The Digital Mission to the Valley is going strong! Part of this Digital Mission was a mentoring masterclass and a fireside session with alumni that took place last week. During this alumni session, winners of the Academic Startup Competition 2020 were able to learn from previous winners. Part of this fireside chat were Vincent Laban, co-founder of SPEKTRAX, Karianne Lindenhovius, co-founder of ArthroSave and Tim van de Rijdt, Chief Business Officer at Mosa Meat. A lot has happened since they were part of ASC2019. This year’s winners were able to learn from their experiences. They shared their lessons learned that will help the attendees of the Digital Mission move even faster.

First of all, let’s introduce these three companies:

Vincent Laban joined the ASC Program 18 months ago. At the time, he was involved with a nanotech company. With the advent of the coronavirus, Vincent started a new company, SPEKTRAX. SPEKTRAX offers a nanotechnology based instant diagnostics platform.

Karianne Lindenhovius is CEO and co-founder of ArthroSave, a medical device company that invented the KneeReviver distractor, made to regenerate damaged (knee) joints postponing a total knee replacement at a relatively young age and preventing a complex and less effective revision surgery.

Mosa Meat produces beef in a cleaner, kinder way. It grows meat directly from cow cells which leaves less climate footprint behind, harms no animals at all and is safer to eat. Tim’s role is to look after the financial success of Mosa Meat.

Repeat your pitch as often as you can

Vincent Laban: “During the ASC 2019 programme, I learned that it’s okay to repeat your pitch over and over again. With all the feedback I received, I changed my entire pitch from tech push to a more “needs” focused pitch. I probably wouldn’t have done so if I didn’t learn that it’s okay to repeat the pitch a thousand times and improve it going forward

Invest time in selecting the investors that really want to help

Tim van de Rijdt agrees with that saying. His advice is to invest time in selecting the best investors.
“For example, I am convinced that the type of investors you work with is super important. Spend time in selecting investors that are not only looking for quick financial wins but find those people that want to help you grow your company. Another strong advice is to select the right tasks for each individual of your team. If you don’t feel comfortable in the CEO-role, split the responsibilities if you have the luxury to do so. Most of all: do what you’re good at. That keeps the spirit high if times get tough.

Translate your invention into a solution and attract the right talents

Karianne specifically valued the lessons she learned related to translating your invention into a solution that people are willing to pay for. Although all people involved in ArthroSave are well educated, none of us had a real sense of doing business and most companies that are an academic start-up have the same experience. “During the ASC and the trip to the US, I really learned how to BRAND a solution, instead of selling Tech. As a result, we decided to focus more on sales and marketing by selling the experience instead of selling science and technology.

Do’s and don’ts when you’re participating in a Digital Mission

During the fireside session, the previous winners were asked to share a couple of do’s and don’ts for people joining this year’s digital mission. Feel free to take advantage of the below do’s and don’ts:

1. Schedule as many meetings and connect with as many people as possible. During the ASC 2019 program for example, Vincent had meetings with people at Google, Apple and Tesla. That helped him moving towards his perfect pitch.
2. Keep on focussing during the digital mission, don’t let yourself distracted by ‘everything’ but search for the answers you’re looking for. The organisation of ASC helps in doing so by organizing weekly coffee sessions. Don’t miss those out!
3. Get the most out of the Digital Mission and invest as much time as you can, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

1. Don’t be scared to present yourself often, it will help you refine and improve your pitch
2. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Most people in the US are open to connecting and helping you.

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