Welcome to
StartupsAnoniem

StartupsAnoniem is the place for startup founders, employees, investors and all other startup enthusiasts in The Netherlands to share their stories, ask questions, comment and offer advice anonymously.

It is pretty simple

Read or write. Ask questions, comment, offer advice, share your stories and experiences so we can all learn. In Dutch or English.

Welcome to StartupsAnoniem

Read or write. Ask questions, comment, offer advice, share your stories and experiences so we can all learn. In Dutch or English.

Europe needs bolder tech investments.

As a founder who moved from Holland to Silicon Valley, I recognize a lot. Closely related to the BBMKB discussion a few discussions down)

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/europe-needs-bolder-tech-investments-mikko-alasaarela

Story
Story
NO COMMENTS

How to perform due dilligence of investors

Hi, 

I am the founder of a startup and right now in the midst of talks with a number of angel investors. How can I discern which investor I should be most interested in? What are some red flag signes for investors? 
Thanks!

Q & A
Q & A
1 COMMENT

Should I go for fast money or the right investor?

I am the founder of startup. I am right now talking with multiple investors. It’s obvious who the right investor is, but the ‘lessor’ investors want to close the deal as soon as possible, while the better one needs more time. I have the runway to wait three more months, so in theory I could wait. 

I am not sure what the right decision would be in this case. Go for the fast money or wait and get the better investor or risk getting no funding at all.

Q & A
Q & A
1 COMMENT

Claim or prove

As a startup founder i have always believed that my product(s) need to prove themselves in the market. I believe in building stuff lean, but in my opinion your lean product should at least do what you promised it would do. As of late I notice that a lot of Startups in their eager to please the customer or find an audience, claim they have a product that works, when in fact it doesn’t by a long shot. In my opinion the marketeers in these startups have this whole going lean with the product proposition all wrong. Sure, fake it till you make it, is fine to some extent but to already actively claim and promote your product is doing X or Y while this won’t be ready for some months (or might never be ready because you don’t have the funds) is in my opinion just lying to a well meaning audience who is giving you and all other startups the benefit of the doubt by trying out your product. So please tell me if i am maybe just an old guy reminiscing about times long gone, but when do you guys start to claim a market, when your product is already there, or long before that time arives?

Confession
Confession
3 COMMENTS

What is a reasonable burn rate?

Most startups I invest in report to me their monthly burn rate. The amounts vary widely: from 8k up to 55k, and often exceed revenue. Given the fact that most early stage Dutch startups only raise a few 100.000’s per year (see numbers at StartupJuncture, or check Leapfunder, Symbid or Oneplanetcrowd), I am at a loss why startups would consider burning more than 25k per month. Are they underestimating the time needed to get traction? Am I too conservative? Or is the cost of living/running a company that high? 

I would like to know what you think is a reasonable burnrate for a early stage startup (rev less than 10k) 

Q & A
Q & A
2 COMMENTS

How transparant should you be towards colleagues?

I’m an founder of a successful Dutch startup. My job is to make deals/negotiations with a various amount of clients, keeping everybody aboard and happy. I do believe in transparency within the company. It’s just, do you need to tell them everything? This is a question I ask myself frequently. Should they know every detail about the deals I’ve made? Somehow it feels good, they know where they work for, money-wise. At the other hand, they know what they are worth, and could quickly ask for a raise. If anybody out there experiences the same as I do, what is your approach?

Q & A
Q & A
4 COMMENTS

How to start to get funding from UK & US

I’m experiencing that the startup climate in Holland is not bold enough to attract investors into a good plan where the business model may not be totally clear yet.

That’s why i want to get funding from investors who feel comfortable in taking a little more risk in a promising concept.
I would like to hear some experiences from other dutch start-ups that found foreign investments
Thanks 
TK

Q & A
Q & A
2 COMMENTS

What to do with angry clients?

Hi, i’m a founder of an web agency. 

It occurs (fortunately not that often) that a customer is angry. We’re an web agency, and sometimes during deliveries, stuff goes wrong. Still it’s always manageable. 

If I get an angry email / phone, I often feel myself very unpleasant, my breathing adapts and I prefer to hide me under a rock if possible. Angry people I always try to avoid and ignore their e-mails and phone calls, what’s making the situation worse. 
If someone is angry, my mouth is shut, i don’t know what to say or I say things that work like oil work on fire.
It seems that only the little boy in me can respond, and to please wherever possible. 
I just do not prefer to fight, and I can not stand it if someone does not like me.
Sometimes the anger of the client is justified, sometimes it isn’t. 

Most of the outcomes of an angry client, I’m giving in.
Changing my own desired options, and doing whatever the client wants to fix the situation.
This often comes to a cost of my expense or the team.

What to do? Do I really need to be a jerk, and piss everybody off?

Q & A
Q & A
4 COMMENTS

stealing personel

As a founder i am used to work with people who are more talented than me in most fields. Like for instance coding . I have my own team of people around me who build stuff, but for certain projects I will hire a bigger third party with programmers to build an app or particular service.
For these big IT companies i am simply a client, I always thought, but I was amazed to learn that as of late that by hiring programmers into my company the IT company started to activily scout my own programmers for their company. Offering my personel better contracts behind my back. On of my core personelmembers actually took the contract in the middle of a big project and when I went to ask this IT company what the hell they were doing by taking vital parts of my team away and that i wanted my programmer at least back until the end of the project they simply stated I could hire him back for their commercial rate.
These IT companies normally have it in their contracts that you can not hire one of their guys/girls when they are doing a job for you and here comes my tip, I am very happy that I had this IT company change their contract with me in the beginning, stating that it was also Viseversa the case because now atleast i have legal  grounds to fight this plundering of my startup. So dear founders please watch out when you let bigger companies into your firm because they can treat it like a candystore, just taking everything that they like and leaving you with a half finished product and their bills to pay!!!

Story
Story
3 COMMENTS

Moeten oprichters melden aan investeerders dat ze ooit failliet gingen

Iemand die ik ken heeft zojuist een campagne gestart op Symbid. Deze persoon heeft eerder een bedrijf gehad, en dat is failliet gegaan. De campagne-starter heeft dit niet vermeld in zijn bio (hier staat ‘ervaren ondernemer’. Is dit relevant voor de crowd om dit te weten? Had de campagnestarter dit moeten melden?

Q & A
Q & A
5 COMMENTS

What to do when it’s not about money?

A few years ago I created a website which is a mix between a link directory and an open Wiki. My goal was and is to become the Wikipedia for links. I want to stay independent and I don’t want a business case based on advertisements because in general that lowers the user experience dramatically. 

In fact I don’t have business case, although I have the following dream about the future. In the beginning the costs should be low. When the site grows and becomes popular I might start yeatly donation rounds like Wikipedia. So I created a low budget website hosted at Google App Engine (which costs me around 2 euro per month) and tried to promote my website via social media and a blog which isn’t a huge success. 
As alternative I added links myself. However to become a huge website this way isn’t possible. In fact I knew that from the beginning, because that’s the reason I created a Wiki in the first place.
So at this moment I think the only way is to advertise, however I want to stay independent (i.e. I don’t want to borrow a lot of money or start a fundraising round). The only thing I want is a lot of media attention and exposure so that the site will become as well known as Wikipedia.
Someone a suggestion? Thanks.

Q & A
Q & A
5 COMMENTS

Goldrush

I’m seeing the scene more & more saturated in both ends – startups and the likes investing / supporting. There are too much mediocracy and too many incubators; startup events look more and more like huge rock festivals where you don’t see the same face twice. These events are smart. They’re selling shovels to the rushers.

Startups are anxious as most investors don’t care (it often involves investment policy but really, everyone is after something established or unicorns) about their philosophy “to make the world a better place”. I don’t judge them, they’re actually smart and experienced people. However, the leading rhetorics is that it all is about making a change. And investors themselves, in the other end, are getting more & more tired of saying “no”, so they prefer to hide their badges and walk in common areas as little as possible.
I have contacted many investors (very few actually even reply), met enough and I know the magic is also in the personalities matching. However, many stars must align – their job is to minimise risks while taking them.
My advice: consider the FFF (“Fools” is a very cynical humour in this term to my mind) sources and make a priority building a business, not rising rounds. When you have it going you’ll get to a position of scaling. This is when you rise.
Another utterly superficial part is the branding of founders/team – ex-Facebook, ex-Skype, ex-AirBNB – not even mattering what their positions were… And pitching! It’s all really too much in conveyer style… Stand in line, sing a song in your “…next superstar contest” and wait for results.

I guess the world is moving faster and faster, so if my relationship with the industry would be a “relationship”, I’d have to say: honey, it’s not you, it’s me.

:)

Confession
Confession
5 COMMENTS

Use of patents for technology startups?

It seems like the opinions are divided about how useful a patent (and other IP) is to a startup. To many it is an undesired diversion of resources, but to others it holds the key to attracting investors and the company is based around it.

If I don’t have a patent, should I apply for one? 
What about trademark registration?

Q & A
Q & A
7 COMMENTS

The company I cofounded just got acquired and everyone is happy … except me.

I’m absolutely freaked out by the prospect of going on vacation for 3 months, don’t want the ‘earn out’ (the acquiring company has already told us we’d just be sitting on the bench), but don’t know what to do.

I am very fortunate to be in the position I’m in, so no tears for me. Interestingly, I’ve been approached by several companies to be a consultant on a variety of specific projects and rather than sleeping until noon, I like the way that sounds; at least temporarily.

What I’d like to know from people who have been in this position is, what did you do?  My concerns center on boredom, being out of the conversation, jumping too soon to a company that isn’t the right fit and, losing my network of contacts who have to work every day while I’m kind of dangling at loose ends; plus coffees and lunches can only go so far.

I’ve considered going on a long trip for a month, focusing all of my attention on training for a century ride this coming fall, going into a totally different type of business (I’ve always wanted to be a chef), etc…

I feel like I’m literally stuck in quick sand and am not sure how to make a decision on what to do next.

Story
Story
13 COMMENTS

We’re Shutting Down and I’m Scared

After over two years, backing from a well-known accelerator, nearly one million in funding and a decent amount of traction, we’re shutting down.

I’m scared. I’m also sad, disappointed, ashamed, embarrassed & deflated. But mostly just scared.

Nobody but my cofounder and I are aware we’re shutting down yet. It’s been a few days since we made the decision and I haven’t even gotten up the courage to tell my family.

We haven’t paid ourselves a salary for some time with the hopes that we would raise more money, but also because we couldn’t afford to. My wife was counting on me to raise more money, now I have to tell her the news.

We didn’t leave enough money in the bank to pay off our debt, so now we need to tell people we can’t pay. Are they going to come after me, or my house and my car? I’m broke and I’m scared.

Our investors believed in us. They believed in what we were building and our abilities to execute on the vision and future we painted for them. Now we need to tell them that we lost their money. Will they forgive us? Will any investor ever trust us again?

What are we going to do now? I can’t afford to start from scratch again. I’m broke and it’s not fair to my wife to go any longer without pay. Even if I could, what would I even do? Will I be able to get a job? I can’t go much longer without a paycheck. But, I can’t imagine working for somebody else. I wish my wife understood that.

Are we going to get ridiculed for failing? What’s more scary, is anyone even going to care? After all, maybe that’s why we didn’t make it.

I’m not looking for a pity party, I just needed to get out my thoughts and feelings (and maybe searching for answers and advice). Maybe I’ll follow up with a post-mortem after I’ve had time to grieve.

Thanks for hearing me cry.

Story
Story
18 COMMENTS

Lost control of company to investors. What should I do?

I’ve lost control of the company I founded 8 years ago to angel investors. They want me to sit quietly in the corner while they run things, but they don’t ask me for anything and I can see them spinning their wheels. I just want to walk away from this and focus my energy on productive pursuits elsewhere, but I don’t want to abandon the early investors (family/friends) who believed in me. What should I do? Is it hopeless once investors have taken over?

Q & A
Q & A
11 COMMENTS

How significant is the age of founders in your investment decisions?

The press loves stories of younger founders getting big
investments but some data seems to point at a successful founder age spread
from early 20s to late 30s. Obviously the young founder press is good but us
older kids can be good bets too. How much of a factor is founder age in your
investing next to the big issues like idea, execution, and a solid team?

Q & A
Q & A
2 COMMENTS

How Do You Let Things Go (Mentally), Even After The Business Is Closed

Looking for advice on clearing my head of past experiences that still bother me.

My first business was an adventure and full of amazing lessons, I was able to exit sucessfully with no financial detriment. However there are numerous events that happened that I still dwell on these days which give me anxiety and knots in my stomach … how do I shake these feelings?

Long story short, I sold a majority stake in my business to an investor, although I was running the day-to-day, he would step in occasionally and make or over-rule decisions. On several occasions, I got very vocal about believing the path or choice was wrong (for a variety of reasons) and I was overlooked or over ruled. As I had suspected and voiced, the decisions turned out to be disasters, now by no means can I say that any one of these led to the closing of the business, but they still irk me beyond belief because I wasn’t able to change the outcome and to some extent, it makes me feel like a failure in those instances.

I know the responses will most likely say “Get over it, you got overruled, move on!” Look I get it, that’s the rational expectation, but entrepreneurs aren’t rational and I’ve been struggling with these thoughts for a few years now. So, I’m just seeing if anyone else went through similar experiences and figured out a good way to move on. I feel hampered by these thoughts and I feel like they are holding me back from a new venture.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Irrational Head Case

Q & A
Q & A
5 COMMENTS