We could go on and on about how participating in Startup Weekend Groningen is the experience of a lifetime. And if you think that’s quite the bold statement; after eleven editions we have a long list of amazing stories that were woven during one of the startup events in Groningen. Stories of people who developed their ideas, who made lifelong friends and started their own companies. This is the story of Dennis (27) and Mark (23), who started their enterprise Printmijnstad.nl after Startup Weekend Groningen 2016.
Hi guys, let’s start at the beginning: how did you meet?
“Hi! We met during the 2016 Startup Weekend Groningen event. Dennis pitched one of his ideas and I liked it so I joined his group”, says Mark. “We wanted to develop a website that would help you create wishlists by finding gifts based on your interests. By swiping through the suggested gifts you would train the algorithm to give better suggestions. We called it Swippy. After the Startup
How did you hear about Startup Weekend Groningen? And were there any doubts about participating?
“I was told about Startup Weekend during my minor entrepreneurship”, explains Mark. “Colleagues from the company where I did my internship were very enthusiastic about the 2015 Startup Weekend”, adds Dennis. “We didn’t really have doubts, but we were a bit tense because we didn’t know what we could expect. Participating was our first small step into the big world of entrepreneurship, that made it a lot more exciting.”
What made you decide to participate?
Mark: “The curiosity was larger than the drawbacks. And when I talk about the drawbacks, I mean that it is a bit of an investment for students and that I would have to speak English during the whole weekend – a language I am not very well versed in.”
Dennis: “The fact that my fellow interns were so enthusiastic was enough for me to want to have a look!”
When did you find out that you made good business partners? And what makes that so?
Dennis: “Our collaboration works well, because we are two different guys when it comes to our skill sets and our characters. This leads to good, positive discussions that keep us sharp. And of course there is the personal click we have.” Mark nods: “Dennis was even the best man at my wedding.”
How did you develop the idea for Printmijnstad.nl?
“The two of us went looking for a new project, so we could keep working together. I proposed making an online tool to create maps, so that I could get a map of my favorite city printed on the cheap”, explains Dennis. “Mark said that it would be a good idea to sell these to other people. That’s when we decided to turn it into a company.” Mark continues: “The first version of Printmijnstad.nl was ready in May 2017. The day we launched we made our first sale: an A0 poster to someone we didn’t know. Later that month we sold a couple different posters and the MVP (minimum viable product) was approved.”
Aren’t there enough similar ideas on the market?
Dennis: “Yes, we have competitors that do the same, but
What is the best story or memory of Startup Weekend Groningen?
“The best memory is the vibe during the entire weekend; it was just super chill. I have participated three times now”, says Dennis. Mark participated twice in Startup Weekend. “It’s different every time and you always meet new people. So we can tell you about our best memories, but if we can give some actual advice: it’s better to go and experience the whole thing for yourself.”
What have you gained from participating in Startup Weekend Groningen? Does it still play a part in your business?
Dennis & Mark: “Startup Weekend Groningen gave us a good collaboration and a great friendship. That we are working on Printmijnstad.nl for almost two-and-a-half years now is a nice added benefit. Without Startup Weekend there would be no Printmijnstad.nl or Printmycity.com.
What are your biggest future challenges?
“We both stopped working at this point”, says Dennis, “that’s why the biggest challenge is to develop all aspects of Printmijnstad.nl. In addition to that we want to start a new project.” “This is a project (Routfit) with which we hope to make the fashion industry less wasteful”, says Mark. “The industry pollutes a lot and many clothes are never sold, but are burned instead. If you ask us what really makes us tick, then we would say it is to change the world for the better – to have a positive impact in some way.”
What are your biggest insecurities when it comes to entrepreneurship and how do you deal with them?
Dennis & Mark: “Well the biggest insecurity we felt was when we took the risk to quit our jobs and to fully delve into doing what we liked the most. Now that we’ve taken the leap, we are very happy with it. The better your company is doing, the less insecurity you experience, of course – the hardest part is taking the leap off the deep end. We can make a living off our business now, but it has been a lot of hard work to get there.”
Anything you would like to say to those that are on the fence of participating in Startup Weekend Groningen?
Dennis & Mark: “Don’t doubt for a second, just go. You always leave with something valuable after a startup weekend event: a good idea, a new friendship or a great experience.”