We already know them by their way of working together. ''I make the mess and Bas cleans it up,'' Ives van Hoorne once again characterized their rock-solid alliance in the finals of the Young Business Award. His business partner Bas Buursma proved to be a great cleaner because barely an hour after this statement, CodeSandbox was named best start-up of the Netherlands.
The four finalists of the Young Business Award (YBA) have collectively raised nearly 40 million euros in growth money from investors. It marks the level of the Young Business Award. This year 341 companies applied and CodeSandbox is this year's big winner. Watch the final episode of the Young Business Award below.
'Good through one door'
The two founders from Drenthe (both 24 years young), who have known each other since the first year of the Nassau College in Assen, had uninhibitedly and confidently pitched their company to the jury of the Young Business Award (YBA). Presenter Jort Kelder clearly enjoyed putting the two through their paces, because the barrage did not elicit any marketing-driven answers.
Have you had to clean up much clutter Bas, was a Basement question. Not too bad, it sounded. And whether Bas often agrees with Ives? ''In the end, yes,'' Bas Buursma replied. ,,We've known each other for a long time, we get along well. When we disagree, we are very honest with each other.'' The biggest disagreement was whether they should move to Amsterdam or not. Ives wanted to, for Bas it didn't have to be right away.
Amsterdam is now their domicile, though. But it does not say that Buursma is the accommodating one of the duo; they get the most out of each other in that Buursma is perhaps the cement of the collaboration. And both know and accept that. The Ten Hoorne-Buursma alliance plus a good idea - CodeSandbox - has set them on the path to unicorn status (company with a billion-dollar market value). Those in the know see it happening. ''It just might,'' noted jury president and investor Eva de Mol (Capital T).
Trading student image for something like leadership
But just as Bayern Munich has no guarantee of winning the Champions League, CodeSandbox does not have the certainty of a unicorn future. Nevertheless, for now they do outrank Greener (mobile batteries), Felyx (rental scooters) and QuiCargo (filling empty trucks), the other finalists. And they're going to spend the next few years tinkering assiduously with their platform where developers from all over the world can collaboratively write software, while on the same platform they can also consult fully with their designers and marketers.
Over the next few years, they still need to trade off some of their student-like charisma for something like leadership. ''That's where we can make our growth,'' Bas Buursma said after the win. Therefore, they will also bring in experienced people, but they will keep the leadership within CodeSandbox. Buursma: ''The investors are putting money into us because it's us, it's our idea and we know something about it.'' How to set up the company, well, we could read a book about it. Someone with experience can tell us and teach us. When it comes to strategy, we know what we want and are fairly opinionated.''
'Sometimes the chaos of Ives is necessary'
Bas Buursma did learn one thing over the past few years. ''You shouldn't have too much of the same,'' he notes. ''With both of us, we have experience as a duo and we both like that. If one of us has doubts, it's said honestly.'' And about "cleaning up Ives' mess," he adds: ''There is room for both of us. It doesn't always go smoothly. Sometimes Ives' chaos is necessary, but in moderation. We've both grown a lot. And we have a lot of ideas, it just doesn't stop. It's about both of us creating the environment in which we can make strides.''
Both young entrepreneurs have already raised 15 million euros from investors and are turning such good sales that they don't have to spend the money yet. ,,We once started in a student's room at the TU Twente, we were living minimally, had hardly any expenses and said: let's get started, there is very little that can go wrong'', Buursma remembers very well. They began as a thrifty, efficient and honest duo and little has changed in that regard. Buursma: ,,That attitude still benefits us.''
Drinking game and talking about millions
An anecdote then passes along about how things were at that time. Kleiner Perkins, one of the largest investors in the world sought contact with them at that time. Bas Buursma: ,,We were in a serious conversation and on the other side of the door the fellow students were engaged in a drinking game. Haha, it was quite bizarre. Was someone yelling again when we would finally join. Pretty absurd that we were talking in such an atmosphere with people who put away tens of millions almost every week.''
Winning the Young Business Award is considered "very cool" by the men of CodeSandbox. And they are happy that the honor will now bring them fame in the Netherlands. Strangely enough, they are sufficiently well known in the international investor world - ''the big investors follow each other and because we have two of the bigger ones on board, they all know us'' - but not in the Netherlands, nor in Drenthe. ''Expectations will be a little higher now,'' Buursma knows. ''It will be quite stressful if we grow with those expectations, but not growing with them is not relaxed either.''