Rapid testing of craft brewed beer. That's what the Groningen startup SG Papertronics is doing. With enthusiastic brewers, interest from the market and the profit in the brand new Flinc Pitch Camp - a favorable loan of 20,000 euros - as a result.
Well that award is given not only because of the quality of the startup itself, but mainly based on the pitch qualities of the founders. They are more than happy. ''We hadn't taken it into account, with that award,'' says COO Richard Rushby. ,,But we are very happy with it. We can accelerate our plans with it, namely to further improve our product and make the move to the market.''
During the finals late last month, the startup's pitch proved just a bit better than that of Flow Money Automation, which builds a platform that automates money flows. Jury chairman Bjorn Redmeijer, project manager at Flinc: ,,We concluded that Papertronics can make the biggest step with the prize money.''
The event - which was digital because of a certain virus - was preceded by a period of intensive preparation. The Papertronics team and the other selected startups received pitch training, were coached by Flinc and assisted in their plans and forecasts. Redmeijer: ,,One of the best parts of it was that they pitched for each other and gave each other feedback.''
Papertronics founder Maciej Grajewski agrees. ,,It is very inspiring to see other great startups. The culture is different everywhere, we learn from that. Those insights undoubtedly helped us on our way to the winning pitch.''
On the final day, the startups gave a 15-minute presentation on camera, from a studio in Leeuwarden. The two best of these climbed in front of the lens again in the finals to answer questions from the jury, consisting of representatives from NOM, Flinc and an external investor. Grajewski: ,,Very exciting. I have spoken in front of more than a thousand people before. I didn't find that scary at all, but a camera like that is much more frightening.''
The Flinc Pitch Camp is especially important also because of the huge network that will be exposed. Richard Rushby: ,,It's obviously a showcase for us for investors. Immediately after the event, several people came up to us with advice on potential lenders, good suppliers and you name it.''
SG Papertronics is developing a handy testing system that can fathom craft brewed beer in minutes. The amount of alcohol, acidity, sugar content, color, bitterness, it all registers at lightning speed. And that helps brewers enormously in maintaining or bringing the quality of their beer up to par. Lab-scale tests have already been conducted for Groningen brewers BaxBier and Martinus.
Rushby: ,,Initially that is still at a distance to demonstrate that we can give test results that are useful to brewers. In the meantime, we are working hard to get the prototype of the testing device finished so they can also start testing themselves. By the end of February, we will be rolling out to more breweries with our Minimal Viable Product. We'll use the feedback to make improvements and sometime after the summer we want to continue to market. We have done market research and know that the need for our tests is great.''
Grajewski earned his PhD in pharmaceutical analysis from the University of Groningen in 2018. I enjoyed researching and publishing, but I preferred to create something tangible, something I could enter the market with. We got a patent on our technological solution, which was a great step.''
He stumbled - knowing that the medical sector is a very difficult one to get between - into the craft beer brewing market and discovered the need for fast, accurate testing so that quality control is continuously at a high level.
Until the moment of the real launch arrives, the SG Papertronics team is working to perfect the product. Meanwhile, other markets are being looked at with an oblique eye. Rushby: ,,Of course, quality control and testing are needed in many more places. We are already seriously looking at this on a small scale. First let's focus on the beer market.''