Update Halfway through our Incubation Programme Update Words by Kelsey Lee Jones Photos by Maarten Nauw We’re now over halfway through our Incubation Programme. It was three months ago that our Class 2 teams came together in the Netherlands for the very first time, they’ve since been working hard, connecting with mentors, floriculture insiders, growers and innovators to further their green ideas and validate their businesses. We heard it from Irene Rompa on the progress so far. The second Incubation Programme It’s so good to run the programme for the second time, I’ve been able to integrate both my own lessons and the feedback from 2016/17. A point of feedback from last year’s teams was that we could’ve spent more time on bonding at the very beginning of the programme. This year, we spent an entire weekend away with all the teams and Let it Grow team members to get to know each other better and consciously start this Incubation Programme as a group. This has paid off tremendously for the dynamics of the class. This year we see friendships form and people spending lots of time together outside of the programme, I think they’re happy to have met each other. It’s also really interesting that the startup class has evolved from 100% Dutch to 50% from abroad. The startup teams The startup teams this year are again very different from one another, but I can now draw a few distinctions. We have teams working on repurposing materials or re-thinking value: Bloemenstorm is recycling flower bulbs which would otherwise be thrown away, Clorofille is looking beyond the aesthetics with their urban farming kits, and Bloesembar gives a new use to wildflowers by turning them into high-end drinks. Two teams are focusing on new technologies and new media: Jungle on Demand/Overlap.ai are working on an augmented-commerce platform, and Mama Botanica uses social media platforms to enthuse and educate their followers about plants. The other three teams are offering greener and more colourful homes to consumers through plant subscriptions: Bloombox Club connects plant care with wellbeing at home, The Flower Family use sustainably grown flowers, and Blumixx offer ready-made flower bags for greening balconies. The mentors Another positive change for me is having a colleague who runs the programme together with me, Arthur Tolsma. He’s experienced what it was like to run a startup, raise money, go bankrupt, deal with failure; basically go through all the possible stages. An amazing addition to the team and really nice to work with. We have 4 mentors connected to the programme and who each mentor two teams for the entire period. Mentors and teams meet every two weeks to discuss progress, milestones, focus, what experiments are to be done in the coming two weeks, which connections could be useful for the startups and so forth. It’s been great to work with Robbert van Geldrop, Bart Doorneweert, Michael van Lier and Gerwin Hogendoorn. Takeaways My main personal lesson is the importance of connection as a group before you start an intensive programme together. It makes such a big difference. On a business level, I can see how important it is for teams to remain focused and work on the right things, rather than working hard on things that matter less. Effectiveness is much more important than efficiency. I hope the teams reach their individual goals by the end of the programme. Goals differ for every startup. For some, it’s proving they’re right in their riskiest assumption, which leads to proof of concept; for others, it’s reaching a product-market-fit; scaling, or raising the second round of investment. Our group differs a lot in product and level of maturity but even though the end levels differ between the teams, the main goal is that every team develops to the peak of what it’s capable of. "The main goal is that every team develops to the peak of what it’s capable of". Startups pitch at our new year's lunch. Photography by Maarten Nauw DemoDay Save the date. On the 22nd March, we will mark the end of this year’s Incubation Programme and give the startup teams the opportunity to present their progress over the last five months to our wider community. For the attendees, it’s the time to hear what the founders have experienced, learned about the sector and from their consumers. It will be an opportunity to exchange valuable knowledge and present themselves at the same time. We’re really excited! Make sure to check back for details on our DemoDay. Follow the journey of our 2017/18 Incubation Programme Share this article Related Longread Elspeth Diederix and her Miracle Garden On a recent trip to the Miracle Garden, our artist-in-residence Elspeth Diederix reminds us to appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings. 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