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image 2019 03 07

A warm welcome to our new co-founder Esther van Loon! She is currently still looking for a co-founder who joins her on her adventure to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry with a digital startup. Curious to learn more about her? Check out the blog below...

What drove you to join Holland Startup as an entrepreneur in residence?
Esther: 
I want to restore the public and private balance within the pharmaceutical industry. When I was writing my thesis, I realized how complex the pharmaceutical industry actually is; the system is complex, there are many different parties involved all with different (self-)interests. Furthermore, the industry is not transparent and it is therefore difficult to define a real problem definition. Let alone come up with a solution. My head was a jumble of problems and once I formulated a problem definition, I had difficulty investigating/supporting the problem. That is when I realized the pharmaceutical industry is too complex to build a disruptive startup on you own, which is why I joined Holland Startup; to help me focus and coach me through the lean start up.

Tell us what you’re going to be working on with Holland Startup and your co-founder?
Esther: 
Together, we are going to build a disruptive startup to change pharmaceutical cultures. First,  we will perform field research to improve our knowledge regarding the pharmaceutical industry. Then we will clearly define several problems within the industry and together will choose the one that we find most interesting and build a startup from it.

What is your learning goal in the first month?
Esther: 
Focus, compartmentalize problems, getting to know the cofounder and have fun!

Best part about what you’ve been doing so far?
Esther: 
Meeting incredible people that might want to become cofounder.

Which successful entrepreneur/company inspires you and why?
Esther: 
MyTomorrows, because I believe they have potential of making a difference within the pharmaceutical industry.

What do you think is the most challenging part of your position?
Esther: 
Ego’s and different interests.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Esther: 
Listen to your own feeling.

What did you expect when you joined Holland Startup?
Esther: 
Coaching and financial support. I would describe Holland Startup as "Enablers". 

What are you looking for in a co-founder?
Esther: 
Someone that is similar to me but fulfills me in my weaknesses and vice versa. For example, I can be quite impulse and wanting to move forward too quickly. Therefore, I would like the co-founder to be more cautious.

What does no one agree on with you?
Esther: 
My taste in music.

How do you think your best friends would describe you?
Esther: 
Funny, ambitious, energetic and determined.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Esther: 
Pharmaceutical cultures! Simplifying the drug development process and yet enabling safe innovative drug products to enter the market with an affordable price.

Where are you from?
Esther: 
Oosterhesselen, tiny village in the province Drenthe 

Tell us what it was like growing up in your hometown.
Esther: 
Until I was twelve I lived in Oosterhesselen where I felt I had a very safe upcoming. Then I moved to Barcelona where I lived most my teenage years and developed the pillars that established the person that I am today.

What was your childhood dream job?
Esther: 
Becoming a researcher and finding the cure against cancer.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Esther: 
Determined, funny and down to earth.

What is your favorite thing to do in Utrecht?
Esther: 
Sitting on the terrace with friends in the summer.

What is your top-secret advice for people in or coming to Utrecht?
Esther: 
When it is spring buy a floating boat and some beers. Cycle to Krommerijn, set up your boat get inside and get comfy. The current will get you to the city center.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Esther: 
I could live everywhere for one or two years, but in the end I would want my permanent residence to be the Netherlands, maybe in Utrecht.

What book or movie do you think everyone should read/see and why?
Esther: 
Unbroken, I love how determined he is and how he does not let horrific life changing experiences get him down. Instead it makes him stronger. Furthermore, what I find beautiful about the movie is that even though his life was made impossible when given the opportunity he rises above it and chooses not to be as petty.

If you could trade places with any other person for one week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be? 
Esther: 
With my best friend, our lives are in many ways 180 degrees completely different and I wonder if that kind of situation would fit me.

Yvonne

What drove you to join Holland Startup as an entrepreneur in residence?
Yvonne:
I have always had the ambition to change something in the world and make real impact with the work I do. I think that the fastest way to reach that ambition is by entrepreneurship.

Tell us what you’re going to be working on with Holland Startup and your co-founder?
Yvonne:
We want to connect people on a peer-to-peer basis through a platform for non-professional services, like an Uber for small tasks.

What is your learning goal in the first month?
Yvonne:
Get rid of the university mentality and get into business.

Best part about what you’ve been doing so far?
Yvonne:
Everything I do, contributes to the future company we are building.

Which successful entrepreneur/company inspires you and why?
Yvonne:
I just listened to the podcast from Daniel Ek (Spotify)- Masters of scale and I love how he changes the music industry with Spotify, despite the distrust he got from big music labels. He transforms music listeners to music lovers with his app, which is a very inspiring way of treating the customer, not as how they are but what they could become.

What do you think is the most challenging part of your position?
Yvonne:
The most challenging is, for me, that work is never finished, there is always something to research or improve.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Yvonne:
You are responsible for your own happiness.

What did you expect when you joined Holland Startup?
Yvonne:
Nothing, I usually don’t have any expectations when I have no idea what to expect.

What are you looking for in a co-founder?
Yvonne:
Ideally, he would also have eastern-European (preferably Albanian) roots, be funny and he must have the same drive as me.

What does no one agree on with you?
Yvonne:
This is a hard one, I think that many people do not agree with me that the actions of one person can make a difference to the world.

How do you think your best friends would describe you?
Yvonne:
Idealistic, caring and honest.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Yvonne:
Injustice

Where are you from?
Yvonne:
Schiedam, a city close to Rotterdam.

Tell us what it was like growing up in your hometown.
Yvonne:
My neighborhood in Schiedam was very protective and calm. I went to school, ballet, soccer and tennis together with my twin sister, Vera. When I wanted to go out for shopping or fun, I would go to Rotterdam, I still like that city a lot. People in Rotterdam have this ‘niet lullen maar poetsen’ mentality, which means something like ‘stop bragging and do something’ that resonates well with me.

What was your childhood dream job?
Yvonne:
I wanted to be a detective, after watching inspector Morse.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Yvonne:
Open, active and caring

What is your favorite thing to do in Utrecht?
Yvonne:
Going for a run along the canals.

What is your top-secret advice for people in or coming to Utrecht?
Yvonne:
Walk or play tennis in the Rhijnauwen forest and check out the cows, sheep and Dutch scenery, then eat pancakes in theehuis Rhijnauwen.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Yvonne:
Singapore

What book or movie do you think everyone should read/see and why?
Yvonne:
‘Running lean’ by Ash Maurya. I just got it as a present from Holland Startup and it is a very useful book if you want to start your own company. If you want to learn more about people, brains and why we keep making stupid decisions: ‘thinking, fast and slow’ by Daniel Kahneman.

This week we are in the Bunker with Federico Spiezia Co-Founder of bittiq with Hidde Koning at Holland Startup

 

Can you tell us what you’ve been working on with Holland Startup?

Federico: I’m working with my co-founder Hidde on changing the way people deal with saving. And especially how millennials deal with their money.

 

What is the best part about being a co-founder?

Federico: I really like the fact that you work with a person that is sharing everything you’re going through. Pains but also the gains. It really feels like you have much more energy and much more power. The fact that you can trust the other person and share literally everything that you do. It’s something more than just having a colleague. It’s like having a partner in crime or something like that.

 

What is the most challenging part of your position?

Federico: What is challenging is that you really have to start from scratch. You have nothing in your hand when you start and everything is up to you. This is a very good feeling but somehow also very frustrating. Especially if you think about the fact that things may not work out. Statistically there is a small likelihood of success. But you also really have to ask yourself what you want to do. Because you start with raw data and with problems that may be visible or not. But your still have to make sense of this all and create something that did not exist before. So that is the biggest challenge I’d say I have.

 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Federico: The most important advice I’ve received is from my mom. Maybe more than a single phrase it’s what I’ve learned from her in terms of behavior. She probably has never phrased it this way but if I can enshrine it in a phrase it would be to always be careful never to underestimate that apart from your dreams and ambitions there are also things that you don’t expect in life and you have to be ready to face those.

 

What drove you to join Holland Startup as a co-founder?

Federico: The way I got in touch with Hidde was through angellist. I first saw the idea there. I didn’t know Holland Startup or Hidde at that time. I liked the idea and I really wanted to work on it. Then I met Hidde and he turned out to be a guy that I really liked. Although I was also a little taken aback by how similar we are. Now I see that there are some differences but at that time I thought we were very similar. Then Hidde introduced me to Holland Startup. I really like the formula that they work with. I like that there is a balance between experience on the one side and a lot of room for innovation on the other side.

 

Which word describes Holland Startup the best?

Federico: Trust. I have never experienced such a high level of trust from the people that I work with. What I really like about that is that they really enable you to develop your skills and your dreams and ideas. You really have the feeling that you are dealing with someone that is at the same level as you.

 

How do you think your fellow co-founders would describe you?

Federico: I don’t know. I think some people like me more than others. I think I still need some time to really get to know everyone at Holland Startup before I can say that.

 

Where are you from?

Federico: I’m from a place next to Rome called Latina, a very nice city on the coast. It’s a small city with about 120000 inhabitants. Very nice environment to grow upin. At least it was for me. Sometimes I’m very nostalgic. I didn’t realise how much I feel like an Italian until I moved to The Netherlands. Which I did because I thought it was time for a new chapter in my life. So I left my job and everything I had and set out on this new adventure.

 

Can you tell us what it was like growing up in your hometown?

Federico: I grew up in a very comfortable environment. The good thing is that it’s a place that really feels like home. The more you grow up the more challenges life throws at you. I have to say that when I’m there it really feels like a small universe where all of the big problems are not as harsh as when you have to face them by yourself. The downside of course is that you live in your own bubble and it very much feels like your life is on a track and that it’s very hard to get off of that train.

 

What was your childhood dream job?

Federico: When I was a child I wanted to be either an ambassador or a secret agent. Because I wanted to travel the world and discover new places. When I grew up a little bit more I wanted to become a lawyer which ended up being a dream I pursued to the end. When I became a lawyer after working for a few years I decided I wanted to do something else.

 

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Federico: I can tell you what my friends would tell you. I’m the one who organises things in the group. I’m the one they can rely on when it comes to advice. And I’m the one that never gives up when the going gets tough.

 

What is your favourite thing to do in Utrecht?

Federico: I’ve lived in Utrecht for just over 2 years now. My favorite thing to do is going out. Let’s say my first year was focussed on going to bed late.

 

What is your top secret advice for people in or coming to Utrecht?

Federico: I like the southern part of the center. There are less shops and less people out there. Few people know that there are some Roman ruins of a temple just next to the Ledig Erf.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Federico: For the moment I really like where I am. But I’ve always liked Paris and Boston.

 

What book do you think everyone should read and why?

Federico: The first one that comes to mind is a book I recently read called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a book about the life of a person that went through a lot of changes in his life. Went to prison, fought for mujahedeen in Pakistan and a lot more. What I took away from this book is that life is throwing dices for you and it doesn’t matter what your plans are. What’s important is how you deal with the surprises that life throws at you. I read it in a point in time of my life where everything was changing. And it’s important that you face the fact that life happens when you’re busy making plans.

 

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

Federico: Barack Obama. I would like to know what it’s like once you’re over something great. Once you’ve done something important and how it feels to be at the end of this process. You’ve worked so hard and now you have to face the fact that someone will most likely undo what you’ve done.

 

What is the most impactful thing that has happened to you or someone around you recently?

Federico: The one I feel most is that my dad recently lost one of his best friends. Whom he went to highschool with. It was a shock for me because I would have never thought I would see this weak side of my dad. It made me reflect on the fact that if it happens to me I would have reacted exactly the same so I really felt so close to my dad. Usually this is quite hard for me because of personal reasons. But it was very important for me to see my dad like that.

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