Background

Helping breakthrough startups across the valley of death

By Henk Zeegers, a former research engineer, R&D manager and director at SMEs and (semi)governmental organizations. He’s currently an entrepreneur and consultant. His book “Start-up or start-app – why break-through start-ups often fail” is available now.

Leestijd: 6 minuten

Because they renew the regional industrial tissue and spawn new OEMs, startups that bravely develop new advanced technology should be cherished the most. However, their very nature makes them most susceptible to failure. Former startup entrepreneur Henk Zeegers offers advice on how to increase their chances.

In 2013, I, along with several partners, Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) and health insurance provider CZ, started the company Rose. It was founded to provide remote care robot services to the elderly and people with physical limitations. In April 2015, we were only left with enough money to carry on for two more months. Shortly after, management and shareholders concluded that it was no use to go on and decided to discontinue the company. In early 2016, Rose was deregistered with the Chamber of Commerce: the end of a promising adventure.

Many startups end up in bankruptcy or are forced to terminate. Startups are very special companies: they have to survive a long time without any operational income. During this period, they depend on private investors and public funding. If this funding is interrupted for whatever reason, their backs are against the wall: they get stuck in the infamous valley of death. Breakthrough startups, which focus on developing a completely new advanced technology, are most vulnerable. The question is: can we help them overcome the valley of death?

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