Last night Blue Battery, Laevo and NettCity became the winners of the Dutch final of Get in the Ring. The three startups will represent the Netherlands at the European region final in London, hoping for a global final spot in Colombia.
The startups gathered at the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship in Rotterdam and were divided into three groups based on their own valuation. Lightweight (< €1M), middleweight (€1 - €10M) and heavyweight (> €10M).
Jury member Ben Verwaayen started of with a nice statement before the heat got on. “If they’re smart, they’re deadly honest.” As it turned out (and as expected), Verwaayen was sharp and didn’t let the startups fool him – coming with good substansively remarks throughout the whole night.
Each battle consisted of five rounds: round 1 was about the team, round 2 was about achievements, round 3 was pitching the businessmodel and round 4 was about the financial proposition. Round 5 was a special one: the contestant could go all in, freestyle.
How did the pitches go? Bonus: Lorenz’ votes from StartupJuncture.
Blue Battery – lightweight champion
In the lightweight round Emil Goosen from Blue Battery (energy out of water and table salt) battled against Berry Kriesels from Omnigen (personal DNA analysis). Verwaayen told Emil Blue Battery was too niche and thinks too small, the other jury members and the crowd voted for the renewable energy startup.
StartupJuncture vote: Omnigen. Although being a controversial startup (hello 23andme.com), Omnigen had the best answers on questions from both the jury and the crowd. I celebrate renewable energy, but I thought Berry had a more diverse team and was better pitch wise.
Laevo – middleweight champion
Boudewijn Wisse from Laevo (exoskeleton to fight back stress in heavy work environments) entered the stage with the exoskeleton. Stefan Spanjer from Kite Robotics (robots to clean windows) was the most energetic. The jury vote ended in a draw, so former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende had to give the last vote: it went to Laevo, because of its impact.
Verwaayen again had a sharp remark about Laevo: “You’re about prevention, not curing.”
StartupJuncture vote: Laevo. I had a mixed feeling about this. I could clearly see the potential of Kite Robotics, but I thought Stefan pitched his company all wrong. He was funny, sharp and straightforward ballsy. Love that. But if you don’t know how much you will save per square meter (something you should know when you’re in the window cleaning business), you’re done. It doesn’t even matter that an exoskeleton is not that special nowadays. But Laevo it was. Mainly because Boudewijn was clear about the savings for employers, and also because the device costs about 1600 euro – which is not that expensive.
Nettcity – heavyweight champion
This was a battle of opposites. Jeroen Volk from Invoicesharing (free invoice distribution platform) was the high energy, polo with a logo wearing guy. Rob Vasbinder from Nettcity (waste to fuel) was the stoic, brown blazer wearing guy.
Again, some sharp remarks by Verwaayen to Nettcity: “Engagement wise: I give you 10/10. But investment wise: you can learn a lot from other startups here.” He wasn’t really impressed by the startups: “I don’t see why the both of you are in the heavyweight class.”
StartupJuncture vote: Nettcity. The energy from Jeroen was intense. Also: bonus points for the self-criticism by calling his startup “the most boring startup of tonight”. But in the end, the impact of Nettcity in remote areas around the world made me change my mind. But I’d loved to see Rob being a bit less serious.
Photo by StartupJuncture
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