On 25 September the 5 startups that win a Brabant Startup Award will be announced. In the run-up to that event in Tilburg’s Wagenmakerij we look ahead with the members of the jury. Today Jaap Schuddemat, CEO of Heliox in Best.
Heliox specialises in the development and supply of “power converters”. These are electronic solutions that convert electricity into other forms of electricity (other voltages and currents), or into light, sound and regulated currents, for example for charging batteries. Initially, Heliox focused on consumer electronics, later medical systems, industrial applications and chargers for electric vehicles were added. Recently, Heliox became well known as the supplier of chargers for the electric buses of VDL.
Two moments were decisive for the development of Heliox, says CEO Jaap Schuddemat. “It goes without saying that it everything starts with the decision to start in the first place because without it you won’t get a business. We started as a spin-off of Philips, which initially sold this part – ‘Power Solutions‘ – to a Spanish company that went bankrupt just over a year later. Together with four colleagues, we said: we can do better and started Heliox. Three years later, we decided to expand our portfolio with chargers for electric vehicles. After thorough market research, we started to focus on electric buses. The credo here is that we help to ensure clean cities.”
Then it comes down to hard work and continuing to be alerted by the opportunities that present themselves. “Entrepreneurship in the first phase is pioneering. Searching for customers, operating with great flexibility and ensuring that you develop the right products. This way you connect the customers to you, so you can start growing.” At the moment Heliox is in the phase of rapid growth, says Schuddemat. “And that means that you have to create a clearer structure, without losing customer focus and flexibility. That also means we propagate entrepreneurship to our employees.”
Schuddemat says the Brabant ecosystem is “super important” for his company. “We have a wide range of customers, suppliers and knowledge sources within a radius of about 20 kilometres of the company in Best. Also, personnel with the right education and mentality is concentrated here, thanks to the TU/e, Fontys and Avans.”
As a member of the jury for the Brabant Startup Awards, how did he look at the candidates? “During the assessment, I paid special attention to the business case: how unique is the idea, how difficult to realise? I also think scalability is important: can you conquer a large part of the world with it? As a company, you should not want to stay in the Netherlands.”
Schuddemat does not have a golden tip for starting entrepreneurs. “It’s far too easy to think that following a golden tip could make you a good entrepreneur anyway. Still, a starting entrepreneur must have a number of characteristics: belief in and passion for the company and its products, an open mind to the world of your customers and perseverance: action instead of talking.”
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