Life after Startup – How Superconnectors became my next project

A few articles ago I hinted at the fact I have been working on a concrete new project.

Today that veil is finally lifted: since the 15th of July I started as program Director of a new exciting event that we aim to turn into a global franchise called Superconnectors.

Ok ok, I get it, maybe I’m going too fast.. let’s rewind a bit to where this story began:

Last minute Superconnector

It’s the 27th of May and I am about to call it a day when Jan Hein, one of the Partners at Varias jumps into my office. Varias is a software development company, but also my neighbor in my co-working space.

“Hey man! Do you have a minute?” He asks.

“Eh.. sure” I say with my backpack half on my shoulder.

He goes on to say: “Next week we are organizing Superconnectors for the second year as part of the Upstream festival (a big business event in Rotterdam). Superconnectors is an event where 10 startups pitch to 20 people with awesome networks.

The only catch is that the winner of the event is not the best startup, but actually the superconnector that manages to help a startup solve a problem through the best possible connection. Wanna be one of the Superconnectors?”

“I’m in, 100%” I say.

I think: “What a fantastic way to give back and to place the power with the startup. I have seen plenty of startup competitions where the goal often seemed to be grilling the startup “dragons den style”.

“Finally an event that focuses on actually helping struggling entrepreneurs achieve awesome stuff, through the simple act of putting them in touch with a great connection via a message or a phone call.”

Brainstorming on a common question

After witnessing the potential and electrifying energy of this event first hand as last minute Superconnector, a lot of things I care about suddenly made sense: helping startups, helping them maintain equity and power, and all in a fun way.

Jan Hein, Stein (one of the other partners at Varias) and me kept brainstorming on how we could help startups achieve so much more without expecting anything in return.

At first we thought about an accelerator that we could build and building a community together in our co-working space.

Week in, week out we would brainstorm again. Not because we had to, but because it simply gave us energy to reimagine an industry.

Letting it simmer

Then, for a few weeks, we all went our separate ways.

The 12th of July Jan Hein, walks into my office again, this time with a clear proposal:

“For the past 2 years Superconnectors has been a great event and we have done a great job organizing it next to our day to day software business.

Now however we want to grow this event separately from our business, would you like to help us spin this off into a business?”

I didn’t really have to think for very long. I loved the concept, and after a few meetings with their team I was on board.

Full focus

For someone that loves to be laser focused, it has been quitte hard for me to not have a clear objective for the past 6 months. Letting go of one thing and diving into the unknown is scary.

It means re-evaluating my strengths, accepting that for a while my identity needs to be reassessed and that I need to humbly rebuild something from the ground up.

One thing that I never lost faith in however has been to always keep a conversation going. To keep talking to exciting people, to myself (through these blogs) and to likeminded entrepreneurs.

Maybe that’s why I don’t really like it when people say things just “fall into place”.

I have never really seen people stand around and having amazing opportunities falling into their laps.

Of course many factors contribute to an entrepreneur finding purpose, a direction, or something pushing them forward. Luck certainly plays a role and so do their upbringing and the environment they grew up in .

However pushing yourself outside a perfectly comfortable position is a start, and without that start you likely won’t make the mistakes that set the foundation for the pieces to “fall into”.

That’s why I prefer saying “making the pieces fall into place”, because without initiative, nothing will be falling anywhere.

Is Life after Startup over?

So does this mean the life after startup is over? Alex is all done now and mister awesome can give himself a high 5?

Of course not. Many more stories of failure and succes will follow.

The story of how I actually go about using what I have learned from my previous startup life into a new real business is just about to begin.

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