In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, Daan Kersten and Tessie Hartjes, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All five contributors are all working on technologies that can provide solutions to the problems of our time. This Sunday, it‘s Tessie Hartjes’s turn.
On June 6th, I officially started working in my first full-time job. That sentence, to me, used to represent a final goodbye of the freedom within the kindergarten named “Bildung”. Failing during your bosses’ time is now too expensive so stop toying around and start to color inside the lines of expectation. I fooled myself for a pretty long time with that idea.
I’m not really sure whether for me it is work, a hobby, a curse, a lifestyle or all that at once but what I do know is that I fully enjoy the start-up adventure at Lightyear. In the past five weeks, I’ve thought to myself “What the fuck am I doing”, more often than what I can count on the fingers of both hands. Purely by amazement, slight panic but also out of thankfulness to be able to join such a great mission. Although I am a statistical outlier, I still feel part of a sort TU/e golden generation. The student teams, as well as Innovation Space, are feeding an energy and vigor that will not only increase the international visibility of this region but the whole of the Netherlands. It is a hidden treasure for companies such as Google, Microsoft or IBM for which I think they are currently looking in the wrong places. Luckily for Lightyear though.
My timing was quite right: I joined just before two important Investor Café nights, with a public launch planned right in between. Re-reading our press release until the middle of the night, checking the website, making a time plan (which eventually never works out) and running through checklists. That might not sound inspiring but oh boy what a crazy experience it is. Knowing that with those texts we could potentially reach millions of people. And it happened: from one day to the next we went from an unknow start-up in Eindhoven to a name known worldwide within the landscape of electric vehicles.
“Mashable: You can keep your measly normal electric cars, Elon Musk – the real future of automotive power will be fully powered by the sun.”
Such a moment is always stressful because you barely have any control over the outcome. We only planned the recordings from the NOS and RTL in the morning and the spread of our message through a Thunderclap campaign on social media. Our message would reach over 300,000 people directly but this reach was quickly reduced by the algorithms of Facebook and Twitter. Lesson learned. Also, during a live radio interview it turned out I wasn’t the only one at the table but they had also invited Carlo Brantsen (it could also have been my own inattentiveness btw). He turned out to be a critical surprise but that also made the whole conversation a more lasting impression amongst the listeners. People now took the effort to send me their support which they otherwise might not have done. No hard feelings btw, I even thanked him for his critical views. It keeps you on an edge and I really believe you should be ready for these things the moment you decide to put your story out there.
The beauty of such a period is that it really strengthens your team. You’re in this together and you will also collectively celebrate the successes of for example the first 10 sold cars, many reservations, new ambassadors, the Gerard and Anton award or our presence at CES 2018. And this is only the beginning!