft needs. Positive reactions, such as: “Wow, they have given me a new view and direction”, “Here you have the opportunity to share your idea with a group of “Hands-on’ experts, so you don’t have to verify it again.” In short: A great low key way to start testing your ideas made possible by YES!Delft Students. A recommendation for future pitchers: Record your pitch and your feedback. You get lots of input in 25 minutes, too much to remember.
High Performance - Low Cost Solar Werk mee aan de deze technologie in ons multidisciplinaire team. Vacatures vast of stage, technisch of commercieel. www.linesolar.com
How to combine entrepreneurship & StuDYING By Susanne Verstegen
‘Can entrepreneurship and studying be combined?’ is a question many students struggle with when considering setting up an enterprise. A person who can answer that question positively is student entrepreneur Daniel van der Horst. Daniel is a fifth year student Architecture who additionally started up a few enterprises. Everything is about ‘discipline, structure and standardization’, explains Daniel. In which enterprises are you involved and what kind of service/product do you facilitate? ‘In 2009, my enterprise MusicSensation Entertainment was registered at the Chamber of Commerce. MusicSensation Entertainment facilitates shows, parties and weddings with lighting and music. Under the same label of MusicSensation Entertainment, we set up speakershuren.com, a website where people can hire speakers and other light and music equipment. We did this in order to reach another target group and broaden our customers network. At the moment, we are working on a concept called ‘Huisfeesten’. This enterprise will provide highly quality music equipment for house parties for a fair price in combination with other facilities such as a beer tap, soft drinks and snacks. Five months ago I got involved in a start-up called ‘Sustain-a-Bag’, which I think has potential to become a big success. Its goal is to reduce the plastic consumption by selling biodegradable plastic bags at a low price.’ When did your interest in entrepreneurship start? ‘The interest actually grew over the years. My friend Thomas Deurloo and I already started in 2006 with facilitating parties with light and music equipment. We started it as a hobby but it eventually became so successful that we decided to make it
MusicSensation is my baby, and what parent would let their baby become an orphan?
an ‘actual’ enterprise. Thomas mainly focuses on the technical aspect of our business and my focus is mainly on the entrepreneurial side of the business, such as maintaining contact with customers and accounting.’ How do you find balance between entrepreneurship and your studying? ‘The time I spend on my enterprise differs a lot; depending on the number of jobs I have in a week. On average, I think I spend ten hours per week on the company. This time I use to optimize processes and improve the cooperation with my colleague Thomas. Discipline, structure and standardization are the most important factors. The time saved by this constant pursuit of improvement can be put in studying.’ Did you ever consider leaving the enterprise or quitting your study? ‘No, I never did. The fact we began this enterprise as best friends, makes the cooperation sometimes a bit harder. We didn’t start the enterprise consciously but suddenly it was there and it happened to be a success. Along with the growth, we had to make clear agreements to divide the roles in the enterprise and improve the cooperation. My biggest drive is that MusicSensation is my baby, and what parent would let their baby become an orphan?’ What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning an enterprise while studying? ‘My initial goal was a ‘Delft take-over’. I live in Rotterdam but studying in Delft broadens my network and provides me an entrance to students. I now have a network with people I feel comfortable with and who are glad to help. No matter what I need, I can always find a person with the specific knowledge or skills who can help me. The disadvantage is that my main focus is on the enterprise and not on studying. As a result, I sometimes drop my study when there are a lot of jobs to be done.’
We didn’t start the enterprise consciously but suddenly it was there.
Daniel van der Horst en Tim van Zwieteren
Which skills or knowledge acquired at Architecture helped you further with your enterprise ? ‘Solution-focused thinking and applying structure is very useful when running an enterprise . The study Architecture taught me that. That’s why I can keep an overview on the whole business. This year I plan to finish my bachelor so I can focus on something else than Architecture. I don’t know yet which master I am going to choose, but something that has more affinity with entrepreneurship, such as business administration.’ What do you want to do after finishing your master? ‘My experience in MusicSensation is great but I don’t see myself still carrying speakers in five years. However, entrepreneurship
is in my genes so I want to continue being an entrepreneur. As mentioned before, I got involved in the company Sustain-aBag. The goal of this company is to tackle the plastic consumption. In order to do that, Tim van Zwieteren and I want to bring 100% biodegradable plastic bags on the market on a large scale. The problem is that these plastic bags are five times more expensive than normal plastic bags. We want to sell advertisement space on the bags to multinationals that have affinity with sustainability. As a result, we can sell the biodegradable plastic bags for a normal price to supermarkets/open markets. We are already in contact with councillors who are very enthusiastic about the formula and want to help us implement Sustain-a-Bag. I want to continue developing this enterprise and make it work.’ ■
For more information about Daniel’s enterprises, visit the following websites:
www.musicsensation.nl www.speakershuren.com www.sustainabag.nl
from Research to Entrepreneurship By Davìd Markey
In his MSc Thesis, Tim Horeman developed a system to perform laparoscopic surgery outside the operation room under sterile conditions. He then took the opportunity to continue this research as a PhD candidate at the TU Delft, while starting his own business (MediShield). Almost finishing his PhD, Tim talks with us about his experience of this unusual combination.
Why have you chosen this path? I’ve grown up at home with the entrepreneurial vibe and also next to my studies I’ve been involved in several start-ups. For me being an entrepreneur was a logical step. I also really enjoy research though and therefore I decided to pursue a combination of both. You have to be passionate about both pursuits and in hindsight this is probably the most important reason why I’m succeeding. Doing one to support the other would be very difficult to persevere. At the same time our university’s research department, Minimally Invasive Surgery and Interventional Techniques (MISIT), was starting up and was trying to push forward practical applications of research, something which fitted very well with my own ambitions.
There is no way you can do this all by yourself.
What is the benefit of this combo? The core of a good business is the team. You need very good people around you to make it work. Unfortunately you also need money and often this is a prerequisite to really be able to involve other people in your project. A PhD helps to find like-minded people and to build a large network not only with experts in your area but also with important people in large companies. Often university research groups have to refuse the many questions coming from the industry as they are not of an academic nature. Being so well connected these assignments are now referred to our company. Also financially a link with the university helps to get subsidies or get involved in larger industry projects, something very important when you’re working in a capital intensive industry. Obviously for health tech. industries research is a necessity to keep improving and innovating, which is win-win when you are working in that field during your PhD.
Above: Team Medishield demonstration. Photo: Mirjam van der Hoek
And downsides? There is no way you can do this all by yourself and that’s why a good partner is so important. You also have to be very smart about your time management and be very picky about what is possible and worth your effort. You also have to be aware of your natural habit to avoid difficulties by focusing on the other pursuit. Especially for your PhD you will be ‘hitting the wall’, something you have to get trough by making hard long hours. Putting it aside is a very existing pitfall. The university has to be on board as well. Especially the conflict of interest is a big issue. Where and when have you come up with what? Also the anxiousness of the university that you are spending too much time on other things (which could lead to not finishing your PhD) is a constant struggle you need to be transparent about.
You have to be passionate about both pursuits. How do you cope with the contradiction of publishing (PhD) vs. keeping knowledge in house (start-up)? Research means you have to publicise and in this respect the PhD comes first. This is however not as much a problem as many believe, specifically regarding patenting your technology. Patents are often weak, especially since your product will change so much over time. The only thing what really matters is being first on the market. Big companies won’t just copy your product as easy as you think, they are too afraid of getting a bad reputation if something goes wrong. On the other hand publications help as a marketing tool, as it often shows the validity of your concept and it proves your expertise on the matter. It is true though that it is a difficult balance, where sometimes you choose not to mention a particular result and rather keep it in house. It often comes down to publicising more academic insights while more practical driven knowledge (like background software) is kept in house. How does the industry look at your combination? People often find it strange and don’t really understand who they are talking to, the entrepreneur or the researcher.
Researchers are often looked at with suspicion for over optimising the product and never bringing it to market. In more high-tech industries there is a higher need for research and then a combination of research and entrepreneurship is much more appreciated. It’s all about gaining trust. People have to believe you when you say you possess the knowledge to do something, which is where the difficulty lies. They don’t really care how you get to that knowledge, whether you are a PhD candidate or an employee gaining insights. What can researchers and entrepreneurs learn from each other? Researchers can improve a lot on the point of communication. Starting up a business lets you realise how important it is to bring across your message and close a deal. Entrepreneurs can learn from researchers that the quality of a new product is important. Often one goes to market too quickly, claiming the product has certain capabilities that prove to be wrong. This leads to a lot of costs and often some basic additional tests could have prevented all this. Tips for people who want to do this themselves? Find someone to team up with and realise the importance of getting good people around you. Also you have to prepare for what’s coming, especially with the university you have to make very clear arrangements. Try to talk to people who have done the same thing and these are often the people suited to become your coach, something you really need to help and guide you in the process. ■
Name: Tim Horeman Education: Hogeschool Inholland, 2004; TU Delft MSc Biomechatronics MISIT 2007. Awards: Daniel F. Kott Award, Enterpreneural Scientist Award DESA 2012-2013, 2nd place Delft Enterpreneural Sientist Award DESA 2012-2013, 4th place Best Tech. Young professionals 2012 The Netherlands.
Organising your life as an entrepreneur By Hugo de Jong
Being an entrepreneur means you have to use your time wisely. For many students, entrepreneurship seems like one big chaotic storm. Since time is scarce and easily lost, we set up a checklist for you to make sure you are using your time wisely. Is your life rhythmic and regular? Start every day at the same time. You need at least six weeks to pick up habits. Do you plan your travel time efficiently? For long trips consider hiring a student driver. Or travel by train. That way you can work en route. Do you spend more than 70 hours a week working on your start up? Spending so much time on working is not a good idea. It disturbs your life balance. Therefore there are two general rules. Firstly, Parkinsonâ€™s Law: work expands in ratio to your time available for its completion. So make short deadlines. Secondly, the Pareto Principal: the 80/20 Rule is based on the fact that 80 per cent of the work to be done, can be done in 20 per cent of the total time you spend on the work.
Do you plan time for unexpected activities? Many people forget to take small activities into account in their planning. Examples of these small activities that are underestimated are preparing pitches, organising a meeting with a customer and administrative tasks. Do you create a limited timeslot for time-consuming activities? Brainstorm sessions, acquisition and answering emails are examples of time-swallowing activities. Although necessary, you need to be aware of the other essential to-dos. Do you use Trello? If not, use it! This software is your online whiteboard so you can easily share what you need to do or see what your colleagues have to do. Trello puts your business information online, structures and shares it and keeps it up to date.
Lustrum Year Yes!Delft Students YES!Delft Students was founded almost five years ago and this should will be celebrated during our Lustrum. YES!Delft Students creates a secure environment to explore ideas and helps to transform them into actual plans. The lustrum activities of YES!Delft Students will be during a whole a week: from March 10 until March 15. It is going to be a week full of activities related to entrepreneurship. Questions like ‘when is my idea considered as a good idea’ & ‘how can I implement my idea?’ for example will all be answered. The celebration week will give you a brief insight into the world of entrepreneurship. Join us for this rare intimate experience and let the world of entrepreneurs conquer yours! Building tomorrow’s leading firms does not come without ideas, experience and lots of trials. Success is not something you can be sure of but if you never take a risk you will never experience it. Becoming an entrepreneur does not guarantee success but YES!Delft Students Lustrum week can bring you a step closer to achieving the success you are looking for. The YES!Delft Students Lustrum week will show you how fun entrepreneurship is and what the secrets are of being a successful entrepreneur. TAKE THE LEAP!
win a vip treatment during the e-forum! How many yes!delft companies have already celebrated their 5th year anniversary? mail to email@example.com!
Contest How entrepeneurial are you? Find out how many champagne bottles have been openened at YesDelft since founding and Win a senz umbrella! Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
YES!Delft Students Events Calendar JANUARY 07 09 10 31
YES!Delft Students Night Kick-off CleanTechChallenge Monthly Incubator Tour Monthly Incubator Tour
FEBRUARY 11 12 20 25 26 28
YES!Delft Students Night
Final day Ready to Start-up Final day Turning Technology into Business Inspirational Lecture Register deadline Ready to Start-up Monthly Incubator Tour
YES!Lustrum Week 10 YES!Fair 11 YES!Challenge 12 YES!Forum 13 YES!Skills 14 YES!Celebrate 27 28
Start-up Career Event Monthly Incubator Tour...