If you’re still on the fence about signing up for the Startup in Residence program, or still fine tuning your idea, here’s a little inspiration from our friends and alumni in Amsterdam, who have just finished their third program.
Program manager Minouche Cramer was asked by the City of Amsterdam to come up with a new and innovative procurement method leading to long term solutions a few years ago. In other words, to use the creativity and flexibility of startups and young entrepreneurs to tackle civic issues and create a vibrant and sustainable city. Now, a few years later, there are Startup in Residence programs all over the country.
“A lot of young entrepreneurs are interested in helping people and really making a difference”, Minouche says. “But they don’t often have the opportunity to work with major clients, like governments or big companies. So aside from being able to make a difference, it’s learning to work with big clients and the City’s network that the startups in our program think is very valuable.”
Out of 27 cool startups in the Amsterdam program, Minouche highlights three: WASTED, TransformCity (with the goal of innovative area management) and Global Guide Systems. The first promotes waste separation by rewarding people with digital coins that provide discounts and benefits at local stores and businesses. TransformCity is an online platform where local property owners, businesses, citizens, organisations and the municipality can directly exchange information, plans, ideas and resources and collaborate on issues like energy, waste, mobility, housing and placemaking. Global Guidance Systems deals with the vastly growing traffic on the Amsterdam canals, by using signals that are transmitted by all commercial boats, in combination with the already existing sensor infrastructure.
Beating Usain Bolt
Another recent alumnus of the program is LedsLead, founded by Coen Smits van Oyen and Morris de Vilder, both students from Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA). The startup has created solar powered LED tiles, lighting up and forming a path, to motivate people to run, jog or just go for a stroll. Using an app, people can also compete against each other and try to beat times by famous athletes like Usain Bolt. LedsLead ran a number of pilots, the most recent one in the Amsterdam Zuidas area.
“Coen and I were both following a course on entrepreneurship and already had the idea for LedsLead when they signed up for Startup in Residence. The people from the program dropped by at the HvA and our idea was a great fit for one of their challenges”, Morris says.
“We didn’t really have any expectations going in, but we learned a lot”, Morris continues. “For one, we were a little too ambitious and our mentor told us we should start smaller and specialize. I’m really glad we did, because otherwise we would have taken on far more than we could handle. The workshops also really helped in fine tuning our business model step by step and coming up with a great elevator pitch.”