The benefits and downsides of working in a startup

Career paths for younger generations have changed. Employment is no longer guaranteed, a degree is no longer enough, and competition is fiercer than ever. In this ambitious environment, every young professional is hoping to make themselves stand out in any way possible.

One effective approach to standing out is acquiring quality work experience: that which will help you learn new skills quickly and help you explore your career interests. One of the most well-known accelerators of learning and exploration are startups. Beginning your career in a startup or starting your own startup has several benefits, including maximising learning opportunities, providing the support to create new things, and trying out future career roles. Starting out in a startup is therefore an ideal way to set yourself apart.

A constant stream of learning opportunities

One indisputable benefit to working in a startup is the endless learning opportunities. With only a few people running an entire business, every employee is granted significant responsibilities much faster than in a corporate establishment.

With short communication lines, change is implemented quickly and each member feels their own impact on a growing business. This level of responsibility not only allows you to optimize your potential, but also opens up countless opportunities to explore new skills. Learning by doing is the best way to gain experience, and starting a career in that kind of atmosphere is priceless.

A laser-sharp, focused environment

Startups do not have the same resources as corporates, so they must have a clear focus on where to spend the resources they do have. Corporate businesses are often broken into departments and smaller units, with each having their own tasks and goals, leading to potentially unnecessary hierarchies and stricter rules. This may ultimately distract work from the intended mission.

Startups, on the other hand, focus less on technicalities and rigid power structures, and more on achieving results while encouraging every individual to maximise their potential, because the successful outcomes from employees’ growth can be immediately felt. With support from colleagues who share your drive for creation, you are less afraid to make mistakes, which in turn, encourages your creativity and exploration. Being able to work in jeans and a t-shirt is also a plus!

Exposure to other industries

Another highlight to working in a startup is the exposure to a variety of different tasks and projects outside of your specific job title. With a reduced company size, all employees are integrated into every role rather than being restricted to one department. The exposure to other industries not only increases general business awareness, but also offers the chance to explore areas that may have a greater appeal to you. For example, individual members on our team have worked at different times on projects related to design, finance, marketing, and business development.

What are the downsides?

It is important to also address some of the downsides to starting a career in a or with a startup. Firstly, it could limit your ability to use the company as a reference, as not many people or future employers will be familiar with the company’s name. Additionally, smaller companies could be limited in the salaries and bonuses that they can offer their employees, resulting potential lower wages than corporate companies.

If you are seeking a career in a specific industry that has already been well-established, then the corporate route may be the best choice for you, due to the very specific, predefined learning directions. However, if you are not certain about your future career path, or you’re still trying to figure out what you love, then working at a startup could be worth a shot!

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Jumpstart your career in a startup!

In weighing up the benefits and limitations of a career path, it is important to consider what a first job ought to provide. As a young person starting out their career, you are looking to soak up as much knowledge as possible and explore all the available career directions, rather than becoming a cog in a wheel with little knowledge of other opportunities.

Entrepreneurship and business styles are constantly changing, so young people need to know how to adapt, and this is not a skill that can be easily learned in a one-dimensional job. Startups are the best possible career-launcher for any young professional that hopes to make their mark on the world.

If you’re looking to break into the startup world to launch your career, check out Dashmote’s vacancies at

Top 3 Tips to Expand your business to the US

in 2017 we opened our Dashmote office in NY. Now a year later, I am sharing my top 3 tips for expanding your business to the US. A big shout out and thanks to the great people that helped us in this journey, and who make my bi-monthly trip to NY & Boston much more fun.

1. Adapt to the local culture

Just like the Dutch, Americans also have a unique startup culture and being aware of some distinctions would be helpful for any business trying to integrate into foreign territory. For starters, the US is a country that is known for having one of the most individualistic cultures in the world - and in business that is no different. This is particularly reflected in the way that people within organizations communicate with their colleagues, where each employee is considered to be an individual with their own unique strengths and talents. In other words, everyone can make a significant difference for a company, and every person has a vital role to the success of a startup.

Another important thing to consider as an entrepreneur looking to expand abroad is the nuanced differences within the work environment. Other than looking at colleagues as equals, you’ll also find Americans to be openly receptive to new ideas and business ventures. In comparison, while the Dutch also like to brainstorm and discuss new ideas, they also tend to be more conservative when it comes to change and to err on the side of caution. Paradoxically though, Americans have a habit of being “overly positive” about things which can be hard to differentiate for someone not familiar with that part of their culture.

While Americans tend to “beat around the bush” to avoid awkward interactions, the Dutch get straight to the point. They are known for being direct communicators, and even though this can be considered an advantage in business, it can also come off as harsh if the recipient is not familiar with this cultural difference. The Dutch like to speak their minds and to communicate their points openly. The difference with Americans is that while they also do this, it is in a more indirect way. For example, if someone in America says your work is ‘okay,’ this means there is room for improvement and that it should be worked on. In comparison, a Dutch person would take ‘okay’ as a confirmation that he or she is doing a good job. Ultimately, communication styles across cultures are vastly different, and when in doubt just honestly discuss what is unclear to you. This will avoid a lot of uncertainty down the road.

2. Come prepared

In reference to doing business in the US, a trusted investor recently told us: ‘The Netherlands is in the Premier League, while the US is in the Champions League’. This means that Americans like to see you prepared for everything, and if you have a meeting planned there is no room for unpreparedness. Americans want to know what you want to get out of the meeting - so make sure to come ready with your goals and how you would like to achieve them already in mind. As Americans like to say: “time is money” and when it comes to pitching your business this rings true. In this sense, their business culture is perhaps even more direct than the Dutch one.

Therefore, make absolutely sure you have done your market research and don’t rely on much, if any improvisation along the way. With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to have some baseline knowledge of some current events going on. Having a meeting in New York? Look up how the local sports teams are doing and. Americans like to have a little chit-chat before they actually start a meeting, and this small interaction could set you apart from a competitor.

Important tip: make sure you have developed your elevator pitch to perfection. This is most likely one of the most important ways when it comes to acquiring new business contacts while in the US. Americans like to chat, so if you can’t briefly explain your business to someone then you might be losing a potentially future client.

3. Do not underestimate legal matters

We found this to be a major pitfall for many fellow entrepreneurs. Understandably, Dutch people will tend to underestimate the complexity of legal issues in the United States. This involves things like setting up a business entity, forming contracts, hiring employees, insurance, taxes and protecting your intellectual property. One has to take into account that these issues are handled much differently from those compared to the Netherlands. For example, do not be surprised when your counterpart brings his or her lawyer to a business meeting. Negotiating a contract takes longer, and is more complicated in the US as compared to the Netherlands, and one of the reasons for this is because by default, Dutch contract law covers more than in the United States. It is therefore advised to acquire legal advice in the early stage of negotiations.

Ultimately, the legal aspect must not be underestimated and we would recommend you to gather insights from experienced advisors within your field. In case you have no clue on where to start with this, do not hesitate to contact a Consulate or an Embassy to connect you with the right local people. For an extensive weekend read, check out this booklet provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

5 Reasons why Boston’s Innovation Ecosystem is Unique


Dashmote was happy to be one of the winners of Xplore US, a contest for innovative SMEs and Scale-ups organised by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now that we are back in Amsterdam, it is time to reflect on this programme and share our insight on why Boston’s startup ecosystem is unique. While doing so, we’ll name the top five reasons we believe Boston should be the next city that Dutch entrepreneurs should consider when looking to expand their businesses abroad.

1. It has the Knowledge & Culture

One can hardly talk about Boston without addressing the city’s renowned knowledge institutes. The city and its surrounding areas account for over 50 institutes, with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology being world-class. These knowledge institutes alone already deliver a staggering amount of talent. Although Boston’s main concern was a significant “brain drain,” numbers now show that this is starting to positively turn around. Both tech and business graduates in Boston contribute to the creation of new businesses, as well as providing improvements for existing tech giants such as Google, IBM, Facebook, Amazon, and Uber whom all also have locations in the Boston area.

Boston also has the highest concentration of millennials in the United States, with more than one-third of the city’s population being between 20 and 34 years old. The city is very culturally diverse, and is often referred to as being the ‘most European’ city due to its old architecture and rich history. With a mix of millennial aged people and old city values, Boston is an interesting combination of new and old which is enticing for European based startups and entrepreneurs. 

2. It has the Future

For the second year in a row, the United States Chamber of Commerce named Boston as the best city for fostering entrepreneurial growth. Their rankings focus on ‘next-wave startups’, and is abundant in technology-driven companies that are developing innovative solutions to complex challenges in different industries. The city of Boston focuses on topics such as life sciences, digital health and biotech, and with MIT just around the corner, technology has become the underlying theme of these companies with a preference for deep technology. Deep technology startups are defined as companies that are founded on a scientific discovery or true technological innovation.

3. It has the Money

Next to the presence of qualitative human capital, Boston ranks third worldwide when it comes to venture capital investments. With 3,144 billion dollars the city accounts for a 7,5 percent share of the global venture capital investments. Although the Bay Area accounts for twice the money, what makes Boston unique is its focus on rapidly growing sectors. Boston based startup companies mainly focus on life sciences, digital health, and educational tech related sectors. Therefore, investors in Boston can certainly be described as more conservative than their West Coast counterparts, who are generally more willing to invest huge amounts of money into companies that are targeting the consumer market.

4. It has the Infrastructure

A great startup ecosystem requires places where all facets comes together, and Boston has multiple hubs where these interactions take place. The center of the city is currently home to over 500 Bostonian startups and is often referred to as the most innovative square mile on the planet and Kendall Square is Boston’s main startup hub. Next to having all the tech giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook present, the Cambridge Innovation Center is located here as well. It is fascinating to see that the startups which are now responsible for the city’s economic growth were non-existent in the beginning of the 21st century. While tech giants experienced a major economic hit during the stock market crash of 2008, the city’s economy amazingly kept on growing because of its investment in startups.

5. It is all Connected

Boston receives a lot of praise for the extent to which its startup ecosystem is connected, and the government has played an important role in the process of bringing the right parties to the right tables. Mayor Martin J. Walsh continually supports starting businesses by means of funding or other governmental instruments which is encouraging for those who are looking to bring their company to the United States. One example is the city’s latest investment into two digital health innovation labs. Another example is the collaboration with IBM to design an online platform to connect, support, and grow the city’s startup community. The borders between knowledge institutes such as MIT, and corporate companies such as IBM are paper-thin, which keeps the innovative atmosphere of Boston thriving.

Apart from efficient internal connectivity within the city, there is external connectivity. This means that instead of an 11+ hour flight, one can fly from Amsterdam to Boston in about 8 hours. More importantly is a manageable time difference, and with Boston running only 6 hours behind Amsterdam, there is still a window to communicate with colleagues or business contacts without having to stay late after work or to get up in the middle of the night. This is a huge difference compared to the Bay Area which differs an entire workday (9 hours) from Europe.

Startup-Corporate Collaboration: A Startup Founder’s Perspective on Working with Corporates


Most of my entrepreneurial journey has involved developing either SME or products for consumers and corporates. Over the last few years with Dashmote, I have truly come to appreciate my relationships with corporate contacts. I have found that whether the contract be thick or thin, there is a lesson encompassed in each project. The purpose of this blog is to share the highlights and lowlights of my time spent collaborating with corporates.

Today’s world is forcing large corporations to drive innovation. The notion, “disrupt or be disrupted” is rooted in the corporate environment. To remedy the pressure for advancement, many corporations are turning to startups.

An overwhelming 82% of corporations now see interactions with startups to be “somewhat important,” and 70% of startups have successfully collaborated with a corporate at this point in time.

Collaborating with corporations is like a white-water rafting: You may get splashed in the face a few times, or perhaps even fall off the boat, but the experience can be truly rewarding if you are able to endure the ride. The thrill of corporate relationships stems from the risk involved. Although partnering with a startup offers huge potential for corporations, there is always a chance that the investment will not be recovered. With this in mind, collaborations between corporates and startups are often complicated. Corporations have conflicting concerns in the collaboration process: One is to protect the large-scale interests of their company, and the other is to invest resources in a startup’s success. The role of the startup is therefore difficult at times, as earning trust within a corporation is a demanding task. Despite the complexity of collaboration however, I have seen that startups and corporates can absolutely complement each other in the right setting.

Corporates offer a vast amount of data, distribution power, and customer networks to startups, while startups add value to corporations by building creative solutions and sidestepping long-legacy processes. Despite the advantages it presents, cooperation between corporates and startups is rarely ever seamless. With this in mind, there are a few tactics that I have found to be highly effective when working with corporates.

Connecting with Corporations

Establishing a common purpose is the best way for corporates and startups to connect. Collaboration works best when everyone is tackling the same challenge. Innovation departments are meant to cultivate innovation within a corporation, and although it is not necessarily in their job description to work with startups, innovation departments often include startups in their recipe for advancement. I recommend that startups first target the department of the end user (in our case, the marketing department) and secondly the innovation department, rather than engage in internal incubators, purchaser offices, corporate venture capital, and hackathons. Based on my experience, the most meaningful corporate relationships evolve from coming together with the end user to solve tangible problems.

Mentor relationships are another great way for startups and corporates to develop a strong connection. When it is mutually educational, collaboration is worthwhile for everyone. Dashmote’s relationship with PwC is a perfect example of this: We received valuable advice on data analytics in exchange for giving a workshop on the startup methodology of growth hacking.

Pilots are also a worthy endeavor for startups. They give corporates a quick, comprehensive explanation of how a concept works. Once companies have an idea of a startups capabilities, they can build a strategy from there. In addition, startups should not limit themselves to free pilots, as commitment fees can convey the time and attention put into a presentation.

Developing a Long-Lasting Relationship

It takes time for startups and corporates to establish solid relationships. On one hand, corporates must understand that a startup’s budget structure, decision chain, and capacity are quite limited. On the other hand, startups must realize that corporates don’t work with the same flexibility, and it may take months to get everyone in the same room for a quick 30 minute meeting. A shotgun approach is often the best way for startups to distribute information to corporates. That is, startups must take a dynamic, responsive approach in order to accommodate the corporate workflow.

Although it may involve late nights and extra shots of espresso, startups should aim to overachieve on corporate projects. Producing exceptional results helps build valuable business relationships. A startup’s prominence within the corporate community not only leads to second-time collaborations, but also opens the door to stakeholders of various business units. Especially with the professional world growing increasingly more interconnected, personal relationships are vital in boosting credibility in future business endeavors.

In addition, it is essential that startups have a clearly-formatted documentation method in order to spread and update their community. This allows followers to come along on the startup’s journey. Onlookers will further invest themselves in a startups endeavors if they are aware of recent happenings. Without active social media channels, startups can fall irrelevant within the outside world. 

Collaboration in Action

Scaling the project is one of the most important steps in the collaboration process. The key to scaling is figuring out the balance between the KPI/deliverables and the pricing. Having direct conversations is essential in establishing a transparent relationship between companies. Startups shouldn’t be afraid to set the KPI, as this shows professionality from the startup. Moreover, collaboration can be scaled quicker if corporates have a proposed KPI to contemplate.

Regardless of how well-planned the collaboration process is, there will always be cultural clashes between corporates and startups. It is important that both sides attempt to understand the perspective of the other. It’s not that either business model is better, it’s that they’re just different. Startups can reduce strife by recognizing the way bureaucracy functions before engaging in corporate business. Corporate collaborations often involve unfortunate realities such as slow payment terms and an abundance of time-consuming meetings. Proactivity is the best way to combat these obstacles, allocating the adequate time and resources to the collaboration process. 


Although collaboration may seem hectic at times, startups can find peace of mind in the inherent benefits of working with corporates. Engaging with corporates allows startups to bring their creativity into the limelight and validate new ideas with actual clients. Indeed, the cultural differences are taxing to deal with times, but these cultural differences are also the reason startups and corporates balance each other so seamlessly. From collecting insights for TUI to inspiring new products with Phillips, it is clear to me that startups and corporates have a lot to offer each other. After all, it isn’t so bad wearing sports coats to meetings every once in awhile...

Secret to Success: Why Silicon Valley is a Startup Epicenter

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of representing Dashmote on a company trip to the Bay Area. The aim of my travel was to further develop our business in the US through meetings with tech partners, talents, and investors. My time in Silicon Valley revealed a lot about the local ecosystem, where innovation is fundamental and ambition is a lifestyle. My goal in this blog post is to uncover what Dutch founders like myself should take away from the Silicon Valley way of life.

Go big or go home. Those are the only options for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Executives are bold and competitive, confidently promoting uncharted concepts. The mentality is that creating a billion dollar market and dominating on a world stage is a hundred times more sexy than owning 5% of an existing market. Since most startup employees have equity stake, the hunger for success is present throughout entire companies. Especially with the growing popularity of RSUs in Silicon Valley, founders aren’t the only ones concerned with performance milestones.

The pomp and circumstance of Silicon Valley is not nearly as prominent in Dutch business practices. That is, my Silicon Valley counterpart would match my rusty bike with a yellow Ferrari. Like many other Dutch people, I was raised to be modest. In the Netherlands, boastfulness is highly frowned upon. The Dutch are quietly competitive, and everyone wants to undercut the Goliath. That being said, Silicon Valley demonstrates that tenacity is essential in company advancement. The lesson to be learned by Dutch executives is that arrogance is a chute, and ambition is a ladder when it comes to startup success.

Although they place a lot of attention on achievement, there is a great deal of interdependence amongst the startups in Silicon Valley. It’s a known fact that 98% of all startups will fail (Dan Feld), so the success of one startup is a pat on the back for the entire community. The “give before asking mentality” has become standard (Donna Weber). That way, failure just means a new position at a friend’s startup.

With startup failure being such a common phenomenon in Silicon Valley, people are fueled by strong coffee and passion. Work takes up the majority of one’s life, so it’s essential that employees be enthusiastic about a startup’s cause. Since the startup setting demands a lot of energy and attention, there is a lot of worker mobility in the community. When employees are snoozing their alarm five times before rolling out of bed, it’s clearly time to move on.

Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystem is extremely unique. Unlike the startup ecosystem in New York, which is focused on fintech and media, the environment in Silicon Valley is extremely dynamic. Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystem is simply the blend of people that are attracted to it during a particular period of time. Permanent residents must bake a lot of welcome-new-neighbor brownies, as the demographics are constantly changing. Locality doesn’t exist in Silicon Valley: The area consists of unpredictable startups, travelling investors, and visiting delegations. Thanks to its fluid nature, the ecosystem in Silicon Valley has almost no barriers, offering a lot of opportunity to startups. Although building deeper relationships can be more challenging, business people are generally more open and accepting in Silicon Valley than other places.

The most notable quality of the Silicon Valley ecosystem is the extreme focus on innovation. Startups in the Bay Area thrive by embracing creativity. Take Uber for example: There was an enormous amount of entrepreneurs trying to develop Uber. The main issue was that nobody could break away from the biased mindset of the current system. However, a solution finally emerged when the company looked beyond current structures. An unlikely model was ultimately the key to Uber’s prominence.


I believe that most successful tech startups practice a methodology similar to that of Uber. They understand that product and customer experience are key, bringing the right use cases (customer problems) to the right people (innovators) with a new mindset. Rather than getting caught up in the novelty of new technology, they create fresh products by implementing existing technologies in inventive ways. By utilizing available technologies such as AI and Blockchain to focus on the end use case, they drive growth through innovation instead of sales strategy.

The consensus is that companies are better equipped than they realize. Many societal problems can be solved with current resources. You can indeed teach an old dog new tricks! (or give an established technology new purpose). The key is in the application: Entrepreneurs need to stretch themselves cognitively, using new technology to supplement brain power rather than relying on it. Once thoughtful application meets advanced technology more consistently, the solution possibilities will be limitless.

Upcoming Trends Every Marketer Should Know For 2017


Let’s face it; artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and visual technology are slowly transitioning into the future of all business and day to day endeavors we take on in our lives. However, AI and AR have been around for much longer than you may be aware of. Self-driving cars and cancer detection through AI and computer vision may seem like the future; but in reality, these are concepts which have been around for years and only advancing each day. Luckily, Dashmote is here to disclose the newest trends you may not be aware of in the AI/AR/Computer Vision and Visual Tech sphere. These are trends that every marketer, tech-feign, business owner, and entrepreneur should know about if they plan on staying up to date and making money in 2017. So read up and let us know your thoughts:

As addressed by Evan Nisselson at the LDV Vision Summit this May in New York City, cameras will eventually be everywhere. What Evan refers to as “The Internet of Eyes” will encompass more than the Internet of Things with a goal of visually communicating and understanding each other better. With 90% of our daily interaction being visual; the reason why it’s only becoming such a mainstream and fundamental element to the business world now is because of real time access, computer vision, AI, machine learning, and cloud infrastructure that allows us to scale as quickly as we want. Things have changed drastically--requiring us to change the way we think drastically.

So what do we mean by visual technology? Don’t be shy to wonder, this is a trending topic in the business, tech, and marketing world but there is not always a concrete explanation behind it. According to Nisselson, visual tech is defined by any technology that captures, analyzes, filters, monetizes, displays visual data. Why is this critical to our lives and how we conduct business? Nisselson gives a practical example of the importance of images and visual concepts. We can look at a couple of pictures, it takes a few minutes. However, computers can look at millions and billions of photos in seconds--combining computing with visual aspects is not only an opportunity for many business, but it revolutionizes all businesses.

1. Augmented Reality via Facebook

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook would adopt its first ubiquitous augmented reality platform during its F8 Conference in California. If you think this is just an attempt of following in Snapchat’s footsteps, you may be a little off in terms of its capabilities. The foundation of the AR camera platforms consists of two apps: AR Studio and Frame Studio. Zuckerberg states that “the first augmented reality platform that becomes mainstream isn’t going to be glasses, it’s going to be cameras.” This theory goes hand in hand with Nisselson’s presentation on “the internet of eyes”. As Evan mentions, the most important feature on a phone today is the camera. The data we capture now and organize and filter, as well as the data of having cameras everywhere will exponentially grow, every inanimate object will have something of a camera, it will take visual data and deliver signals to us for better understanding.

With a similar concept to Snapchat, Facebook takes it a few steps further. The Facebook Camera Feature is part of a Camera Effects platform which intends to be compatible with future augmented reality hardware--i.e. glasses for instance. The tools are designed for artists and developers, and allow for users to instill AR effects through templates and other functions. All users can access Facebook’s Frame Studio to upload any images and then add image filters and overlays that will appear in Facebook Camera to their friends or a Page’s fans. Facebook ensures that the user receives credit for the image as your name appears on the Frame’s preview and News Feed post. Zuckerberg also revealed how information cards will work within Facebook’s AR platform, showing information relevant to a given object or landmark. User’s will be able to save time by knowing which stores have promotions and items of interest on sale prior to even leaving their homes.

Good news for developers--Facebook allows you guys to apply for access to the closed beta of the platform’s AR Studio Tool. Facebook takes recognition software to the next level by allowing developers to use specific location, object recognition, and depth detection in order to most effectively create their effects. Zuckerberg explains that this gives them the ability “to make informational tools like overlaid suggestions from experts on businesses, interactive games and mind-bending art that would be impossible to create in the real world.”

As Nisselson mentioned at the LDV Summit, in order to have VR and AR work, we need content. Content is still king. However, VR and AR content is extremely difficult to create.

Luckily, here are the three categories of AR content we are glad to share with you according to Mark Zuckerberg:

  1. Augmenting objects in the physical world with additional information like putting directions atop the street or a restaurant’s reviews on their storefront
  2. Layering new virtual objects onto reality like a chess board or working television
  3. Enhancing objects that are already there with extra effects, like giving you a glitter beard or adding a castle turret to your apartment building

Zuckerberg explains that the previous computing platforms were entirely digital and accessible to anyone connected to the internet. Thus, the advantage in this is that Facebook doesn’t need to build everything by itself. This developer platform allows for many more consumers, developers, etc to utilize and reappropriate AR in much bigger and more advanced experiences.

2. #SatelliteSelfie

In Nisselson’s “Internet of Eyes” presentation, he expands briefly on what he describes as the “satellite selfie.” He implies that the grieving process will soon commence as we accept the gradual death of the selfie stick. He explains that eventually you will be able to touch a button on your phone and take a satellite image of yourself from above--there will be no need to carry cameras anymore. In fact, DSLR’s trend of megapixels has already made the transition to camera phones as well--3D will be the final nail in the coffin of 99% of DSLR’s. An example of this is the Google phone, which is called Pixel--reiterating this concept. With 12.3 MP, 1.55 μm for capturing shots in any light, and f/2.0 aperture for bright, even photos--essentially this is a DSLR camera. Not to mention the cherry on top, Google made sure users would have unlimited storage for all their photos and videos as well as 7 hours of battery life in 15 minutes of charging. Say goodbye to big, heavy cameras, fancier cameras meaning shorter battery life, and frustration when your memory card is full.

Nisselson touches base on the importance of visuals and photos in general. There is so much data in a photo through it’s different layers, such as; location, colors, destination, where the satellite images are--which, in essence, help us be healthier, make our businesses evolve, and allow us to get closer with customers. Nisselson emphasizes that visual technology is fundamental to computers. “Without any eyes on that computer, he says, a robot doesn’t know what’s out there.” Likewise, he says that a camera without computer visuals, AI, and machine learning has absolutely no value.

Fei-Fei Li, one of the presenters at LDV Summit, and Director of the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab and Chief Scientist AI/ML at Google Cloud states: “The only path to build intelligent machines is to enable it with powerful visual intelligence, just like what animals did in evolution. While many are searching for the ‘killer app’ of vision, I’d say, vision is the ‘killer app’ of AI and computing.”

3. Amazon: Integration of Online/Offline AR

With Amazon arguably being the most powerful retailer online, it’s not entirely shocking that the company recently bought over Whole Foods for over $13 billion. According to Forbes, the grocery business is enormous, about $675 billion per year in the U.S. alone. However, this isn’t the first time that Amazon tries to flourish in the food industry. Amazon has struggled for some time now to scale with brick-and-mortar bookstores and grocery stores. Currently only open to Amazon employees in the Beta program, Amazon has opened a convenience store in one of its many offices in Seattle which does not require cashiers. They claim that their checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by a combination of AI technology, computer vision, sensors, and deep learning that automatically detects when and what products shoppers remove or return to the shelves. The “Just Walk Out Technology” keeps track of what you take in a virtual cart, and when finished, the customer can freely just leave the store without visiting a cashier. Reminiscent of the Uber app, all that is required is an Amazon account, a smartphone, and the Amazon Go app. If this trial run of the automated checkout process becomes successful enough, more than 3.4 million employed cashiers in the United States could face serious unemployment issues, as every other retailer would attempt to integrate it. You can watch the video on Amazon Go here.

However, what can be observed from Amazon is their realization and domination of combining online and real-life retail as one concept, rather than separating as two entities. More retailers need to understand that consumers do not consider the two as separate channels, they reflect one another and must work together in order to help a business thrive to the fullest. With Amazon opening its fifth physical bookstore in Chicago, as well as an additional five upcoming locations--there is no telling where they plan to take the grocery industry as well. They are dominating the retail and online sphere with AI and AR capabilities as well as making the availability of their merchandise almost effortless.

Now, Amazon is integrating visual technology with appliances and furniture. Although this is a not an entirely brand new concept, Amazon’s plan seems to intentionally expand to businesses and opportunities with physical locations--instead of solely relying on its web-based venture for revenue. The popular home improvement store, Lowe’s, has already incorporated a virtual space called Holoroom--which uses an HTC Vive to show customers how to use its products for home improvement projects. They have also recently introduced a new app which uses AR to help customers navigate through their stores.

IKEA also released an AR app about four years ago which allows you to use a tablet or smartphone to virtually overlay or superimpose their furniture into various rooms of your home to get a virtual feel for how it would look prior to purchasing. Amazon, however, would like to take it one small step further. They intend to use AR and VR technology to help consumers make purchase decisions by showing them what products would look like in their homes. The company is exploring the idea of opening stores that sell furniture and home appliances, that serve as showcases where consumers can see the items in person. The significance of their strategy lies in the fact that many consumers are reluctant to purchase things like refrigerators, large cabinets, ovens, etc. over the internet without seeing them first. Amazon attempts to conventionalize this by using forms of AR and VR to allow customers to virtually see how couches, tables, stoves, etc will look in their homes before buying.

Visual technology and visual computing is becoming the number one trend in the market because of society’s constant desire to capture EVERYTHING in their lives and visually share it. From food to outfits, to vacation spots, to tagging who they are with; this desire comes with a purpose of essentially serving to communicate. This visually communication is becoming the primary source of our communication--thus, spreading to much more than business, healthcare, shopping, driving, etc.

As LDV successfully reminded many of us, incorporating and utilizing visual insights and technology isn’t the difficult part; the challenge lays with unraveling and comprehending the valuable insights and signals that photos and visuals provide us by availing the correct AI algorithms. There are constantly new trends emerging that come and go, but visual technology and visual computing will not be budging anytime soon. If anything, this is only the beginning of the future as we know it; implying both--business sectors and the human race.

How AI and Computer Vision Are Reconstructing Business Today

Guess what? Digital images are almost everywhere you look now. New innovations and trends evolve and flourish in the fields of marketing and computer science daily; if not each moment! So why is this important to YOU? One of the less addressed trends and fields are computer vision, machine learning and AI--and how they are DISRUPTING business and society in a pivotal way--considering 90% of the data our brain analyses is visual. So, when over 80 international speakers from companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Flickr, Samsung, Wired and others come together in one place and explore how visual technologies and AI are revolutionizing how humans communicate and do business--it’s a must attend event for any tech guru, marketer, or entrepreneur.

For the fourth year in row, investor, serial entrepreneur, professional photographer and digital media expert, Evan Nisselson, has presented the LDV Vision Summit. The summit is a premier annual visual technology event with the main focus of bringing together top technologists, visionaries, startups, investors, executives, and just human beings in general, who share an interest and/or insight on exploring, understanding and shaping the future of imaging and video in human communication. Dashmote, was of course, amongst the attendees ready to sink into some learning, networking, and even competing. 

Nisselson, claims that one of the main purposes of the summit is to get up-and-coming, as well as newly developed startups the recognition that they desire and thrive for. The LDV Vision Summit featured two competitions; a Startup Competition as well as an Entrepreneurial Computer Vision Challenge. Entering these competitions is not simply a “for fun” concept, entering (and winning) increases your odds of being recruited, raising capital, or selling for over $100M since your work and products become visible to such a large audience of people. If you want specifics, over 500 people from all over the world packed the SVA Theatre in New York City on May 24th and 25th!

So, what is there to be said about the event? In short--computer vision is the trend watch for. Spreading like wildfire to a multitude of industries in the business sector such as medicine, marketing, healthcare, transportation, etc.--computer vision and visual technology is being applied to everything you can land your eyes on, most literally. The LDV Vision Summit allowed for attendees to get a two day submersion into current technologies and applications as well as insight on what can and will be the future of technology.  

The first day focused primarily on computer vision strategy, AI, AR, and basically everything related to visual content from companies such as Google, Pinterest, Facebook and Nvidia. One particular focus was autonomous driving, self driving cars and the future of AI integrated with cameras and visual tech. A presentation by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, CEO of AutoX claimed his aim to disrupt autonomous driving by leveraging cheap cameras, computer vision and AI--rather, that one day we may be utilizing our mobile phones to control and drive our cars. The autonomous driving presentations and discussions were particularly intriguing to the Dashmote team as transportation is the biggest application in computer vision and robotics--it changes everyday life! The self-driving industry was once the initial and sole domain of Google’s research, but now it has flourished and caught the attention of several other large companies.

One key concept that really stuck with you was Evan Nisselson’s speech on How Will Visual Technologies Disrupt & Empower Businesses & Society. In 2003, Evan wrote an article about camera-phones replacing point-shoot cameras. In 2016, Evan predicted that the “Internet of Eyes” will enable inanimate objects to see and recently, Amazon Echo Look validated this thesis. In his speech, he explains that by leveraging computer vision and AI, products and merchandise and stores and many other sectors can be designed to build emotional connections with consumers in a dynamic way. That personalization is what takes it to the next level. In an article written on the release of the Amazon Echo Look, it’s to be expected that with the addition of the camera, Amazon has just added a massive source of data. The camera allows for you to voice-command it and takes selfies of you in your outfits to send the photos to consulting style experts for advice. Amazon can begin to collect data about what it is that a consumer likes to wear and thus informs them of what they need to sell. This hybrid that Amazon has paired voice with vision has the potential to make the system infinitely more powerful by supercharging it with data from a new source, adding even more context. "Leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence a camera will hopefully help proactively shop for me without needing me to physically search online or in stores", says Nisselson. "Ideally, Amazon Alexa would send me an email saying “looks like your favorite red pants are wearing out because you wear them all of the time. We noticed a hole on your back pocket and thought you would like to know that we have two of those pants in the same color and size in stock. Would you like me to order you one or two of them?”

With a large array of more presentations, keynote speakers, and discussions--it’s impossible to summarize all of the techy goodness in one article. The LDV Summit is an event you must attend to fully grasp the concepts, knowledge, connections, and future developments of the visual technology sphere. Computer vision is truly affecting each aspect of our lives and the LDV Summit provided a burst of various knowledge, strategies, future insight, and discussions of the impact on its market sectors. One of the advantages of the summit was the wide range and diversity in attendees. Ranging from engineers, to developers, founders, CEO’s, investors, researchers, journalists, etc. this allowed anyone with a general interest in visual tech to mingle and discuss trends and thoughts with people of various backgrounds--with one common interest. According to Dashmote and many other attendees, the atmosphere on--as well as off the stage, was centered entirely around inspiration, learning, and sharing of knowledge. Being somewhat of a hybrid version of a two day academic seminar/workshop as well as a venture capital roundtable, as Serge Belongie, Professor of Computer Vision at Cornell Tech described it, the LDV Vision Summit is not to be missed next year!

“We are seeing visual technologies, especially combined with AI and machine learning, disrupt a broad array of existing markets and create new ones. From the role they are playing in autonomous vehicles, to transforming marketing technologies, to the roles they are playing in physical and cyber security - and of course the role they are playing around consumer electronics and robotics. It is comforting to know everyone is just as excited as I am about computer vision and AI, and to see how big the opportunity is and how early in the cycle we are as well.” -Rudina Seseri, Founder & Managing Partner of Glasswing Ventures

Entrepreneurship & Innovation in The Chinese Sphere

Chinese Startups and Entrepreneurship

The changes in the Chinese entrepreneurial scene throughout the years are inevitable. In 2005, one could essentially count the number of venture capitals in China on two hands, according to an article in The Asian Entrepreneur. However; now, venture capital investments in China hit an all-time high last year despite a global slowdown--with over US$31 billion pouring in. I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of this incubator and VC wave firsthand during my recent trip to Chengdu for the Global Business Incubation Summit to represent Dashmote. This makes one wonder--why the sudden wave of entrepreneurship in the Chinese sector and how exactly does entrepreneurship in China differ from the norm?

According to the South China Morning Post, owned by Alibaba, “China’s strong venture capital investment performance last year was driven by several mega-deals, such as Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial’s US$4.5 billion round in April, hailed as the world’s largest private technology funding round.” Chinese venture capital investment is nowhere near slowing down. On the contrary, it’s expected to continue according to KPMG, as companies look to acquire technologies for their home market.

According to a recent Fortune article, China's government-backed venture capital funds are enormous—reaching almost 10 times the amount spent by venture capital firms on Chinese startups in 2015: $32.2 billion. With this being said, although China is rapidly advancing--if not surpassing Western standards of the business and tech sector; there is a very distinct difference in HOW this business is conducted.

Differences of Chinese Entrepreneurship vs Western Entrepreneurship

Chinese entrepreneurship differs from the Western sphere starting with its emergence. Venture capitalists sprouted up during the 1970s in the US as opposed to the 1990s in China. Since entrepreneurship has such a substantial history and presence amongst the US--naturally a wide network of financiers, incubators, and business/government organizations are also prevalent. China, however, lacks this network of support--as well as inspiration from success stories such as Google and Apple.

The differences are mainly all between the ecosystems and cultural norms. As an American, developing a bold and different idea and making it big is considered a “wow” factor and inspirational and admired. As a Chinese entrepreneur, the mindset is not entirely coherent to this concept. It’s thought of as a ‘herd mentality’. You should not want to stick out from the norm, you should only follow what is expected and very subtly progress or achieve better results. There is actually an old Chinese proverb which represents this business mentality, 枪打出头鸟, which translated means, “The shot hits the bird that pokes its head out.” This can be interpreted as “nonconformity/show offs gets punished”.

Because of this cultural and business loyalty, China’s well known concept of censorship also comes into play. Although social media is not entirely banned and prohibited, restrictions are placed on foreign websites and social media to result in flourishing a home-grown, state-approved ecosystem in which Chinese-owned properties thrive. Yes, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are blocked in China, but their Chinese equivalents are expanding and usage of Chinese social media is considered some of the most intense in the world.

With this censorship and loyalty to local home-grown social media, comes WeChat. According to China Internet Watch’s 2017 statistics, More than 95% of Internet users in China access the Internet via mobile devices, and of those mobile users, about 80% use WeChat. In case you aren’t familiar with this all-in-one app, WeChat is a social media app developed by Tencent (a Chinese investment holding company and one of the largest internet companies in the world) with over 889 million active users spending 66 minutes a day on the app on average. WeChat is not solely a messaging app, it’s a lifestyle in the Chinese business sector and daily life. WeChat builds a unique social community amongst users and between users and vendors/organizations. This app is enabled on mobile phones, and more than 300,000 retail stores have integrated WeChat Payment into their point-of-sale systems, allowing for easy payment almost everywhere--including taxis, supermarkets and hospitals. WeChat allows for Chinese consumers to easily partake in more business opportunities by connecting overseas vendors and allowing them to pay for their transactions.

 What’s next

So what’s to be expected with the massive boom and changes in funding, partnerships, and innovation within China? Going global, of course. China and the Western sphere, especially America, must look to one another for combined strengths to achieve market expansion. China is already on its way to becoming internationally successful--as seen with Huawei, whose Android smartphones are now the second most popular smartphone brand in Europe and Kuaiya, an InnoSpring portfolio company, which already has 300 million users spanning Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America--the number of users being almost as much as the number of US citizens. The goal is to combine both interpretations of doing business and leveraging the advantages of both ecosystems for the ultimate internationalization and collaboration--which provides the strongest form of success.

Attending the Global Business Incubation Summit was tremendously rewarding and informative and it was a great honour to represent Dashmote there. I’m eager to initiate a deal coinciding with the Chinese entrepreneurial sphere and very enthusiastic about China’s plans for attracting global capital, business and innovation products, and building an international entrepreneurial ecology.

Chengdu Welcomes Tech, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship With Open Arms


 China has always been deemed one of the most powerful and central countries in terms of production and trade. However, as of two to three years ago--the startup and entrepreneurial scene has stepped foot into China and appears to be blossoming into a whole different sphere of business, in comparison to Western structure. So why the sudden change? Economic growth, inspiring and powerful new Chinese companies, and boosts from the Chinese government might be a start.

Vastly evolving specifically in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province--Chengdu, is considered “the beginning city” of the southern silk road which connects Europe to Asia, and it’s reputation within China remains as “the city of innovation.” So, when Dashmote was invited to the Global Business Incubation Summit & the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair held in Chengdu last week, it was a great honour to be surrounded by so many industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, and business executives.

Dennis Tan, our CEO, as well as myself had the privilege of presenting solutions offered by Dashmote and it’s view on entrepreneurship and it’s various ecosystems. I want to overview the event in this article and explain some noticeable differences in the Chinese entrepreneurial sphere.

The Global Business Incubation Summit was offered by SBC, Startupbootcamp-- “a global family of industry-focused accelerators.” With a global entrepreneurial team of over 40 people from around 10 different countries, 200+ professional guests in the industry, and an overall audience of over 700 professional attendees; the theme presented was “global change in the business incubator”.

SBC founder Carsten Kølbek delivered a keynote speech: "The focus of business incubation will no longer be the incubator and the creation of space, but the accelerator. Accelerator focus on the entrepreneurial team deeper and more rigorous training and optimization to help enterprises faster and more stable growth and development" - Carsten Kølbek

With Great Keynote speakers as: Liu Qingfeng, Founder of iFlyTek, Stas Gayshan, Managing Director at Cambridge Innovation Center and Wang Gang, Minister of Science and Technology and many others; the various parties in the ecosystem exchanged ideas on how innovation and entrepreneurship resources can be best matched at home and abroad. Dashmote--as well as HiHedge, Boundlss, Spendolater and Otonomos presented the latest projects to the guests, to showcase the SBC accelerated results.

Technology and concepts of A.I. and robotics are becoming increasingly more valuable and dominant in the Chinese mobile and media ecosystem. In fact, China is the strongest A.I. country in the world. One of the speeches from the summit, given by IflyTek explained that there are three stages of A.I. and as of 2016, we are currently between stages two and three. These include: machine learning, machine intelligence and machine consciousness. Iflytek uses reinforcement learning  through voice recognition software which transforms words into voice. Although voice recognition as a concept has been around for some time now, it has now advanced to a level of sentence interpretation--rather than word by word. The future of Voice Recognition is to talk with emotions, and interchangeable tones, imitating the different styles of translation. This innovation can make sure that there is no need for translation and allows for utilisation both in cars and at home. AI is slowly spreading throughout our entire society and can influence and be integrated into every sector through three requisites: core technology, big data, and industry experts (fusion).

In fact, new and small businesses and startups are extremely significant not only in the Chinese sector; but also globally. Startups account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation within the United States. Companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades. These entrepreneurial endeavors and startups are also supported amongst China--however, only when conducted with a clear vision and expertise.

Qianwen (Queena) Ai, a Marketing Specialist at CUBIC Inc. said at the summit: “Entrepreneurship is supported all over China by all parties. The issue I find is that young entrepreneurs are starting a business without really thinking about what it means and why you should do it. They are pushed by the trend and hype. Many graduates don’t want to apply for regular jobs but actually have no clue what or how they plan to start a business.” It was quite enlightening to hear the thoughts and various knowledge of the different businesses, speakers and industry experts in regards to changes in the field, the future of innovation, and Chinese mentality in terms of entrepreneurship.

Attending the Global Business Incubation Summit was tremendously rewarding and informative and it was a great honour to represent Dashmote there. I’m eager to initiate a deal coinciding with the Chinese entrepreneurial sphere and very enthusiastic about China’s plans for attracting global capital and future of  business and innovation products, and building an international entrepreneurial ecology.

NYC: Big Buildings, Big Dreams, & Entrepreneurial Vibes

 While reading a recent article in The Atlantic New York is said to have transitioned from a place that  had virtually no high-tech startups to one that hosts a sector attracting more than $3 billion per year!

So, when and why exactly, did the startup world decide to book their flights from Silicon Valley to New York? There is a quote that goes, “something’s always happening here. If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault.” As I learned first handedly on my trip; the implication of The Big Apple being a lively, innovative, and extraordinarily unique city of its kind has been around for far longer than its recent explosive growth of startup sectors. With other huge and competitive cities with foundations for startups like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and Miami; it’s not too surprising that NYC landed the 6th spot for Forbes’ Top 25 Hottest Cities for Startups. With venture capital funding for tech companies exploding by 240 percent over a 10 year period and the city of dreams becoming the new hot hub for startups--it’s clear why Dashmote’s growth market includes and focuses on New York. From connecting and networking with people of various backgrounds, to closing our first deals--it’s truly difficult to say that this city hasn’t captured my heart on a business and personal level. There are three specific elements I’ve noticed, that make NYC stand out as a startup hub and entrepreneurial haven.

The Velocity & The Speed

     New York’s notoriously fast paced, “city that never sleeps”  lifestyle is synonymous with the the fast thinking and movement required when first building a startup. Even when coming from a busy and constantly moving city like Amsterdam--I found it much easier to meet people and schedule meetings in NYC. I was able to schedule 50 meetings in one week while in New York, while the same number would typically require two weeks in Europe or Asia!  People were also much more inclined to not just hear, but actually listen to your story, your ideas, and offer their own advice or input. Noticeably, this mentality of mentoring was much more prevalent in NYC, than in regards to the European startup sphere. However, this also means that your competitor may have the same advantage. By perfectly suiting the startup criteria of “fall fast and move fast”, The Big Apple has transitioned from epicenter of financial disaster to the focal point and home of various startup successes such as Foursquare, Etsy, and Tumblr.

Corporate Startup Engagement

      Along with my own experience with Dashmote, corporate startup engagement is undeniably critical. This is relevant for most startups with the intention of scaling. Since people are more receptive and open to listening to your story and ideas, the question of how easily you can sell your product to a client becomes more defined. When talking A.I. or other technology, explaining your business as the “Uber for X, or Skyscanner for Y”; people are able to comprehend and relate to your product relatively quicker in NYC--which also allows them to shoot it down faster, as well.

Big corporations see many startups as an opportunity to partner, find new innovative ideas, invest or even listen to potentially successful and/or experienced entrepreneurs. As David Kidder, CEO of Bionic, says: it’s either disrupt or be disrupted. This is in regards to corporations needing organic growth--therefore they engage with the startups more in order to potentially make their companies profit on more innovative and creative products. The significance of the engagement being more prevalent, is that both, large corporations and startups would benefit from the friendship. They each bring two distinct and integral skills needed to the business sector. Startups are excellent at producing and detecting the latest and most innovative products, sparking the innovation. While larger companies lack that innovation--yet, are successful at scaling proof of concepts. This engagement and teamwork from both ends deliver a much higher success rate--thus, startups wanting to be based in an environment with these advantages.

The Dharma & The Energy

  “San Francisco is a boring fucking city. In New York, you don’t have to entertain people because the city entertains people," eloquently put by Mario Schlosser, CEO of Oscar--a healthcare startup in SoHo valued at nearly $3 billion. It’s truly difficult to compare any other city to New York. With our own Dashmote office located near the very center of one the most architecturally beautiful and romanticized cities in Europe--it’s still impossible to compare the level of glamour to that of NYC. It was, in fact, the gateway to the United States, and its popular cultural hub remains part of the “American dream”. The energy within the city vibrates with lights, traffic, millions of people, ambition, movement, culture, innovation, and drive. People are excited about what they do, they aren’t shy about loving their city, and don’t remain quiet about their ambition. With the buzzing enthusiasm, you immediately feel an inclination to be just as passionate and extroverted as them. As the famous saying goes: “surround yourself with people who have dreams, desire, and ambition; they’ll help you push for, and realize your own.” The dharma in The Big Apple uplifts you to have a greater purpose in life, encourages you to announce it and take pride in your idea, and allows people to call you on it--this innovative culture and drive only contribute greater to this buzzing city’s startup centered success.

In regards to New York City: “No one lives here because they live here: Everyone lives here because they want to be here.”

Brothers by chance, co-founders by choice

How co-founding a startup with your sibling can turn out to be either the best, or worst, decision you ever make.

Since starting Dashmote with my brother Dennis in 2015, one of the most common confusions we face every so often happens when meeting new people. If we meet new people at networking events, startup conventions, or other business related functions, people are often confused by the fact that we look so similar, have the same last name, and are both founders of Dashmote - often ending up in the assumption that we are the same person. Though this can be a funny way to break the ice and to introduce ourselves in a more interesting way, it’s just one of the many side effects that we didn’t think of when embarking on the adventure that is Dashmote 2 years ago.

Working alongside any sibling, in any way, can more quickly lead to arguments and scuffles, or belly laughs and hugs than with a non-relative - which is why embarking on a business venture with them can turn out to be a horrible or fantastic idea, depending on your relationship. However, with success stories of Rocket Internet (founded by Alexander, Olivier, and Marc Samwer), Stripe (founded by Patrick and John Collison), and many more, we see that a sibling duo can turn out to be one of the secrets to success in launching your startup.

Once you decide however, or perhaps give in, to the idea that your sibling will be your fellow co-founder, you will be immediately faced with unique challenges as well as benefits that come up in day to day startup related activities that stem from the deepness of the relationship and lack of barriers that come with growing up together.

You know each other's’ strengths and weaknesses.

Having grown up together, Dennis and I know each other better than we know ourselves sometimes. Dennis understands that I have strengths related to finance and business development relationships, and I understand that when it comes to making executive decisions for the good of the company, leading people, and keeping up moral, Dennis shines through. Using this knowledge of one another, we can easily divide day to day tasks, and ask each other for help quickly because of our deeper understanding. Not only hard skills, but also soft skills such as people skills and stories from experiences are much more accessible and we can apply each other's skills as if they are our own to different situations.

Arguments on a whole other level, but can always be solved

Growing up, sibling rivalry could get fierce at times - especially when it came to playing games against each other. We didn’t know it then, but this experience turned out to be an early test drive period for us in finding out how we could manage our arguments as best as possible but still work together and solve the issue at the end of the day. Which is why we still have arguments that are reminiscent of our youth, but we are always able to put our differences aside and move on quickly to the solution since we can express ourselves fully without the barrier which is usually between two unrelated individuals.

Celebrating the milestones together

Normally after you have completed a sale, or won an award, you can’t wait to share the experience with your friends and family - even if they may not completely understand the struggle and the meaning this has for you and your company. Because I work daily alongside my brother, however, every small milestone and victory is thoroughly celebrated and appreciated by each other in a special way - because they were right alongside of you. I remember one particular event where I won my first pitch competition on behalf of Dashmote. This was the first victory I felt I could share on a level with my team but also with my brother - who saw the struggle and growth, and encouraged me along the way.

Mixing family life and business life

Having a sibling who works alongside of you in your company provides an outlet for you 24/7 to talk about virtually any aspect of your life. This is definitely a positive aspect, and a bit of a luxury; as you can always discuss with them what is going on in your head regarding business out of the office, and what is going on in your life inside the office. Two brains are better than one and being able to brainstorm your ideas with that person at any point possible leads to better ideas generated and more communication.

Also as another positive - it’s easier to explain to family what is going on with the company, since only one of your has to do the talking on behalf of both of you. This comes quite in handy at the family dinners with the always fun “how's everything going?” question.

You’ve always got eachothers’ backs - that sibling bond

I remember always having a sense that my brother’s always got my back, and my best interest at heart - never had to worry about an hidden agenda. When someone puts you down, or picks on you, you know your sibling will say “Hey- no one can do that to my brother except me!”

During our time at Startup Bootcamp (Accelerator program), I started training my pitch and received the feedback that I was terrible, and it wasn’t really possible to get any better than what I was able to do. When my brother heard that he dedicated time and patience to helping me train so that I could prove them all wrong. In the end, because of his help and my motivation, I was able to deliver one of the best pitches in front of 500 people during Demo Day - a milestone I definitely wouldn’t have been able to reach without his ongoing support.

Here are some final tips I have for you, in making your startup work with a sibling as your co-founder:

  • Only consider it if you have already have a healthy connection with each other - this means arguments and fights may occur - but you know how to get past them
  • Develop a systematic process to avoid conflict - like carving out separate areas where each sibling is in charge
  • Always include non-family members with special expertise in top-level decision making - we at Dashmote have a great third co-founder, Matthaeus Shreder, who is always able to balance our decision making
  • Always keep in mind that at the end of the day there is no one that can replace your sibling, so respect each other and know that no argument is stronger than your bond

I decided to write this blogpost in order to share my personal experience of how I continue to manage working successfully alongside my brother, and ceo & co-founder, Dennis at our startup Dashmote, and to share with you the good the bad and the ugly that comes with this. I hope that with this post it will help you in making the decision to see if it’s right for you - to enlist the help of your sibling in your new venture.

We just got (Product) Hunted. Now what?

The power of product hunt for any startup and our experience with it.

Greetings from Dashmote! We are a Dutch startup in Amsterdam aiming to change the way you search for high-quality visual content. Today is a big day here in the Dashmote office because we have just been posted on Product Hunt!  

For those of you who are already familiar with Product Hunt, you may be curious as to how you can use this platform to greatly expand your markets and bring awareness to your product. For those of you who are not yet familiar, you may be wondering...

What is Product Hunt?

Product Hunt is an online community built with the idea to empower early adopters to discover and share new products. Product Hunters can submit a product, but the community decides together whether the product is good by giving upvotes. The top product will get more attention by the newsletter and subscribers. This platform allows many startups to gain a growth spurt in an early stage.


How a startup can use Product Hunt!

If the product grabs attention on product hunt it can get between 5k to 250k new users. In early stage startups, this can mean two months of marketing efforts in just 24 hours! Easily put: successful Product Hunts can grow your business while saving your company loads of time and money. It can also grab the attention of the press. However, not all products on PH are successful. Only the top ten products each day are featured in the weekly newsletters and other media outreach efforts. So, how can you make it in the top ten?  Besides gaining the most upvotes and comments, here are some other ways you can help boost your rank.

Three best practices:

  1. Don’t request upvotes
  2. Establish a PH community prior to launch
  3. Focus on your tagline, image & offer

Product Hunt is a smart system. By that, I mean they have ways of knowing whether or not your votes and comments are organic or if they are coming from a mass marketing effort to newly established Product Hunters. The reason for this is the Product Hunt wants to encourage genuine feedback and community participation.  For this reason, you should avoid sharing the direct link to your PH product page. Instead, share the general link and suggest that people search for your company or “checkout” your page. Do not request upvotes. This will also trigger negative feedback in the PH algorithm.

Another way to address this issue is to establish a network of Product Hunt users prior to launching your product on the platform. This will guarantee you high-quality upvotes that will boost your rank much faster than ‘newbies’.

Lastly, do not underestimate the power of your product page. Because many people on PH have likely never seen your product, this will be their first impression. And because you are trying to win their votes, you want to make it a good one! wrote a blogpost about how they managed to get ranked #1 and gain 1,200 upvotes on Product Hunt, and one of the main reasonings outlined in the post is the product’s tagline. They argue that having the word “free” in their tagline helped bring in a great deal of votes. Capture the attention of hunters by pairing an eye-catching tagline with an intriguing image and last but not least, an exclusive offer for voters.


Product Hunt for Product Launch

Dashmote was planning to use Product Hunt to launch our product. By launching the product yourself, you have more control over marketing efforts because you can launch it when the product is fine-tuned and you are prepared with a plan. However, with product hunt sometimes you are not in control when it is posted.  You can be hunted at any given time! In our case, it was unexpected.  Today we were hunted by Chris Messina who is Developer Experience Lead at Uber.

Now our journey is to keep the ball rolling and gain as much awareness as we can!  We are grateful for the feature, as this is a great source of feedback for us. So, if you are not a current Hunter, you should join now!  And when you do, check out our page and support us on our hunt.

What I learned from attending 5 startup events in less than 1 month

Key takeaways from a Dashmote Co-Founder

“We are here to grow ourselves by surrounding us by people we can learn from” — Dennis z.s. Tan, Dashmote CEO on Startupbootcamp Smart City | Tweet this!

When many people think of the term ‘entrepreneur,’ they think of an individual who is going against the grain to launch a product or a service that he or she believes will have some sort of impact. However, one of the greatest things about being an entrepreneur is that although you may be one individual (or part of a small team), you are also part of a diverse community of like-minded, intellectual people who are hungry for innovation and collaboration and eager to share with you their wide array of expertise. As a Startup Founder, I have the privilege of attending many interesting events and learning from this community of influential individuals. In this post, I want to share all the learning I took from the last 5 events I participated in.

Event #1: Startup Friday

“As corporate, first be agile then do Growth Hacking” — Peter Sabben, Co-Founder @ Growth Tribe | Tweet this!

Almost any startup today will tell you they are implementing some type of growth hacking into their marketing strategy. These methods are becoming almost necessary if you want to grow your business at a pace that will allow you to keep up with your competitors. However, many people will forget to tell you to first establish a foundation in your market. Know your target audience and where they are located. That way, you know where and when to hack. This will allow for optimal impact.

Event #2: Amsterdam Student Entrepreneur Award

“A best practice is to start with a vertical niche & dominate it” — Ruben Nieuwenhuis, Director @ Startup Amsterdam | Tweet this!

Define your target market, go after that market, & dominate that market. Truth is: there IS a possibility of too much marketing. I think many founders share in common the regrettable mistake of trying to tackle too many markets too early in the game. It’s essential to hone in on a select few to start in order to establish a foundation that you can truly build upon. This is also how I managed to win the event and become Amsterdam Student Entrepreneur of the year (hurray!), by focusing on my audience and not wasting resources on trying to reach people that were not there.

Event #3: Week van de Ondernemer

“Don’t put your product in the centre, but focus on the customer experience of the product” — Damir Grcic, Marketing Manager @ PostNL | Tweet this!

Last week I attended the Week van de Ondernemer in the Beatrix Theater Utrecht, where the newest and most innovative entrepreneurs joined together to discuss how to build a better business. This year, I had to opportunity to partner with PostNL and host workshops which discussed the power of visual marketing. During the event, Damir Grcic of PostNL emphasized the importance of focusing on the customer experience of your product. It is not enough to simply focus on the product with no regard to your clients feedback and interaction. After all, your business is about the client, not the product. We are all trying to build solutions. Our missions, whether they be convenience, sustainability, affordability, efficiency, or so on, all have one thing in common: They are not products. AirBnb’s mission is not to create the best accommodation (in fact, they own zero percent of their housing stock), but to make the accommodation-booking process and convenient, affordable and profitable process for the clients involved. Similarly, Dashmote’s mission is not only to create the best stock photos, but also to provide the most extensive collection of high quality images at little to no charge for the client, ultimately allowing customers to save both time and money. So, you can focus on the true heart of your business (because we know not everyone’s passion is in stock imaging..).

Event #4: NK Pitchen

“A pitch is not a monologue but a start of dialogue. Know your audience and tailor your presentation towards this audience to get this engagement” — Nathalie Mangelaars, Founder @ Pitch Queen | Tweet this!

This quote was a great piece of advice from Nathalie Mangelaar, the Founder of Pitch Queen. After pitching at what seems like countless events, I have really come to understand the importance of knowing your audience. In the world of pitching, your audience should be treated as your client. Not every client wants the same thing, and not every audience wants the same thing. Remember to think about the ‘who’s and ‘what’s of each context. Who is attending this event? And what can I offer them that would be of specific interest to them?

Event #5: CeBIT

“I believe the most disruptive, transformative trend is now in front of us, and its cognitive. This ability to think, to learn, to understand. The system, the products the processes, everything you do. And it is the dawn of a new era: The cognitive era.” — Ginni Rometty, CEO @ IBM | Tweet this!

CeBIT is the world’s largest tech event. In their terms, it is a global event for digital business. It brings together the biggest names in tech & communications. I had the opportunity to attend this years event and was blown away by the recent advancement in IT. This year, IBM focused its theme around ‘the cognitive era’ — meaning, this is the time where passionate people all across tech, business, and entrepreneurship are joining together to break down the barriers of human (and in IBM’s case, robot) thoughts. As Ginni Rometty and IBM have pointed out, now is essentially the greatest time for innovation. We are using this information to create and build products and services that are greater than ever before. Now is truly an exhilarating time to be an entrepreneur.

For more details on IBM’s cognitive era, checkout the Dashmote blog:

Dashmote’s ambition is to give everyone instant access to all visual content, try out Dashmote here.

Edited by Jamie Guthrie