20 February 2024
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At a recent event organized by Digital Wednesday, founders of digital start-ups, and students with entrepreneurial ambitions, shared their stories.
Eindhoven is known for a thriving start-up climate. In the Brainport region, thousands of inventions are made and patents are filed every year. But even the region’s successful companies have down days. At a recent event organized by Digital Wednesday, founders of digital start-ups, and students with entrepreneurial ambitions, shared their stories.
"We too make mistakes. We call them magnificent failures,”
Nick Baak, CEO of fintech company In3
The first speaker was Baak from In3. The solution of In3 allows customers to pay in three interest-free installments. The company uses an AI-based engine to strictly assess whether customers can afford the payments. In3 was recently called a soonicorn: a company worth nearly a billion euros.
Baak recounted its journey from start-up to scale-up. As In3 transitioned from a bootstrapped start-up to a company with outside investors, the company faced new challenges. “Investors suddenly got something to say. For example, they felt it was time for a new CEO. And then suddenly choices are made that you don’t always support.”
Still, the company belongs in the list of successful start-ups in the region, thanks in part to its adaptive ability, Baak says. “We have a policy of continuously doing something new and always going in a different direction.” As a result, In3 managed to grow, the most recent highlight being a partnership with Rabobank to offer customers business payment solutions.
In short, Baak concludes, even a successful business has its ups and downs. “It’s a matter of trying a lot, failing, let deals blow up, and then moving on again and achieving your mission.”
Thijs Putman, founder of StudyPortals, shared the story of his international study choice platform, whose mission is to make higher education choices transparent and accessible worldwide. StudyPortals has been working toward this goal for 17 years and now has more than 20 million visitors a year.
Putman emphasizes the importance of company culture. StudyPortals fosters a chaotic, friendly and open work atmosphere that, as Putman says, leads to more freedom, creativity and employee satisfaction. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he knows from experience. “At one point we wanted to get rid of the chaos. But when we made an effort, things went very quickly in the wrong direction with the corporate culture.” Now he knows better, and the office is once again full of chaotic sticky notes. The other day, an employee even came to the office in an inflatable dino suit. Clearly, “Employees feel free to take initiative. And that ultimately makes for better performance, too.”
“Employees feel free to take initiative. And that ultimately makes for better performance, too.”
Thijs Putman, founder of StudyPortals
Bart van Grevenhof was also in attendance. He supports student entrepreneurs at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and highlighted the university’s role in fostering innovation and promoting entrepreneurial skills. TU/e encourages students to work on real-world challenges in multidisciplinary teams and provides various resources, such as coaching and access to funding, to help students bring their ideas to life.
The event ended with three pitches from student entrepreneurs, who competed for a free consultation with investors present in the room. Aristotle Technologies emerged as the winner, focused on developing software that trains people in skills they need for their jobs or hobbies. PSV is one of Aristotle’s partners. Founder Maurits Overmans was recently named one of the 50 FD talents of year 2023.
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