This year the e52 High Tech Piek Awards were presented to nine people who made a significant contribution in the high tech arena (or from whom we expect great things in 2016). A Peak, four Stars and four Blasts.
Every day we speak to one of the award winners.
Today Guus Frericks What Peak Winner Why With Startupbootcamp HighTechXL he has put Eindhoven on the map as hardware innovation city and drawn startups from around the world to this region.
Guus in (slightly more than) 52 words
He has Philips blood running through his veins. Both his parents worked for the company. One day, they bumped into each other in the Light Tower at the former Philips premises – the rest is history. Guus himself left the city as soon as he could, to study business administration in Nijmegen. But he came back (after a successful international career with, yes, Philips). He founded at breakneck speed Startupbootcamp HighTechXL, and is far from finished. “Eindhoven needs to become the high tech center of the world.”
One week after Demo Day – the traditional closing ceremony of the three-month boot camp program – we meet with Frericks. He looks back at the event in the Klokgebouw, where ‘his’ nine startups presented themselves to an audience full of investors and other interested parties. The result of twelve weeks of hard work. According to Frericks the third edition of the accelerator program was three times stronger. “But also three times less sleep and three times more bags under my eyes,” he jokes. Frericks stays far away from romantic stories about the startup life. “It’s really not meant for everyone.”
The other side of the table
Three years ago, Frericks left his career in the international corporate world. It was time to start his own business, he felt. Here in Eindhoven. He began with helping a bunch of startups and saw them all facing the same challenges at some point. “So why not set up a program to assist ten startups at once?” He discussed the idea during a lunch with Patrick Gabriels from EY. Three months later they started.
They did encounter resistance in the beginning. For many the format of three-month boot camp is too short when it comes to high tech development. Frericks agrees: “It takes time to get these products ready for the market. We therefore focus not only on technology but also on the business side. We see a real need for that. “He trains the teams in talking with investors, for instance. Frericks spends at least five to six sessions to show the startups “how the other side of the table thinks.”
The High Tech Center of the world
Still, for him the accelerator program is only part of something bigger. “The region needs a much broader platform,” Frericks explains. A first step is High Tech Plaza, which Startupbootcamp HighTechXL initiated with several other parties. This building on the High Tech Campus is designed as an ecosystem for startups and scale-ups. Frericks aims at a broad startup platform, well connected with other powerful initiatives in the region. It fits his ambition that he also expressed during Demo Day: “Eindhoven needs to become the high-tech center of the world.”
“We already proved that we can bring startups from all over the world this way (six of the nine startups at HighTechXL came from abroad this year), now we must ensure that these companies can also find here the funding the need to scale up.
Hardware is the future, is his strong believe. “Just follow the money. In the US, investments in high tech consumer startups tripled in the past five years. An important signal for how rapid high tech business is evolving.”
“Eindhoven has everything it takes to excel in this high tech niche, we just need to show what we have got”, he explains. “We have great success stories in the field of hardware that everyone should know of. Without a company like Smart Photonics, which makes chips that allow for much more data through optical fibers, eventually Google can not grow.” Cheerful: “Designing complex things that make sense, that’s what we love around here.”