The Pitch: SODAQ
Every month, an entrepreneurial EUR student is put in the spotlights in ‘The Pitch’. The entrepreneur answers five personal questions related to entrepreneurship and gets thirty seconds – and only one take – for a video pitch. This edition, first year IBA student Olivier Smeenk presents us his Kickstarter crowdfunding project: SODAQ.
When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
“I have always been inspired by my father who is an internet entrepreneur, and one of the initial founders of the popular online accommodation booking platform Booking.com. While my father established the company with his business partners at the kitchen table back in 1994, I was raised to the views of creating things the world needs. Becoming an entrepreneur has always been my dream, however. Growing up, I have been interested in leading own projects, for example in web design, which is independent compared to working for a company.”
What are your personal entrepreneurial qualities?
“I am very determined. Meaning that if I believe in something, I make sure it happens by going for it 100 percent. Next to that, I am definitely a leader. So, while working in a team, I am mostly interested in guiding and leading others, which I believe is an entrepreneurial quality of mine. Also, I am interested in creating innovative products. Rather than complaining about the problems I see around me, I prefer to think about a profitable solution to them.”
A cliché heard often is that you learn from your mistakes. What mistake have you learnt most from?
“For this project, we were too late with our marketing campaign. The project would have been more popular if we would had captured the media’s attention prior to launching the crowdfunding project. Also, for a future project I will involve more people with specific marketing skills, as to get the message out even more effectively. Because it is not only about how good your project is, it is also about how good you can make other people think it is, before they realize how good it is.”
I imagine being an entrepreneur isn’t good fun every single minute of the day. What could be the downside?
“One thing my friends often tell me is that I should stop thinking so deeply about ideas, and more focus on living in the moment. For example, I am in a bar with friends, catching myself thinking deeply about something. And therefore, having missed half the conversation. It is not a good quality, but I guess it is the downside of being an entrepreneur.”
Do you have an example in the field of entrepreneurship?
“My dad, of course. But an even greater example would be Richard Branson, I have always admired what he does. The fact that the enterprise is so colossal is extremely inspirational. If I were to be in such a powerful position, I would leave a positive mark on the world. Often people do not see the point of going against something being just one individual, but if you have power, you can make a difference.” LJa In the previous edition of ‘The Pitch’, two students from the International Bachelor Communication and Media took the stage pitching their coffee start-up Elqava.
Being inspired by the open source movement, Smeenk indentified the opportunity for simplifying the process of having sensory data sent to, for example, the internet or a mobile phone. For this reason he developed a chip-like plug in board named Solar Powered Data Acquisition, short: SODAQ. The board allows any sensor to connect to it, and in return, the board is capable of sending the data to an external device or the internet. Smeenk sees opportunities for his project for instance in third world country farming, reducing the costs of farmers setting up weather stations. In order to develop business around the project, Smeenk had money pledged from funders from all around the globe through the online platform Kickstarter.