The story of the Netherlands’ first blockchain incubator

Alexej Jordanov
Dec 18, 2017 · 6 min read

A passionate group of blockchain entrepreneurs aspiring to solve global challenges.

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The building blocks

September, 4th 2017
The journey started when a group of brave entrepreneurs stepped into a room cheerfully welcomed by a storm of applause and powerful high-fives. It was the baseline of an upcoming adventure filled with a thriving energy and the beginnings of a beautiful community.

Since that day, the morning ritual persisted: everyone greeting each other with warm applause and high-fives.

The entrepreneurs made already a long way before starting the intensive 8-week long incubation program, which took place at Techruption, on the Brightlands Smart Services Campus.

Out of 522 applications, only 9 startups were given the opportunity to join the Netherlands’ first blockchain incubator. One important criteria of selection was their ability to prove that their early-stage idea had the potential for positive impact in society.

The vision behind the collaboration between Techruption and the Brightlands Innovation Factory was to attract startups from all over the world that would provide solutions for humanity’s toughest challenges.

The batch of new pioneers came from the USA, India, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands carrying their luggage filled with stamina, eagerness and passion.

Why a blockchain incubator program?

As the blockchain landscape has shown in the last year, most startups race for the biggest amount of token sale raised while forgoing the basics of
business.

If you want to create meaningful impact, you first need to get your fundamentals right.
— Léon Klinkers, CEO, Brightlands Innovation Factory

Solid foundations in business are key for sustained growth. Early-stage entrepreneurs start with a puzzled picture of their journey. We make sure to clarify each piece of the puzzle to maximize future success by providing the best tools and environment.

Together with Techruption, we aim at providing the aspiring pioneers with a reality check when it comes to their early-stage idea. Blockchain has been buzzing around since the last year. We make sure that this break-through technology is fully leveraged at the core of its intent: impact.

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Go disrupt, or go bankrupt

Blockchain has the potential to disrupt various industries and significantly challenge current established systems. Through this program, we made sure to catalyze the power of this emerging technology in the most meaningful way.

At Brightlands, knowledge is crossing borders. The change-makers identified major problems in the fields of Health, Materials, Social Impact, Education, FinTech, Sustainability, AgriTech and Data Privacy.

The pioneers

Behind every promising idea is a wonderful human with a story that matters.

Topl.co, empowering growth by enabling investment in developing countries.
Christopher Georgen (USA)
Fields: FinTech, Social Impact.

Pitch of Topl

Right Origins, enabling transparency of biological food in the supply chain.
Akash Matthew & Sudeesh Narayanan (India)
Fields: Food, Supply Chain, Sustainability.

Pitch of Right Origins

Saga.one, face-to-face blockchain lessons from experts in your city.
Matthew Neary & Eric Boby (New-Zealand)
Fields: Education, Social Impact.

Pitch of Saga.one

Yieldport, guiding investment opportunities in the world of new finance.
Guido van Stijn & Mark Gesterkamp (the Netherlands)
Fields: FinTech, Alternative Finance.

Pitch of Yieldport

Alvis.io, giving businesses a clear conscious with GDPR compliance.
Leo Bekhuis (the Netherlands)
Fields: Privacy, Security, GDPR.


One2Go, your carefree service to get home safe after having a drink.
Boris Zinzen (the Netherlands)
Fields: Mobility, Social Impact.


Block Materials, creating new value by inventory of materials in office buildings.
Dennis Meevissen, Marteen Stadhouders, Erol Otzan, Simon Duindam
(the Netherlands)
Fields: Materials, Construction, Sustainability.


Share Square, connecting businesses with the interest and location of consumers.
Dominic Quentin (the Netherlands)
Fields: Smart Services.


Consense, an automated, secure and trustworthy way to manage informed data consent.
Marta Giralt Sanchez & Oskar Person
Fields: Health, Privacy.

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In order to validate these ideas venture experts, masterclasses, partners and guest speakers provided the startups with valuable industry knowledge, network and support.

Venture Experts

Venture experts are a crucial component of our community.

In their first week, the entrepreneurs pitched their early-stage ideas at the Venture Expert Day. More than 70 specialized experts in business strategy, blockchain development, entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, law and IP among others, went through a match-making with the startups.

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Throughout the program Venture Expert shared their precious knowledge and network with the startups.

“This program gives them the opportunity to quench their curiosities, which is vital in creating new solutions that can change the world for the better.”
Stefan Gergely, Blockchain entrepreneur & Venture Expert

Program

We believe that most early-stage startups underestimate the importance of a solid business foundation.

Masterclasses

The masterclasses give startups a structure in which they can validate each part of their business through the knowledge and feedback of experienced entrepreneurs, executives and experts.

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Startup founders with Dimitri de Jonghe

Throughout the program, entrepreneurs were also given several blockchain development workshops by Dimitri de Jonghe (Blockchain Application Director at BigchainDB), alum Emil Stoyanov (CTO at ReCheck) and partners from TNO.

“After spending a day with the Brightlands community, it was clear to me that this isn’t your regular incubator. A perfect catalyst for startups that want to field test their ideas into the market.”
Dimitri de Jonghe, founding member of Bigchain DB.

Co-creation in the DNA

Techruption is a co-creation space by definition: bridging forward-thinking corporates with startups in an open setting to facilitate the implementations of use cases. It’s a playground for blockchain and AI to solve climate change challenges.

We noticed that it’s not only the idea that makes an entrepreneur great, but his attitude and willingness to stimulate intellectual honesty with fellow entrepreneurs. Co-creation was very present throughout the program and we were stunned to see how cohesive and collaborative the founders were with each other.

As a result, Right Origins and Topl are planning on starting a pilot together as of next year. ReCheck, accelerator alum, has also supported the various startups during the program.

“Preservation is unnatural. Creation ultimately always wins.”
Vince Meens, Blockchain lead at Techruption

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Startups co-creating

Weekly Progress Pitches

Every week the startups pitched their progress in front of Venture Experts in order to receive feedback with the following mantra:
- Hypothesis: what was observed?
- Experiment: how was it tested?
- Results: what came out of it?
- Action: how will it be implemented?

The most important was to inhibit the learned lessons in a constructive and pleasant environment, rounding off the week with drinks and laughter.

Get Out of the Building

At the end of their 8 weeks of constant iteration, hard work, pivots, sweat, tears, laughter and finally pride, the startups were ready to pitch.

It was the result of a fruitful support and collaboration of Brightlands community members, Venture Experts and mentors that shared their dream and ambition.

We do not believe in big demo days. Instead, we prefer to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of the entrepreneurial hustle, together, with the entire community. It’s the opportunity for us to test our own assumption: measuring the success of the program we provide.

As an outcome all the 9 startups were eligible for early-stage funding by the regional investment bank LIOF, from which 7 received funding.

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25th October 2017 — Get Out of the Building-Unplugged

Partners and network

If you need a village to raise a child, you need a community to grow a startup. We made sure to surround the program with key partners that would give the entrepreneurs access to their precious network and expertise.

“We have been blown away by the quality of the network, and you are given contact to exactly the right people for your case.”
Oskar Person (co-founder of Consense)

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Official partners of Techruption

It was one of the most rewarding community building experiences and I’m looking forward to how our ecosystem will develop further!

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