“We started out as students with a vision and no money”
On October 31st, we had the privilege of hosting Derek Roos, the founder of Mendix, the speaker for our founder-only event series: the Breakthrough Sessions. It marked the first session of its kind and focused on the theme of Sales & Marketing. We brought together our portfolio founders for a session of founder-to-founder learning: sharing insights and starting thought-provoking discussions.
Derek Roos kicked the day off by sharing his remarkable journey in the tech industry, providing us with invaluable perspectives on entrepreneurship and leadership. He posed an insightful question to the audience: “Is your solution a pain killer or a vitamin?”
Concluding that: “While everyone knows vitamins are good for you, not many people use them. For pain killers, there is no hesitation. Make sure you build a pain killer. You can tell which one you are by the ease with which you're signing up new customers."
The Q&A with Derek was expertly moderated by Matthijs Gast, Founder of Ciphix and Freeday, and one of our own supporters. Together they delved into the timeline of an entrepreneur’s journey, sharing their lessons learned.
Derek founded Mendix in the time when he was just a ‘broke’ student, with nothing but a vision, no existing market and certainly no funds. But as Derek explained it, it’s all about truly understanding your customer.
“In the beginning we didn’t have much more than an understanding of the problem and a vision for the kind of company we wanted to bring into the world. But in the beginning, that’s all you need. I am a big believer in testing and selling your ideas early, and certainly long before you have a working product. It may feel like you have to ‘fake it till you make it' but this is the only way to get it right quickly.”
Navigating challenges together
Following the inspirational session, we divided the group into four smaller breakout groups. Here founders had the opportunity to exchange their challenges and experiences with like-minded individuals who were in similar phases of their entrepreneurial journey. Our supporters; Lotte Cohen, Wouter Glaser, Matthijs Gast and Bart van der Werf guided these discussions and brought them to a higher level.
All the concluding remarks, feedback and insights from these sessions were incredibly valuable and indicated a successful day! Yet one key takeaway given by one of our Graduate Entrepreneur Founders, Sandro van Hellenberg Hubar, ended the day on a high:
“Science and Knowledge brings you far, but imagination will bring you that extra mile. It is that breakthrough thinking that will lead you to breakthrough!”