What’s it all about?
Accelerators! What are they, what do they do, and should you join one (if you are an early stage founder/entrepreneur). I speak With Max Ter Horst, entrepreneur and Managing Partner at Rockstart cleantech accelerator about what they are all about, how they help, and what part an accelerator plays in the cleantech ecosystem. I also speak to a couple of founders who have been through the programm to get their thoughts. Luuk Veeken, CEO and Founder of Dexter Energy Services, and Pedro Pinto, Co-Founder and CEO of Fibersail. I hope you enjoy the episode.
About Max Ter Horst:
Max is Managing Partner of Rockstart’s Energy Fund, offering early stage startups access to capital, market, expertise and community through a customized accelerator program and follow-on investments up to series B.
Max is Dutch and based in Amsterdam. He has been active in renewable energy since 2003, when he helped Essent (currently RWE) to establish their wind business in Germany. As Director at EWT, the largest Dutch wind turbine manufacturer, he was responsible for corporate finance, business development and strategy. Further, he was co-founder and CEO of e-kite, a Dutch start-up which developed kite power systems.
Before entering the renewable energy sector, Max worked several years at McKinsey, as Engagement Manager. He holds MSc degrees in Chemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology, Business Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam and an MBA from INSEAD.
Rockstart is an early stage investor that empowers purpose-driven founders across three domains: Energy, AgriFood and Emerging Technologies. Rockstart Energy funds and empowers founders building scalable innovations leveraging emerging technologies and new business models, which are key to slowing down the pace of climate change. The fund was closed in 2022 at €27m.
Rockstart has invested in more than 280 startups and its alumni value to date is more than $1bn. Rockstart is an international team of 45+ professionals dedicated to empowering purpose-driven founders to become scalable and drive positive change on a global scale. The company has offices in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Bogota.
- Rockstart website: https://rockstart.com/
- Rockstart on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rockstart
- Rockstart on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rockstart/
- Rockstart on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RockstartAccelerator
- Rockstart on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rockstart/
About Hyperion Cleantech Group:
Hyperion Cleantech Group is the holding company for businesses focused exclusively in cleantech talent acquisition, retention, leadership development. working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy. We work across EMEA and NORAM, with teams based in the UK, Germany and the US.
Hyperion Executive Search is a retained search firm operating at Board, NED, C-Suite, VP and Heads of… level www.hyperionsearch.com
Fully Charged Recruitment is a contingent recruitment firm operating in the Mid/Senior level. www.fullychargedrecruitment.com
- Rockstart Energy Application Energy – Rockstart
- (99+) Luuk Veeken | LinkedIn
- (99+) Pedro Pinto | LinkedIn
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David Hunt 0:02
Hello, I’m David Hunt CEO and founder of the Hyperion clean tech group and your host for the leaders in clean tech podcast. Now, as you may know, I mentor for a couple of FinTech accelerators. And I’m often asked what an accelerator does and how it can help entrepreneurs and founders. So I thought I’d invite one of the best global accelerators to share what they’re all about really, and how they support companies and what companies get from the experience. But better still, I also have a couple of short conversations in this episode with founders who’ve been through the Rockstar programme to share their thoughts and experiences, one of which is a client of five period executive search. And I know that they’ve benefited hugely from the experience. So my guest today is an entrepreneur and Rockstar, Managing Partner, Max tear Horst. Hope you enjoyed the episode. Hello, Max, it’s great to welcome you to the leads and cleans up podcast.
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 0:58
Many thanks for inviting me, they’ve
David Hunt 1:03
So lots to discuss. One thing that’s I think, really useful in your role, of course, is that not just are you an experienced executive, but also an entrepreneur at heart as well. So maybe you could share a little bit of your background of what brought you to entrepreneurship and clean tech, and more specifically, what brought you to now be managing partner at rocks that,
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 1:27
yeah, that’s a that’s a good one, I actually joined rock star in the beginning of this year. And yeah, I had a career, as you said, in the corporate field with with McKinsey were officially helped a lot of large corporations. And that’s actually also where I came in, you know, got my first experience in renewable energy. So I helped a utility to build their German wind business, to set up the German wind business, and as was the first utility actually doing that, in that market. We were real pioneers, and that really inspired me. And that’s also why I moved in the end to a wind turbine manufacturer. And in the end, also, why I started to eat guide, I was founder and CEO of guides, and the guides will show basically developing so called guide power systems. So basically, you, you you, you generate electricity by flying around, literally. And, you know, that’s I mean, why become an entrepreneur. I mean, for me, what kind of drives me in my career are like, you know, Adventurer contribution to something bigger than yourself and personal growth, right? And if you I mean, if you’re an entrepreneur, they’re definitely adventure, right. But there’s also, you know, I mean, this technology was about, you know, in our view, at least to change the world, right. So that’s really contributing to something bigger than yourself. And yeah, you know, being a founder and CEO, it’s also great for personal development, actually, if you’re responsible for everything. So you also learn about everything. That was a really nice time, I have to say,
David Hunt 3:02
Yeah, I think that’s a great blend that you haven’t come from a corporate van or from McKinsey’s where clearly, clearly you you learn a lot, you get involved in a lot of things, you bring a lot of experience and are surrounded by that. But I think you probably learn as much or certainly more quickly, if somewhat more unstructured, once you throw yourself into founding a business.
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 3:22
Yeah, exactly. I think the dynamics of a corporate are, are quite different from the dynamics of even an SME company, let alone a startup. I mean, as a startup, you have to look, for example, for cash flow all the time, right? Well, if, you know, once you have McKinsey, and you serve big corporates and cash flow, I mean, you’re actually not that much involved in those types of things, or you know, negotiating, or you know, writing all these contracts. These are things that you really learn as a startup and also like that you have to be much more agile, right? I mean, there’s a when I was leading into it, but to be honest, we’ve kind of had to change our strategy every so many months to figure out, figure out the best way to come. A successful business is different if you’re in a corporate where you already have established product, market fit, etc. There’s actually quite a different world in that sense. I’m humble. I don’t pretend to know everything. But I tried to keep my eyes and ears open as much as possible to be to be helpful to startups.
David Hunt 4:17
Yeah. And I think I think it’s a great blend of experiences that there’s just that for startups. So tell us a little bit about we’re going to talk about Rockstar in a moment, just but what what is it that led you from this experience, from corporate to entrepreneur to now no supporting entrepreneurs, but through an accelerator programme? So how did the sort of connecting with Rockstar come about? Well, I
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 4:39
knew rockstars already from my ego time. And I was always began was like 2013 or shorter. We’re just founders. And already then there were quite a driving force in the Dutch startup ecosystem, I would say. I mean, I was, you know, after after me Go time was actually also an interim director for a well run company. And I mean, it was really useful experience. But the thing where my heart really lays is with startups. And I think in his role, you’re actually in a position where you cannot have one startup but dozens of startups. And then in that sense, I would say, also contribute to something bigger than yourself, right? Because if you can help scale those startups, we also can help scale their climate impact. And I think that’s, that’s really,
David Hunt 5:32
yeah. For me, at least. Yeah, that’s my driver behind what we do with with Hyperion is we’re supporting companies to to make an impact to grow. So we’re playing our part sort of vicariously in that turn that transition, which, like you say, as being part of something much bigger than yourself. I mentioned in the intro that I often get approached because I do some mentoring for various accelerators. And I’m often approached by founders who saying no, should I get involved? How does it work? What are they all about? So maybe you could share first, maybe just one or two sentences around accelerators and incubators generally, but then, because they are all slightly different, perhaps then we can share a little bit more specifically about how Rockstar operates as a as an accelerator? Yeah,
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 6:14
well, we have to say, I’ve never been in another accelerator. Right. So in that sense, it’s kind of difficult to shave it. But one thing I do know is from from from also from my, from a guy time, that, you know, when I started the guy that I had, in the beginning, I had kind of the feeling that, you know, maybe a bit arrogant, I know it all right, I’ve seen quite a lot of things in in the corporate world, and they figured out and and you have to reinvent a lot of stuff. And in a way we did it, I think in hindsight, it would have been faster to market. And maybe more efficient in our developments. Have we been in an accelerator. So So I think always having, you know, mentors connected to you. Maybe some principles of like, for example, lean startup and stuff like that, on how to best kind of develop a startup would have been would have been helpful. But there’s a quite a broad range of accelerators available, some are already intensive, and some are, let’s say a bit more high level, I have a preference for the for the more intensive ones because as they mature for Sinemet, especially within DHEA, where there’s no without pressure, right will be no diamonds. So there’s you know, there has to be some sort of something. Yeah.
David Hunt 7:29
And I think it’s been very challenging, obviously, that with the last couple of years with, with the pandemic, and the lack of travel, etc, that there’s not been so much interaction face to face, I think we’re getting obviously back to that situation now, which is, which is really beneficial as well. But so tell us a little bit about Rockstar then in terms of how you differ because you obviously have a VC arm as well, which is not not super typical, which invests at various stages of the process, potentially as well with follow ons, etc. So, you know, if some again, how does that I guess work? Or how does that sort of support the companies in your portfolio? The companies who join the programmes, how does the sort of the day to day experience of those high pressure months or weeks in the programme? How does that look? Yeah, so
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 8:19
there are actually a couple of questions listed correctly. But let me get to those. I mean, in the past, like in the early days, which rockstart actually started for really colocated actually, with, you know, with with rockstart. In Amsterdam, that’s not the case anymore. Also, partly driven by by COVID, obviously, there was that sense of accelerator, but that also, I mean, to be honest, my own with my own startup, I also couldn’t join actually the rocks at accelerator because we could not relocate to Amsterdam for a couple of pressing reasons. So it was just impossible, which was a pity. Now, we don’t have that barrier anymore. So what happened in the in the COVID years was, everything was online, necessarily, that’s not my preference, to be honest, because I really love to connect with people share with people and because then you generate, you get to the trust, right. So now we have actually a very good hybrid model, where, you know, if you look at the programme, it’s far too much and every month has has a deep dive week and a half of the detail weeks are online. Also because you save a lot of travel time you don’t have to relocate. The other half of the deep dive weeks are actually in person in Amsterdam, to create a sense of immersion and the sense of, of community which I think is also really important, I think apart from you know really helping started forward I think to those would be a wild experience in my in my view, and you can only have that if there’s also face to face component in there. So this is how we, how we kind of organised like you know, the remote for She is in person. So in essence, you’re like two and a half weeks in Amsterdam, which is manageable. Yeah, and as I said, there’s five months every month that has a theme. So for example, your your team or your go to market or fundraising or scaling or what have you. And in those data retreats is one week out of the out of the month. You have this this intensive week packed with workshops, one on one sessions, so p2p sessions and so many events. So this is how we would basically organise,
David Hunt 10:31
yeah, but five months is the sort of the duration.
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 10:37
Yeah, five months or so duration, and we have twice a year. So the next. I mean, actually, we just started a programme that will last until, until Christmas, and a new programme will start in February, basically until June and for that programme, actually, also in our skeleton for startups, but I guess we discuss that later.
David Hunt 11:00
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, no, we’ll certainly share, share some of that. So how much does the VC and the support work? Because again, not every Accelerator has that? Addition, if you’d like. So how does the funding work?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 11:12
Yeah, so so it’s fulfilling and support? Right? I think both is critical. I think campbellfield interviewer does differentiate from many other accelerators. I mean, one thing I think we differentiate is that we have a really large base of mentors, co investors, and also corporates that do business with with Rockstar, which means that you can offer a very big network to our startups you have like, I think, like almost 1000. Co investors in our in our database, from small angels to large VCs. We have hundreds of mentors, not only using each and every programme, but if there’s a certain area of expertise required, we have it. And I think that’s really powerful. Because in the end, I think it’s more about building a business rather than getting the next funding round, right, even though it’s still important. Yeah, and I think as you indicated before, one thing that also differentiates us from many accelerators is that we also call it as you know, after the accelerator programme, so if a startup is promising enough, we can keep co investing until Series B. And I think that’s actually quite a critical point. Because what you what you see is that especially directly after an accelerator programme, the typical round size you do down is a one one a half million, and that order of magnitude is actually quite a difficult amount, because it’s actually too big for business angels, but not big enough for VCs. And that’s where we can play actually crucial role, you can step in there with a few 100k. lineup, a couple of you know, Angel co investors or family officers or other groups that have small, little bit smaller ticket size, and gets richer together. And once that’s up and running and start was performing in series A is comparatively easy. Yeah, I think that that’s, you know, that’s something where we really, really add value. And yet, you can only do that if you have also a VC firm behind you. Rather than just an accelerator programme.
David Hunt 13:22
Yeah, nothing, that’s an important part. Actually, sometimes, it’s easier to go for the big money than it is for for the amount that you need it kind of the seed or the pre round. And yeah, having the ability to put together a cap table with with with a few different SEO, whether it’s angels or family offices or so is, is really useful, because I know that again, that. Yeah, that kind of when you’re first trying to make traction, and before you have too much of that it’s really hard to make those even though smaller rounds.
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 13:50
Yeah. Yeah, it’s really I mean, angels, you know, investing in wedding promises, right. And VCs invest in cash flows. And this is kind of an in between feels right to seated seed stage. So rather than, say, the low end of the seed stage,
David Hunt 14:06
yeah, yeah. And it’s really reassuring, I think, because, again, I think, and again, I’ve heard people have come through accelerators, who perhaps didn’t do so well. And there’s a fear that, you know, you either lose some equity or you get involved in the programme, you commit a lot of time and effort, and then afterwards, it’s kind of well, thanks. And see, you kind of don’t get the ongoing after support, which I think is really beneficial. And certainly talking to a couple of your portfolios, which we’ll talk about again in a moment, but I know that that’s been one of the huge benefits is even after the programme, there seems to be as much if not more support after the programme than during the programme.
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 14:39
Yeah, exactly. I mean, you cannot let’s be realistic, you can also build a startup profit startup in five months, right? It’s a multi year endeavour. And that’s our goal. So we feel that there should be a multi year relationship and in the beginning, it’s super intensive to get the company on the right track and then at some point, it can become more independent and you know the frequency drops a bit, but, but we still have frequent contacts on if they do fall on rounds or if there’s some strategic questions where we can, can help. And it’s also for us more fun, right? You don’t say just say goodbye to startup. It’s so much more fulfilling, I think, to really help startup in order to get started startup until to become a real scalar.
David Hunt 15:22
Yeah, yeah, to move through that journey. And that’s something I just wanted to touch on now slightly different for the podcast. But we’re going to clip to in a moment in to a couple of conversations I had with two organisations that have been through the rock splat programme, one of which is a client of ours who again, we were jointly in Berlin recently at pitching an Ico Summit, which is Luke beacon from who’s the founder and CEO of Dexter energy services, and also a comment from Petra Pinto, who’s co founder and CEO at Fibre sales. So two organisations who’ve been through the rock star programme and I wanted to get them to share a little bit of what they got from it or what their thoughts were, because I always believed that other people’s comments about who and what you are always more valuable than your own. So so we’ll take a break brief break from our conversation, and we’re going to have those couple of conversations with Luke and Petro to see what their thoughts and experiences were with with the accelerator
Unknown Speaker 16:19
very well. So my name is Luke Vega, and I’m founder and CEO of Dexter energy, and we forecast energy using AI. So the problem what we what we see is that the increase of renewable energy is disrupting the way energy companies balanced the amount of supply and we are guiding energy companies through this transition with our leading AI based forecasting and trade optimization tool. So actually, in power demand the supply and must be equal and balanced at all times. And energy companies are incentivized to do everything they can to maintain this balance, integrate and avoid balancing costs. So there are three major drivers that are disrupting this process leading to exponential growth of this balancing costs. The first is decarbonisation, of course, which is a shift from dispatchable generation to, to better dependent generation like solar and wind. And of course, this is not steerable and hard to forecast. The two other big drivers are digitization and decentralisation. So the increasing complexity and power portfolio and false changing weather patterns are radically disrupting trading. So from manually optimising a few big assets on a daily basis, energy companies now have to move towards fully automated high frequency trading of 1000s of assets. So this all leads to increasing balancing costs and expectations are that it’s going to be a lot worse before it gets better. And in Europe alone, energy companies pay around 20 billion a year on balancing goals for renewables. So that’s exactly the problem we address first by offering the best renewable production forecast in the market, enabled by our advanced machine learning and data data platform. Second, we provide automated trading strategies by combining our production and price forecasts into optimised and continuous trade signals. And this is a unique product offering so there are no other renewable energy forecasters that offer this solution. at third, we provide an easy to use and scalable techstep setup which saves our customers from investing in costly IT infrastructure, data sources, or human resources.
David Hunt 18:42
Cool. Thanks for sharing that look. So tell me how you first got involved with Rockstar and how was that journey for you?
Unknown Speaker 18:51
Yeah, so I founded the company in 2017. Together with my co founders, Hoover, Ben and forms folio. And at that point, we were still searching for the relevant business models. So we were already developing AI products in the energy transition. But we were still testing multiple use cases. In 2018, we got our launching customer energy company in in the Netherlands called newest home and at that time, the rockstart application also opened up and actually, at that time, I I know Simon Burchell from SIM power I know him quite well, and he did the programme just a year or two years before me and he really advised me to do it. So I applied and I had intro introductions with Yeah, with with some people from Rockstar with some mentors And actually, at that point, I was, I was convinced because the mentors I spoke to were really experienced both in one radiance building and scaling software company, and the other in energy trading. And set. So that was the starting point, reapplied, and we got in.
David Hunt 20:22
Cool. And how has that been for you through the programme? And obviously haven’t come out the other side is, has it’s been beneficial to you? Have you had sort of further engagement with rockstart?
Unknown Speaker 20:33
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So the programme was really helpful. So we learned a lot about about a lot of different things on fundraising, but also on, on hiring, on strategy, business model. And also, especially on making fundraising pitch decks, right, how to pitch your story. Also, we have worked very closely with our mentors. So bonus in, in so far, the other in energy trading, one of the mentors was also an early investor in indexer. And actually, yeah, so also, after we, we finished the programme, we we stayed actually in their in their office for another year, which was great to be to just be surrounded by oldest all our energy startups, that was really great for also for the team and to learn from each other. And also in the in the later funding round, Rockstar joined as well. So they’re actually Janna later funding round they, they sort of became, again an investor. And so now on a monthly basis, we speak to them in the in the board meetings, which is great. So yeah, contact is really good.
David Hunt 22:04
Cool. And finally, then just thoughts if founders, CEOs of companies are thinking about applying to the Rockstar energy accelerator this time round your advice?
Unknown Speaker 22:15
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s, especially if you’re really focused on the tech side of things. So often in in energy, people are really tech savvy, a lot of things about technology. And especially for them, I would advise to join the rockstart programme to learn on all these other fields, right, like financial fundraising, they have a lot of contact with all the major faeces in, in Europe, which of course also helps, helps a lot. So we actually also met or first investors to Rockstar. So, and mainly also for a really tech oriented founders Fundraising Camp. Yeah, it’s a very different type of thing. Right. So it really helps to, to get most out of your first funding round, by, by by by joining a programme like like Rashard show.
Unknown Speaker 23:23
So, my name is Pedro Pinto. I’m the founder and CEO of fibre sail, my background from two different areas, one from Computer Management at the University, but also I’ve been selling coach at two Olympic campaigns, which gave me a lot of knowledge about wins and composites. And that’s what I used to found fibre sell. Back in six, seven years ago. I used all this cross knowledge to develop technology that could measure firstly, the sales of boats, but then we pivoted into wind turbines where we are measuring very accurately what’s happening with the wind turbine blades and to adapt it in the best way so they can improve performance and also to reduce operational costs.
David Hunt 24:26
So tell us a little bit Petra about your experience with rockstart. When did you get involved with me on the programme and how was that useful for you?
Unknown Speaker 24:35
Yeah, so the first couple of years of funding, fibre sale, we were very focused on the technology. We were developing a new technology, which we called shift sensing technology using fibre optics. And what we do is measure the shape and the curvature a longer long structure. But then we He understood that the market that we were focused was not the most, the highest value proposition that we could deliver, we found the wind industry with a couple of challenges that we could help to solve. And when we decided to pivot, then we needed to build the network, build knowledge around the business model, and understand how we would prepare our go to market. And that’s when we decided to join rock start, use their mentorship, use their network, use the investors that they have to set up a plan and reach the go to market as soon as we could.
David Hunt 25:46
Great. And how has that been? Since you came through the programme? Are you still in touch with them? And the mentors?
Unknown Speaker 25:51
Yeah, for sure. So it was quite intense, almost one year, I spent quite some time in Amsterdam, which I loved. Based in Porto, Portugal, but at the time, I was travelling every week to to Amsterdam. And it was really, really nice times, especially with all the learnings that we were having every week. So a lot of meetings happening every day, with CEOs with mentors, with investors. And that helped us to really understand how to reach to our customers, how to make them motivated, to go for for pilots for demonstration, how to set up a business plan how to set up a value proposition that the the would be very much interested in working with pharma sell,
David Hunt 26:53
right. And in terms of founders who are considering joining the latest rockstart programme, what kind of advice or thoughts would you give them?
Unknown Speaker 27:01
Yeah, that’s quite interesting. That was something that I was thinking a lot how to take the most out of the programme. So the first thing I had to do is to dedicate my full time to, to the programme, it’s really difficult to have a lot of other tasks. So one of the things is to dedicate a lot of time to the, to the programme, to all the meetings to all the tasks that we are asked to develop time to prepare all the meetings, all the people that we were going to connect. That’s that’s one part of it. Then, another thing is to reach out to all the mentors, the rock stars that have a huge network of mentors, of advisers of investors, and it’s up to us to reach them out to see which ones make sense for us to get their their advice, get their support, get their help, and all of them joining not rock stars are very motivated to help startup founders like, like me.
David Hunt 28:10
Great, so good to get those responses from people who’ve obviously been through the programme and shared their thoughts. Hopefully, that’s given some some sort of stimulus if you’d like for people who are founders who are listening or to share with founders, people who listen to podcast to share with founders who may be thinking about how they scale and how they approach an accelerator because you are you mentioned before recruiting at the moment for the next cohort for for the energy accelerator in particular, can you can you share Max a little bit of what types of technologies what types of companies what what stage of development you’re looking for, to join the programme?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 28:49
Yeah, sure. I mean, what we’re looking for are, in principle precede stage startups in the Energy and Climate space. Occasionally, we also invest in in smaller seed rounds. But let’s say the sweet spot is really precede startups with a corporate team of three to five people do two pilots just about make revenue or just pre revenue so that so that you get a feel of of the of the state to be part of one of the earliest professional investors I would say in in startups earliest stage. Our domain focus is really broad. And it’s also because we’d like to really have the best startups and if you if you narrow down too much your your scope, you will find difficulties in doing so. So if you mean if you say energy and climate it, for example, also includes, I don’t know green mobility startups or startups focused on reducing the co2 emissions of industrial processes or carbon accounting or you know, start Out of strike like this. And I think we’re also able to pull it off to to do that in a professional way. Exactly. Because we have so many mentors, mentors are part of the selection process. And obviously, I don’t know each and every corner of the Energy and Climate space, but our mentors together, they do notice. In this way, we can actually have a really broad domain focus, but still ensure that we select select the best.
David Hunt 30:35
Yeah, you obviously get very close to the founders, as we’ve just heard, which is great. So what do you look for? You mentioned I’d say a broader range of technologies are open to a broad range of technologies. What are the key factors both on the tech side? And perhaps more importantly, what are the key factors that you look for in the founders that you feel are the criteria to join the programme?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 30:57
Yeah. So again, on the tech side, we are, you know, we’re kind of really flexible in the way I think, I mean, it might become difficult if it’s super, super capital intensive, so it’s less your hardware only. And then then it might, might be difficult, but still, we look at their startups, and see if there’s a workaround, or whether there’s like, a feasible way to I don’t know how to do kind of financing, external financing for for working capital, typically is difficult in the beginning, alpha or startup, and it’s in the first pilots also typically quite expensive. So read 100% hardware tend to be difficult. But on the other hand, most startups you see are rarely 100% hardware systems, the software or a combination of software and hardware, like for example, fibre scale is doing right. Yeah, they have a sensor and the, you know, there’s a lot of smartness in their software. And that combination is really interesting, because, okay, yeah, you do have, you know, some, some, some some manual material cost, but with a, you know, a device that costs, you know, X 1000 euros, you can improve the performance of German, which cost you extra million. So, that is, in our view, scalable. So, again, everything software or hardware with a software component that, that definitely all in and as you indicated, I mean, there are various things you can look at, at a startup, to be honest, in the early stage in which we invest, there’s always some, you know, something’s broken, right? Because you haven’t really been through the process of, you know, achieving product market fit. So inevitably, you get something wrong, and you have to try it out. So actually, what really, really, really counts is in the team. To be honest, I think in reality is more I think, the year long experience, working with people that allow you to judge whether whether people are good or not, but are our team is good or not. But I mean, a couple of things we look at is like in order intrapreneurial people are the ideas do have some commercial sense, but do they also have the hunger to change the world, right? Because if it’s like, if you’re an entrepreneur, and you have like, you know, my ambition is to have a small midsize business and I can just have a nicer income, then that’s very okay, but not so good for our accelerator, right? Because then you have external investors don’t go there. Right. It’s also not good for them. So this is this is in relation and ambition level, I think. It’s very important. I think another aspect is coachability. Are they listening? Because if they don’t listen to people, they might also not listen to signals from the does not listen to customers, for example. Right? And yeah, and again, in beginning, you have to change the model a few times before you get it. Right. So Coach ability, I think is super important. And obviously, you know, I think the energy space requires a bit more experience than other spaces. So every bit of relevant background and obviously, required skills, that’s also important, but yeah, maybe to do introduce a McKinsey framework, you have the skill will matrix, right? I think for me, the will is definitely more important than the skill, because if you really want you can you can learn stuff.
David Hunt 34:19
Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot to actually say that when you’re young founder setting out but it’s, I think a key thing you mentioned there is sort of coachability the willingness to learn and to grow as well as having the big ambitions. So, Jake, you mentioned at the start of the podcast, max that now things are a little bit more hybrid. There’s not necessarily the need to relocate to Amsterdam, what’s the sort of the geographic reach of companies that you’re recruiting into the programme this time?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 34:46
We’re basically recruiting across Europe. That’s, we cannot invest outside Europe. Okay, but we invest in Well, I think we know we have are startups in seventh or eighth from seven or eight different countries in Europe? Okay, so our scope is Europe. Obviously, we also have since our home markets we all feel so definitely also look for, for for for ditch startups. And then we can also also really want to push let’s say to ditch, it says that this energy transition, but our scope is really European wide. And also if you look at our, for example, investor base, right, we also have connections with European wide investors. Because we also see that I don’t know if you want to help German startups probably better and also have a German investor on board who understands local market situations because you know, energy is a regulated industry and regulations, different countries, we also need to also have a country view, I think. I think it’s important.
David Hunt 35:50
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That said, Of course, it’s a global issue. And, obviously, certainly Pan European issues that we’re addressing. So it’s good that companies are founders from outside of the water scene in Amsterdam, we have so many clients in Amsterdam or in the Netherlands broadly, but it’s great that companies from across Europe can participate in in the Super programme. So we’ll share on the episode page for the podcast Max various links on how people can find out more or how they can apply for for the coming programme. Any further thoughts on to share with companies who are thinking about possibly throwing their name in the hat, so to speak to join the programme?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 36:30
Yeah, maybe it’s good to just give a really brief overview of how we how the process works, right? So sure data, you can think there will be some LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook pages will be shared that through the US or to the website, or for For start, you can you can apply it. So we we actually call it our call for applications we’ve we’ve opted the summer, and you can still apply until October 11. So there’s definitely still the possibility to apply. But I guess starting to now need to get going. Yeah, we definitely didn’t get a few 100 applications. And out of that we then select Top 15 Top 20 startups after, you know, extensive interviewing by us or by the fan team, but also by our mentors. And under lucky startups, they, they will then pitch during, during our selection days, where you’re also in front of a jury with all sorts of external VCs in there and obviously ourselves as well. And we big depends on BET also on the startups, etc, somewhere between five to eight startups, they today received an invitation to the upcoming programme and, and a proposal there for investment, right, because if he if he you qualify for the programme, we will finance the programme fee, but also bit of cash to to extend your runway so much. Right. And, again, if you’re through the process, I think it’s a real better follow, right? Because I mean, we started with like hundreds of startups. So it’s something that you can be really proud of, I think,
David Hunt 38:08
yeah, for sure. Yeah. And that helps, of course, in any any number of ways when you’re going to market or further funding, etc. In the first days, you’ve been accepted by such an accelerator, and I’ve been through that programme. So I think it’s a good badge of honour to
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 38:22
use Yeah, again, actually is not a button or not, I should say that, you know, people in the market this year, as indicated earlier on. So but but I think we have a good a good reputation in the market indeed. And maybe one thing I forgot to tell us that. So the upcoming programme will start in February, and that only lasts till till June.
David Hunt 38:45
Super Well, listen, we’ll share all of those details on the episode page. And again, head to the Rockstar website where you will see various more informations, and then the ability to apply. But thanks, Max, for sharing your thoughts, you know, in terms of how things work, and how entrepreneurs can benefit from from such programmes, and obviously, you hear how they can participate. Now you to close, I think you’ve been obviously touched on already in corporate life and entrepreneurial life and now in in accelerated life. Since I know it’s only a year, but are there any sort of particular anecdotes or stories that you’ve what you’ve really enjoyed in the last year since joining rockstart With with some of the conversations and some of the founders you’ve been engaged with?
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 39:26
I know that you know, and actually when I was, you know, within guide, I also knew rockstart and Roxette at the time, I think was also quite known for its epic events and definitely had the opportunity but was a startup as well as now in my current role to enjoy a few of them. But I think being an investor is all about people and relationships and actually think it’s so true for life in general, and our people. We live by that so maybe as an example I I’m me as the fund manager and asked to contribute to the accelerator programme. So one of the things they’ve asked me to do was to tell a one hour personal story about myself about my struggles and my victories about the happy but also shared events in my life, which also had a few. And it was really, really emotional session. And but it opened up the whole atmosphere in the programme. And also in the following one on one sessions that we had with the with the startups, all farmers also dealt to their personal stories, which I think allows for really deep personal connections with them, because it was really personal. And I think you need that. Because there will also be difficult times when you should get the pressure gets gets tested. And it’s also very again, it shows the people oriented niche and the founder oriented ness of Rockstar, he actually really surprised me, I thought it was actually brilliant, very good idea to do such a session. So that’s something that I really, it’s really lively in my memory and and really inspirational, I think,
David Hunt 41:16
ya know, sounds a it’s about sort of vulnerability and willingness to share openly for everybody. And I think great leadership always comes with vulnerability and willingness to say that you don’t know everything, but you’ve got stories to tell, and you’ve got experiences to share and being open sounds. Sounds like, yeah, quite a quite an experience. So thanks. Thanks for sharing that Max. Thanks for sharing that your thoughts on on accelerators and how they support founders who are, like you say, with big ambitions to change the world and to do really good things and to support many of them to get there. And to, of course, hear from a couple of successful companies who have been through the programme is, has been great. So thanks so much for sharing that Max and hope the new accelerators are well they’re well applied to and that you have some great cohorts that come out of that
Max Ter Horst – Rockstart 42:04
many things. They’ve also honoured to be in this podcast.
David Hunt 42:15
Hello, and thanks very much for joining us on the reasoning clean tech podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed that episode. And appreciate you joining us again, please do subscribe if you haven’t already. And please do share any episodes that have particular interest within your community. If you do get an opportunity to write us a review on Apple podcasts or your platform of choice, very much appreciated. Hopefully see you on the next episode.