Startups are considered sexy compared to traditional businesses as they are all about new technology, redefining markets, passionate people and unlimited growth. Startups are a bit like the cool kids of the class and the surrounding eco-systems are popping up to be part of it. Examples are the Amsterdam Startup Community, Crowd funding platforms, Corporate Venture Funds and awards…lots of awards. Dutch examples are the Dutch Startup Award, Accenture Innovation Awards, Shell LiveWire award and the Deloitte Rising Star award.

I was always curious about these awards and who the real winner is in the end. Is it the corporate organizer or the contenders? Our nomination for the Rising Star award was just the occasion to find an answer to this question!

Ready steady pitch!

Friday October 9 the top tech-startups in the Netherlands travelled to the city of Groningen for the Rising Star event. The “Big Building” location is a floor in the Postal Services building transformed to a startup community. I really like these locations; they are imperfect and full of energy! The energy levels rose even higher as an audience and 10 startups gathered for their final 2-minute pitch to the jury.

Pitching is a great way to keep the pace in any event and prevent death by PowerPoint. But pitching your company in 2 minutes isn’t easy. In that timeframe you must be able to explain your life’s work to someone that often hasn’t even heard of you. In my opinion the best pitch clearly explains what problem your company solves for your customers. Some of the 10 contenders succeeded and with others you are still thinking “so what do you guys actually do again?”. I think our CEO Brian did really well to pitch Beelert, but that is my subjective opinion of course 😉

The jury of the Rising Stars didn’t only look at the pitch, but also at the potential a company has to claim a place in the Fast50 in the next years. This ranking is for companies that moved out of the startup phase into the fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands.

And the winner is….

Afterwards the crowd moved to the beautiful Mediacentrale where the Fast50 contenders joined the Rising Stars for the award festivities. In the end the Rising Star award went to Bynder, an online Marketing Asset Management platform. The Fast50 award went to CataWiki, an online auction platform for collectors with a staggering 45.000% revenue growth over the last year!

Who is the real winner?

A very traditional consulting firm organized my first award event. It feels a bit like Deloitte is boosting its “innovative” image by being seen with the cool kids (which are also potential clients). So is Deloitte the real winner or the contenders? While the event is part of a clever marketing campaign including a cool new research paper on startup success factors, I think everybody wins.

Besides the free publicity it’s foremost a great way for the contenders to celebrate the success with their teams and likeminded entrepreneurs. Although Beelert didn’t win, it was a great experience to present, network and celebrate a year of hard work with our team as well!

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