Young Business Award winner BOTS close to unicorn status

Young Business Award winner BOTS close to unicorn status

The Young Business Award (YBA) is a parade of promising scale-ups presenting themselves to a panel of judges. All have the ambition to become a unicorn, but it is distinctive this year to have a winner who expects to be unicorn in just a few months. That winner is called BOTS from Haarlem.

Unicorn status - a $1 billion company - fits BOTS seamlessly. It is a company of big numbers and immense growth. The YBA was also conceived for this type of super-growth company. BOTS has been around for almost two years, achieved a fat 5,000 percent growth and has already reached more than 7 billion euros in trading volume. It is an investment app on which you can super-smartly piggyback on other parties' trading strategies.

The jury of the YBA (Marco Aarnink founder Drukwerkdeal and, Marleen Evertsz founder & CEO NXchange, Ineke Kooistra CEO YoungCapital and Oscar Kneppers founder Emerce, Bright and Rockstart) routinely asks the question to the finalists when they think they will reach unicorn status, because the YBA also has the subtitle of presenting "the next unicorn. All too often the answer is that it's still a few years away.

Young Business Award winner BOTS close to unicorn status

But Michiel Stokman of BOTS has to think for a moment and says dead serious that he expects to reach that status this fall. And he has already reported that an investment of 100 to 150 million euros in BOTS is on the way. All those figures put together add up to a greatness that the other finalists cannot yet match. Chordify from Groningen (turning existing music into chords with algorithms), GO Sharing from Nieuwegein (sharing mobility) and Amberscript from Amsterdam (transcribing spoken text) present fantastic credentials, but BOTS is a size too big.

Moreover, BOTS has a mission. The app wants to make an impact, because investing often provides a second income, thus providing security and safety. In the preliminary round, Stokman even calls it a "social project. According to him, BOTS is a product that fits well in these times when "people are tearing down the pension system.

When it comes to unicorn ambitions, Amberscript and Chordify are a bit more reserved. Amberscript first wants to spread its wings in Europe and Chordify in the person of Gijs Bekenkamp is less emphatic about its own ambitions. That elicits jury member Ineke Kooistra's remark: ''I think Gijs does
don't like to talk about money.'' Which Bekenkamp immediately agrees with: ,,With us it's more about passion.''

Young Business Award winner BOTS close to unicorn status

Chordify has also been around a bit longer and has raised only 250,000 euros in investment externally. Bekenkamp: ,,Money buys speed, but we have so far been able to pay for everything ourselves.'' Chordify is therefore primarily aiming for organic growth.

The fourth finalist is GO Sharing, which currently manages 15,000 shared vehicles and will be 100,000 in two and a half years, if it is up to Raymond Pouwels. It now employs 300 people and by then it will be 1,300. Also big numbers and very impressive.

Jury chairman Marco Aarnink indicates a little later that the jury had "a hell of a job. He points out that two companies deliver very nice services, very consciously choose for a bit more organic growth and thus go for the long term. Aarnink: ''The other two companies have one thing in common: they make something special accessible to a very wide audience.''

BOTS finally emerges as the winner, its numbers and speed just a bit more impressive than GO Sharing's. Michiel Stokman is pleased. BOTS may have existed for two years, but there was also a period of preparation. Stokman: ,,I see this as a reward for three to four years of very hard work together.''

e-book "Ready for the next step with your business?
Ready to take the next step with your business?

In this e-book:

  • Discover our tips on how to grow your business
  • What can Business Development do for an entrepreneur?

    Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.
Read white paper