If one thing became clear during the All Stars finale of the Young Business Award (YBA), it is that startups are tumbling into a life they could not have dreamed of a decade ago. And if the judges appraise it correctly, the all-time winner of ten years of the Young Business Award, CodeSandbox, will go after the lives of such parties as Booking, TakeAway and Catawiki in the next decade.
Ives van Hoorne, the Drenthe-based technician at CodeSandbox, about five years young, hears the eulogies with amazement. ''I seriously didn't expect this,'' is his first reaction. ,,I thought all the finalists were very good, but also very different. Another one might as well have won.''
'CodeSandbox has the potential of hypergrowth'
Anne-Wil Lucas, manager innovation and internationalization of the NOM, has a difficult task as jury chairman this time, she agrees. For she and the other jury members note that a linear scale and measuring stick will not work with finalists such as Amberscript (transcription of spoken text), Greener (mobile green batteries), Chordify (turns music into chords) and CodeSandbox (remote work on software code).
Impact, technology, ambition, science, money, marketing and founders are so different at all of them, that the jury chooses the scale-up that has the most potential to be a global player ten years from now. And that is CodeSandbox.
Lucas: ''All of these companies will be bigger in 10 years, but Ives van Hoorne and his associate Bas Buursma have the potential of hypergrowth and can be among the world's best.''
Interesting for top global companies
Ives van Hoorne likes the compliment. ''But we still have to live up to it,'' is his comment. CodeSandbox was also winner of the Young Business Award (YBA) two years ago. A lot has changed since then, although it is still the case that Ives is the technical wild man, and the chaos he leaves behind is adequately dealt with by Bas Buursma. But more importantly, CodeSandbox has for some time now been able to handle very large projects, making it much more interesting to the world's top companies.
Van Hoorne and Buursma have raised around 14 million euros in investment money and will soon visit lenders again. They got their first million via a video call from their dorm room with renowned American Kleiner Perkins. Beerpong playing fellow students made so much noise that the American could barely understand them.
Leadership is a service
CodeSandbox's duo is still very young. The three other All Stars are more mature, matured and experienced. Take Chordify, the digital chord masters from Groningen who have a home game because the YBA All Stars is part of the MXT Conference and music festival Eurosonic Noorderslag. At that same festival, Chordify first presented itself ten years ago.
Gijs Bekenkamp now has a rock-solid pitch on behalf of Chordify, in which he makes it clear that Chordify makes different choices than most companies. ''We constantly ask ourselves what we need and whether we can add to that demand ourselves,'' is one observation. Another observation: ''We now know better what leadership is. It is an act of service rather than control."
People don't have to gain trust but leaders have to give trust.
The one customer from North Korea
Only 1 percent of the millions of Chordify users are from the Netherlands. Most customers are in the U.S., Canada, France and Germany. Bekenkamp with a laugh: ''And there's the one from North Korea.''
Greener's first task is to eliminate CO2 emissions from diesel generators. Mobile green batteries are offered to eliminate the polluting generators. This is going very well, reports Anna van Nunen (ex-Innofest), although corona seemed to become a killjoy for a while. However, it switched from festivals to construction sites, among other things.
And then fourth is All Star Amberscript which can convert spoken text into written text. Highly sought after for films and videos. It's an immense growth market, where Amerscript likes to use its combination of artificial and human intelligence.
Constantine praises 'brilliant' YBA
In the end it is CodeSandbox that takes the honor of the winner. At the end all the beaming faces, including presenter Prince Constantijn. He does the job together with Lusanne Tehupuring (Founded In Groningen). Constantijn loathes pitch competitions, he confesses. ''Pitching has become a circus,'' he thinks, ''an entrepreneur deserves better than that. The YBA is an exception because the YBA helps the entrepreneur. It is a brilliant initiative that has contributed to the growth of the Northern Netherlands.''