On March 27, the fifth edition of Young Business Award starts. Hundreds of companies applied; only a handful made it through to the semi-finals. On March 27 and April 17, they will get the chance to present themselves in 60 seconds to a professional jury. And on June 28, the winner will be announced during a dazzling finale. This winner not only takes home the title, but also gets a prize pool of €15,000 euros. What does winning such a title mean and why is this award important for the entrepreneurial climate in the Northern Netherlands? We speak with Niels Palmers, founder of the YBA and Roland Sars, former winner and current jury member.
Groningen is not in Denmark
Surely it is remarkable: a national competition with events in the northern Netherlands. The semi-finals take place in Groningen and Leeuwarden, the finals in Emmen. But for Niels this has been an important motive in founding the YBA: "I noticed that for my company I had to go to the Randstad very often for serious things like networking, pitching for funding and collecting customer feedback, while in the north of the Netherlands we have a wonderful testbed and very fertile ecosystem for many different types of companies. I could put that better on the map. Amsterdammers still think Groningen is in Denmark and we are too modest, so it's hard to change that image. That is why I opted for locations in that region. Participating companies are thus introduced to the network and offerings here and that is important." It is not the only driving force behind the event. Indeed, for Niels, these awards are just the beginning. "We want to start a movement and together with my team I am already well on my way to doing that. Entrepreneurship is a mindset, actually a way of life. We want to propagate that by making successes visible. We show what these entrepreneurs do and don't do on their way to success. In this way, we inspire others to become entrepreneurs as well."
Entrepreneurship is fun, but not easy
One such success is Media Distillery. This company in Artificial Intellegence based in Amsterdam won the previous edition of the Young Business Award. Roland Sars stood on the podium as CEO: "Winning was of course fantastic, but participating alone also makes a lot of sense. The application procedure puts you on edge, because you have to present a well-founded story to get through to the semi-finals and the competition is strong. Then the pitch on a large stage in front of a professional jury: this gives you a unique opportunity to present yourself and your company. The fact that we won was of course extra nice. It garnered a lot of media attention and we noticed that the title still works as a kind of aptitude test that you have passed. That helps enormously."
Roland has now taken a seat on the jury, so he is experiencing this year's awards from the other side. "Very interesting, I'm looking forward to it. The level of the start-ups is very high. I will pay attention to different things like scalability, market potential, but especially the team. In the end, especially in a start-up, it's about the entrepreneur. Can he or she carry the business and guide it through the difficult phases is just an essential question. Because entrepreneurship is fun, but absolutely not easy."
Dhe new "big boys"
The latter also agrees with Niels: "As an entrepreneur, you just really often get a lid on your nose. There are setbacks, difficult moments, every company experiences a crisis sooner or later. As an entrepreneur you work hard for little, especially in the beginning. We want to show that it pays off, that it can be done and thus convince young, starting or doubtful entrepreneurs to start. They can get acquainted with the mindset needed to become a new "big boy." Because the start-ups on stage this year definitely have that potential."
What is the best young company in the Netherlands?
On March 27, the following companies will compete for the title at the semi-final in Martiniplaza, Groningen: Hotelchamp, Mr. Chadd, My Data Factory, Storro, Tilledmedia and We4Sea. On April 17, the second semi-final will be in De Harmonie, Leeuwarden with as contenders: The Next Ad, African Clean Energy, Invoice Finance, Jungo, Seamore and Somnox.On June 28, 2018, the final will take place led by presenter Jort Kelder in the Atlas Theater in Emmen. Partner of the Young Business Award Sprout will announce on the same evening who is the Best Young Entrepreneur of 2018.Tickets are still available, sign up (and more information) can be found on the website .