The expat top-10 aims the spotlight on the internationals that help Eindhoven progress. E52 sat down with each winning expat to talk about their experiences and perspective on the city they once came to, and never got away from. Today: co-founder of LifeSense Group.
Name: Valer Pop
Living in Eindhoven since: 2001
Valer Pop, a co-founder of LifeSense Group, was born in Romania and found his Eindhoven home through Philips and Holst Centre, eventually leading to his own startup. With LifeSense Group he is working on Carin, a wearable that helps women in controlling their pelvic issues, thus preventing unwanted urine loss.
‘I’d like this interview to not be about me’
“Let’s talk about the environment we have in Eindhoven. What it provides, what makes it a healthy place to do business and what it lacks. It’s not that interesting to talk about my personal life here because it’s the environment, its companies and initiatives that helped me become who I am. I was recruited by Philips, which helped me get my PhD, raised business-wise at Holst Centre and finally made the step towards starting my own company at HighTech XL. Now I have my own office at High Tech Campus.”
“Eindhoven’s infrastructure really caters to business. It has everything an entrepreneur needs. There’s research centres, large and small companies, tech-startups, designers, incubators and mentor-programmes. It attracts talent towards the region.”
‘The only thing missing is capital’
“I’m surrounded by people with great ideas and ambition. However, the one thing young companies seem to lack is capital. That’s were we want to come in. At LifeSense Group we have been working on a startup-fund, which helps young businesses progress through a cash injection. It’s up to them what they want to do with it, we do not demand any shares of the company and don’t interfere with the way they do business.”
We do it because we want to help in developing the area as an attractive place to work. We hope that the companies we help fund, in time will give back to our fund so it can grow and really make a difference to others. We take the kick-off, donating an amount that’s somewhere between 5000 and 15000 euro. It’s not that much for a startup but it’s a start. Even if they end up not donating back to the fund, still they’ve had a positive impact on the economy here, because maybe they’ve grown.”
‘We looked into the ‘needs’ of the startups’
“That’s something I picked up at Holst. Always ask yourself: ‘What does a user need? The only way to find that out is by talking to them. That’s what we did with Carin, the product we’re making with LifeSense Group. We wanted to help women arming themselves against unwanted urine loss. An investor told us to produce some sort of diaper. Because they were to be used everyday, which would create reveneu more easily. But by speaking to our target group, we found out there already were plenty of products suited for this market. And they were of a good quality also. So instead of a diaper we decided on a wearable that helps women work on controlling their urine loss.”
“The same happened with the startup-fund. There already are plenty of mentor-programmes and accelerators in the area. There really wasn’t a need for those anymore. However, we did keep on hearing of startups with funding issues, so we decided to act on that. By doing these kind of things I feel great. I’m a simple man, I enjoy the simple things. Why would I buy a yacht if I can use that money to help others progress. They are probably much more happy with the money as I would be with my boat. It just made sense to me.”
‘Eindhoven is to business, what Ajax once was to football’
“When I got here, some 15 years ago, Ajax footballclub was renowned for the way they reeled in foreign talent and educated them into worldclass football players. I think Eindhoven is doing the same for you businessmen now. This city has become somewhat of a large-scale business school.”
“Everybody here’s ambitious, I’ve always noticed that. But there’s a slight difference with let’s say the American culture. Over there, there’s more of a ‘happy customer’-approach to the way they do business. Also, they have a very strong attitude towards fixing a problem. ‘This is what it is. Now, what can we do about it?’ I like to implement that in my approach to work. It’s my dream to mean something in life, really have an impact. I’m trying to achieve that by doing work like this.”
Thursday, E52 will feature the final interview in the series on expats. Read all of the interviews here.