Photo of the program's participants.
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Closing of first accelerator program Future-Proof Building

'It's all about focus, focus, focus!'

'The key question of the last few weeks was: is the market waiting for your product? We learned that it is good to take a step back to move forward," said Hajo Reinders. He was one of the participants in the first edition of the Accelerator Program Future-proof Construction for startups. Aimed at innovative companies working on bio-based and circular building or data-driven management and maintenance of infrastructure.

Thursday, April 25, marked the conclusion of the accelerator program at the former Floriade site in Almere. The result? A certificate and bottle of Flevoland wine. But above all: inspired and dedicated entrepreneurs working with focus toward the next step.

Open and dynamic

The program included group sessions, substantive meetings, progress talks and sessions with experts. 'Questioning each other in particular yielded a great deal. Understanding, insights, ideas, but also feedback and criticism. Sometimes it rubbed off. But you could tell that something was being done about it. The atmosphere was open and dynamic. And meaningful cross-pollinations occurred," says coach Gijs van de Molengraft, who works for Gritd. This company specializes in coaching startups.

Participants were given concrete tools to get started with the market validation of their product. And in all cases that meant working hard. Gijs van de Molengraft: "Park opportunities and immerse yourself in your potential client: the early evangelist. Use interviews to find out what your potential client is really waiting for in the future. It's all about focus, focus, focus!

Nose to the facts

'The interviews brought insight! In my case, it even caused quite a change in direction. And in the end, I'm grateful for that,' says Daan Hartge. 'If you participate in this program, you can be assured that you will be faced with the facts,' he says with a smile.

'The risk of a startup is that you stay in your own bubble,' adds John Smits. 'You have a good idea, people around you think it's a good idea and you are convinced that you are contributing to a better world. This program helped me to look at my product and potential clients or customers in a different way. Like other entrepreneurs, I also ran into challenges. Certifications, for example. But above all: is the construction industry in the Netherlands ready for the products we make? A lot revolves around money.

Construction task

Alex Berhitu, team leader of Innovation at NOM and initiator of the program: 'We see in the Netherlands that many developments are taking place in the field of bio-based and circular building. These developments are incredibly important. Just when you look at the enormous construction task ahead and the increasing scarcity of (building) materials. How do we ensure that these products are actually put on the market? With this program, financed by the National Growth Fund, we are contributing to this. And the great thing is that we are doing this together with four development companies.'

'We look back on a very successful first edition of the accelerator program,' says Alex Berhitu enthusiastically. 'I see entrepreneurs who went through tremendous development in the last few weeks. Each in their own way,' he says. 'The path of a startup is not straight. But focus gets you far,' is the participants' conclusion. During the inspiring graduation day in Almere, they share their latest insights. They also make agreements to explore collaborations and continue to share successes and experiences with each other in the near future.

Also interested?

As a startup entrepreneur, have you developed an innovative circular or biobased building product but are wondering how to effectively enter the market? Are you experiencing stagnation in the sales process or want more insight into your ideal customer? Sign up for the acceleration program Future-proof Construction. It really takes you further and gives many (new) insights. But if you want to do this well, you have to be able to free up time', say the entrepreneurs of the first hour.

The following startups successfully participated in the first edition of the acceleration program: Pretty Plastic, Beecot, Rawblox, SAM panels, Wikihouse Foundation, Inside Out technologies and BouwBoeren.