Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA
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Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA

The judges will have a fat job of naming the All Star of ten years of the Young Business Award (YBA). The scale-ups selected for the anniversary edition are Chordify, Greener, CodeSandbox and Amberscript. They have impact as the greatest common denominator, but are otherwise nothing alike.

The Young Business Award All-Stars, presented by Constantijn van Oranje (special envoy Techleap) and Lusanne Tehupuring (Founded in Groningen), doesn't count any super spenders of dollars and euros. Although all together there is still some 70 million in investments on the YBA All-Stars stage hosted during the MXT Conference, with Greener (45 million) having raised the most money and Chordify appearing the poorer with 235,000 euros.

This difference in money raised makes it immediately clear how the All Stars operate separately. Because where one is deliberately chasing large sums of money for rapid growth, the other has organic growth at its core. Gijs Bekenkamp of Chordify: ,,We are here to stay, not to grow very fast. We turn the flywheels of impact, not those of rates.''

Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA

Gijs Bekenkamp, Chordify

Digital chord masters from Chordify

After this explanation, it is hardly surprising that Chordify is the senior lot among the participants and was also on stage at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) ten years ago. That was then to explain to music lovers how they could make use of the digital chord masters from Groningen. Today, 60 people work at Chordify, which serves millions of customers around the world.

The emperor of organic growth, that's how Bekenkamp bills his company. Chordify is all about musicality and user satisfaction. Conquering markets costs a lot of money, Bekenkamp argues, which is why Chordify focuses on bonding with users making maturation a growth factor. ''Our business is basically about revenue maximization rather than profit maximization,'' Bekenkamp knows, ''and we do that by helping the user.''

Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA

Anna van Nunnen, Greener

Greener kicks shins

Chordify turns music into digital chords, the still only four years young Greener seeks to banish diesel generators - and especially their emissions - with clean mobile battery power. Amberscript puts spoken text in writing (a sought-after technique in the fast-growing video film market) and CodeSandbox allows developers to write code with each other remotely.

Anna van Nunen recently raised 45 million with Greener from an investor. ''We never had a euro, now we can think ahead for once,'' she sounds cheerful. Greener wants to kick parties with diesel generators to the curb and push them off the market. The number of batteries (container size) has grown from 44 to 73.

'Tastemaker of the market'

It's a bit of an odd goal by Greener, to give diesel users a kick in the rear instead of making money. Van Nunen: ,,We do get looked at now because of what we do, we've become a bit of the tastemaker of the temporary energy market, and we're taking a whole sector with us in the slipstream.''

Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA

Jolien and Peter-Paul, Amberscript

Amberscript's transciption software is also scoring well. The demand of captions to videos is growing hand over fist. About 10 million in investment has been raised. ''We still have quite a bit of that money lying around,'' reports Peter-Paul de Leeuw of Amberscript, ''but we also have some actions in the pipeline.''

Impact and millions of dollars on stage All Stars edition YBA

Bas Buursma, CodeSandBox

Chordify still looking for investor

The fourth All Star is the only former winner, namely CodeSandbox from Amsterdam. The company was founded in 2017 by Bas Buursma and Ives van Hoorne, two schoolmates from Drenthe. The company, which employs about 35 people, has raised about 15 million from investors. Bas Buursma: "We worked hard to expand in capacity. We were running up against a limit, now our application is also suitable for large parties.''

The four All Stars still have plans for the short term. Chordify is about to make a special move in the short term. Bekenkamp and his are actually going around the table with investors. ''We want to pick up some momentum anyway,'' he says. ''We have built up a lot of value by now and at least we don't have to give away the majority of shares to an investor.''

Greener 'for sad reasons the wind in its sails'

Greener is not sitting still either. Having already displaced 70 percent of diesel generators, new steps must be taken. The software is being addressed and a hydrogen generator is coming. Van Nunen: ,,We also have the wind in our sails for sad reasons, because diesel is now expensive. In addition, there is congestion on the grid and that plays into our hands.''

CodeSandbox will also be looking for new money. ''The number of investments worldwide is decreasing in the last six months and so it's getting exciting,'' Buursma notes. ''A very large investment for rapid growth, and thus burning a lot of money, won't happen as quickly now.''

'Four All Stars hard to compare'

All four All Stars have previously participated in the YBA. Van Nunen calls it an honor to be selected as an All Star, Bekenkamp is proud and calls it "perfect timing" because of Chordify's 10th anniversary, De Leeuw is looking forward to it and Buursma is curious: "Ives is doing the pitch and can get down to business. But so is the jury. The four All Stars are hard to compare. Chordify, for example, is a very different company than we are, with a very different dynamic.''

YBA All-Stars at MXT2023

The Young Business Award (YBA) organizes an annual competition for young companies. Every year, hundreds of startups and scale-ups compete for the grand prize - currently an investment of 1 million euros. They are weighted and in semi-finals and finals they are tested by an expert jury.

The YBA will soon exist ten years making it time for an All-Stars edition. This will be organized on Wednesday, January 18 at the Groninger Oosterpoort during the MXT 2023 Conference in Groningen. Registration as a visitor is free and can be done at: