Startupbootcamp is a global network of industry focused startup accelerators. They take startups global by giving them direct access to an international network of the most relevant partners, investors and mentors in their sector.

In addition to their Internet of Things and Data chapter in Barcelona, Startupbootcamp are also in the process of building their Smart Cities & Living chapter in Amsterdam. Focused on connected devices and automation, they are aiming to drive data centric solutions to problems such as energy management, waste management, urban planning and smart health solutions.

We spoke to Selection & Alumni Manager Mark Wesselink to learn a little bit more about the program:

Tell us a little about yourself and why you got involved in Startupbootcamp.

I have started 12 companies myself, failed 4 times, sold 2 and one company even did an IPO. The first 3 years in a startup is always the most difficult, and from an angel investor perspective also the most time consuming.

Startupbootcamp provides a way to combine knowledge, experience and network into a 3 month accelerator program, 3 month funding program and an 18 month alumni program. We will be actively involved for a minimum of 24 months and sometimes even longer. In that way we will increase the chance of survival. Our survival rate in Amsterdam is currently 95%.

What are the main benefits of accelerator programmes such as Startupbootcamp vs. going it alone as a startup?

I started a company in 2006 based on a hunch, we validated a lot of the model and it took us 16 months to change the model from personalised baby food to personalised offer for green energy. In an accelerator it would have only taken us a month.

Could you tell us about some of the startups already on your roster in Amsterdam, and the challenges they are aiming to tackle?

We have accelerated 50 companies in Amsterdam and a total of 200 companies with all the programs combined. The main challenge for everybody is that they want to scale too fast without having a good product/market fit and another challenge is to form a solid team with a good caretaker in the middle who can connect all the dots and get things done.

How would you say the scene for data science/smart living focused startups here in Europe compares the US?

In the US there is a culture that failure is not a problem, so people are willing to fail. The only way to learn how to build a startup is by failing fast and learning from it.

We see in Europe a clear shift that people are becoming willing to fail and learn. Don’t forget that the EU market is still the biggest market in the world.

Why did Startupbootcamp choose Amsterdam as the home for this accelerator?

We think that technology can help solving the current problems of cities. More people in cities means more pollution, more cars, more energy consumption etc. Amsterdam is one of the most connected cities in the world, has a Smart Grid, a Living Lab for Smart Homes, and more bikes than people. It is one of the best cities in the world to live in.

The Dutch people are open to innovation and eager to test. A lot of big companies in the world are using the Netherlands as a market to validate and test their product.

Do you see any trends emerging with the startups innovating in this space? Any common pain points they are addressing?

We see more collaborative sharing platforms, IoT clouds, and P2P marketplaces that are connecting people offline. We have connected billions of people online but now local connection seem to be growing in importance. For example, P2P home-care, P2P Lending, P2P collaborative usage of consumer goods and tools.

Are there any challenges you would personally like to see a startup tackle in Smart Cities & Living?

The biggest challenge is to reduce transportation in a city – distribution wise, but also people wise. If we can connect both, we will reduce transport in a city by 50%. We have already accelerated a company which helps to reduce the search for free parking spaces in a city by connecting car owners with free the parking spaces of hotels, companies and private individuals. You can also imagine people giving other people a lift on a scooter, bike sharing, P2P car rentals at airports or in neighbourhoods. We also see platforms where anybody can pick up an item in the city and deliver it to somebody else, because they have to be there anyway. We also believe in local produce and deliver it to local restaurants and consumers.

People are busy, but a lot of people need help on a daily basis. Helping people is the most rewarding thing you can do. Why not combine the two: Let people relieve stress by helping others in the neighbourhood. Technology can help with profiling and matching those people.

Startupbootcamp Marc Wesselink Marc is the Selection & Alumni Manager at Startupbootcamp Smart City & Living. He is a serial Entrepreneur, having started 12 companies in FMCG, Home Electronics, Healthcare, E-Commerce, HR and Finance.

(Image credit: Startupbootcamp)

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