MY JOURNEY WITH MICROSOFT BIZSPARK
Hi my name is Mark Voermans and for the last 5 years I enjoyed the journey being responsible to setup the Microsoft Bizspark Program in the Netherlands. Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps entrepreneurs to progress and become more successfully by connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility for their business.
I really enjoyed my 13 years at Microsoft but at some stage I decided to leave the company for a specific reason. Progressing with the Microsoft Bizspark program gave me the chance to meet thousands of entrepreneurs and its community, participate in all kind of startup competitions and meet a lot of industry experts. By being involved in the startup ecosystem, sooner or later everybody develops an entrepreneurial attitude. This is also what happened to me: at some stage I got bitten by the startup bug and decided to change the frontiers.
CHANGING THE PERSPECTIVE
Due to my previous experience I knew the main pre-requisites and success factors to build a startup, such as the uniqueness of the idea, scalability, the market etc. For me there were three main aspects that are essential when it comes to joining a startup:
1. As with everything in life the company you want to join should always be aligned with your personal values. This is something that doesn´t seem obvious until you experienced working with the people together.
2. Would I bet my money on this company? Always ask yourself whether you are convinced about the concept, do you really believe that it can grow and become a market leader in itself?
3. Is the concept a new, unique and disruptive idea? The company should have a clear vision that is different from everyone else and by being part of this organization you should be able to make a difference in the industry that you are participating in.
THE PERFECT FIT
By occasion I discovered a startup that fit perfectly with all of these aspects: iReckon (http://www.ireckon.nl/). iReckon is a software development company, which creates innovative and creative applications in addition to customized solutions for our clients. The company is existing for only 1,5 years and is self funded. The goal is always to build disruptive products that go beyond the initial customer expectations. I had quite a good relationship with the company since they were supported by the Bizspark program. One day the founder of iReckon asked me whether I knew someone who could do the business development part for the company. Immediately I realized that this was the perfect fit, I was convinced by the team, company values, approach and strategy of the company. In addition most of the founders and team were technically oriented and searched for someone with a business background.
WHAT´S SPECIAL ABOUT THE COMPANY
What makes me excited about the company is the team and their approach to do things. For every project we get involved in we want make sure we get to the root cause of the customers need. We do that by listening carefully to our customers, their is a very good reason why humans have two ears and one mouth. Once we understand the problem and the underlying data we start developing new software and technology for our clients. As one example we got the project from the City of Breda with the goal to visualize data for their water filtering system. After we got familiar with the ask and environment we also analyzed the data and figured out that the pumps were not working in an effective way. Having said that we went beyond the original task and helped our client not only to visualize the water system but also to reduce costs for the government.
So what did I learn from my previous experience at Microsoft Bizspark and by joining an innovative startup? The biggest insight and advice to new founders: you shouldn’t start a new venture just for the sake of making money. You should always focus on a problem that you want to solve, some new and innovative concept that will disrupt your competitors and the market. Don’t try to solve customer problems which don’t exist by developing the products which don’t solve a real need.
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