So far we’ve spoken to nine young and ambitious companies in our Top 10 Start-ups to Watch series. Eindhoven companies that are ready to take on the world. For this last instalment, we’re meeting two entrepreneurs who crossed the ocean to make it big with their company, SpinControl Gearing, which started in the United States and came to the Netherlands last year to take part in Startupbootcamp. The Dutchies liked them and the BV was founded. SpinControl now has its office in Helmond.
We’re Skyping with founders Eric Carrier and Greg Brackett, who are sitting in front of a screen at their holiday home in rural Florida.
An American company that is putting advanced worm and worm wheel technology on the market here in the Netherlands. (According to the e52 Start-ups to Watch jury)
Maybe you don’t follow the developments in worm and worm wheel technology very closely, but you’re using it all the time. When you take the escalator, open an electric garage door or use a kitchen appliance – it’s all powered by this technology.
Worm and worm wheel (the worm is on top of the worm wheel).
It’s an ancient technology, which, according to Brackett and Carrier, was in need of some innovation. While traditional worm gears work with frictional contact, SpinControl has developed a rolling movement which creates less friction. Brackett and Carrier believe this can reduce energy consumption by up to 30 %. Other advantages include considerably reduced wear and almost no need for lubricants.
How did you end up in the Netherlands?
“We’d been going for some time in the United States. In 2005 we found four angel investors who gave us the means to carry out a feasibility study and to make a prototype. When it proved to be successful, we tried to get our patents – something that would take another seven years. In the meantime, we were approached by Startupbootcamp HighTechXL, who asked if we’d like to take part in their programme where you spend three months intensively developing your company. The idea really appealed to us.”
What did you get out of it?
“We got our most important lesson during the Startupbootcamp period. Intially we wanted to build our own research & development centre in Florida, a place where we could make gears for various applications.
But Startupbootcamp talked us out of that
We were seriously advised not to build our own place, but rather to collaborate with local companies. There are so many technical companies here in Eindhoven and in the surrounding area that could help us to further develop our technology. And because everything is so close by, it’s feasible. In rural Florida, where we come from, that wouldn’t be a good idea.”
We took the advice to heart and it became clear that we really didn’t need to build a centre with expensive machines and high employment costs, we could keep developing with the help of our different partners here. That was a useful piece of advice that probably saved us about a million Euros.”
What’s another lesson that you’ve learned this past year?
“What was really important for us was being able to expand the team. That’s also been a lesson, because we were doing everything by ourselves for so long that we had to learn how to delegate. But once you do it, if you’ve got good people, you see that you’re really starting to grow as a company.”
How big is the team now?
“There are eleven team members. Four of them were mentors during Startupbootcamp who are now working part-time for us, and we’re really happy with that.”
“What we’re doing is offering interested parties a licence to sell our technology. Lots of different countries are interested in this kind of licence. We’re focusing on two sectors in particular: the industrial sector and the electric vehicle sector. We recently developed another prototype and put into an electric golf buggy, which could then go 30 % further with the same battery.”
Do you plan on staying in the Netherlands?
“Absolutely, we’ve finally got our residence permit. A new regulation for start-up visas came into force in January of this year and SpinControl is one of the first companies to have received this kind of visa.”
This is the tenth and last profile in the Top 10 Start-ups to Watch series. Read all of the other profiles: