Stop learning from stories about startup-unicorns. Here’s why.

Exploring a new format. This time I’m cohosting the podcast with Nav Nouhi. Which means you will hear me talking much more.

Nav, a dear friend of mine. He is currently a digital marketing adviser for early to mid stage startups. and he is joining me from the beautiful city of Prague.

He has been working in digital marketing since growth hacking was a trend and Overture ruled all search engines.

Previously, he lead global digital advertising for AVG Technologies which was acquired for $1.6B in 2016.

When he’s not optimizing conversion funnels or creating digital acquisition strategies, you can find him skiing or cooking somewhere in Europe.

As always, I am curious about your opinion on the podcast. So please head to itunes or whereever  you might listen the show and give let us know what you think.

I hope you guys enjoy the show and talk to you soon.

[Video] 7 Principles of Growth by Hoang Pham, Head of Growth @ Mollie

Two weeks ago I head the pleasure to have Hoang Pham, Head of Growth as a guest speaker at my StartupMaze Amsterdam meetup.

Hoang talked about the 7 Principles of Growth that help him structure and optimize the growth marketing backlog.

As an experiment, I used my gopro camera to record the video and recorded the sound on two other devices (which proved to be a great idea, becasue one of them stopped working) – then stitched it together.

Turns out the resulting video is better than I expected it. Thus, I think it makes sense to share it with everybody who missed Hoang’s talk.

For marketing growth news remember to subscribe to my newsletter (sidebar) and to get notified about new meetups join the StartupMaze Amsterdam meetup group.


How do you get the media to write about your startup?

You can listen this podcast on your phone via Apple PodcastsOvercast or Pocket Cast. Remember to subscribe if you like it. 

Great question. To answer that I had a chat with Max Tatton Brown, founder and managing director at Augur Communications.

Augur is London-based communications agency which helps fast-growing “unsexy” tech companies tackle business challenges with communications strategy.

Before Augur, Max led PR for Tradeshift from Series A to Series C and has written for Wired, the Guardian and Quartz.

In this podcast you will find out:
• When is the right time to start building your media relationship
• How you should go about creating and maintaining those relationship
• The importance of focusing on your product before doing any PR
• How PR can only amplify what’s already valuable

[Video] How to improve your voice. Gain confidence. Nail public speaking.

Voice, that thing that comes out of your mouth. You know the one you feel awkward about when you hear yourself. It can be improved.

Linor Oren is here to tell us what good voice is and give us some tips on how improve your voice.

Linor is a voice coach with over 10 years of experience in opera singing and voice training. Through her sessions she helps people get in control of how they sound, gain confidence and get the right skills to own the room with their voice – which sound like things entrepreneurs would need to ace their public speaking events, startup pitches and even internal presentations. With that in mind I invited for a chat and thought I should record it and share it with you guys.


  • Drink water at least 3 hours before speaking. And a general rule you sound better if you vocal chords are hydrated.
  • Wrong posture can put pressure on your throat and makes you sound bad. Who knew?? Stay straight but relaxed. Search for Alexander technique. Linor swears by it.
  • Think of your voice like an instrument. Takes a bit of time to know how to play it and you can’t improve overnight. Takes a bit of Practice.

A bit about our guest.

Linor got her Bachelor of Arts in Voice and Opera from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. In  2010 she moved to Berlin where she performed as an opera and musical singer and performed on stages around the world. On the side she gave private lessons to people who were looking to improve their voice. Now she moved to Amsterdam where she primary focuses  on voice coaching.

You can find more about Linor on and on her youtube channel.

3 things a growth hacker needs to achieve exponential growth

A few days ago the founder of an early stage startup asked me if they should hire a “How do they call it, I’ve heard this term of growth hacker…”.

I told him that I think it’s too early for a growth hacker and that first they need to reach a product/market fit… but that question got me thinking. When does it make sense to hire a growth hacker? What other things should be considered?

Here are the 3 things, which I think, a growth hacker needs to achieve exponential growth.

Is there a product /market fit ?

Does the company make a product that people want? It doesn’t make sense to bring in a growth hacker before finding the product/market fit. A growth hacker can only scale things that work. Growth hacking acts as a magnifying glass, it can only increase the value if there is value to be increased.

Is there room for exponential growth?

The promise behind growth hacking is exponential/aggressive growth. That can be only achieved if there is room for exponential growth. In a mature market, with a well established product, that answers a well established need and has little to differentiate against the competition growth hacking won’t help. Growth is still possible. Sure. Exponential growth is not.

Is there Support?

Sure, a growth hacker is a “jack of all trades”, meaning that he needs to have marketing & communication experience, product owner skills, data driven approach, understand the product capabilities really well and the advocate customers needs.

However, he won’t be able to execute the plan all by himself. He will be able to identify the best actions and implement some of them by himself, but if he is to succeed, everyone in the company needs to understand that growth is the main focus at this stage and they should support the person leading the efforts.

Do you think I missed anything? Please let me know in the comments below. Really, if you think of something else please let me know.



Startup Consulting: What I’ve learned

Back in November 2015, I did a small experiment, I launched an open invitation to everybody in my network: get free advice for your startup from me.

The deal was: I would offer advice to people with projects in the pre-launch or early post-launch phase that would need help with their overall strategy, marketing, user acquisition, or product development… as long as I can use their cases as study cases for my blog.

Well, the time has come to share the things I’ve learned/found by doing this experiment. Here’s the summary:

  • 13 people contacted me
  • 7 people actually followed up/ qualified
  • 5 people got actionable advice from me
  • 1 launched me on a 2,5 month research into what it takes to achieve your goals

Curious about my little experiment, read on:

  1. People fall in love with their ideas and build products and services that nobody wants.

Even though I wrote about this in the past, it was different talk with someone going through this. Let me tell you about it.

I met Carmen, in December, for a cup of tea in Café de Jaren, here in Amsterdam. She told me that for the last year she built a consultancy and certification service, which would help companies become environmentally friendly.

She would certify restaurant and hotels, after they would take the courses she offered, apply the lessons and pass her inspection. She spent over 7 months building the program, the website, the courses and for the last 3 months she had been trying to sell it to the companies… but there was only one problem nobody wanted to buy what she was selling interested.

Not one restaurant or hotel saw the advantage of 1) helping creating this standard, or 2) being judged by someone. And of course nobody wanted to pay for such thing.

To her this came as a surprise. She loved the idea and thought it’s an amazing service. She put a year of her time, energy, and focus in this only to find out that the need she imagined for companies was not a real one.

As I mentioned, this happens quite often. But why? From what I can see, it’s because people fall in love with their ideas and don’t test them until it’s too late. So how do you find out if your startup idea is good?

  1. People love acquiring customers, but hate researching what they want

The other person I talked to was Adrian, of ASADRA. He is building a marketplace where independent designers around the world show their unique collections to people interested unique fashion.

I loved his enthusiasm and vision so I ended up investing the most time. I wrote about 7 pages of actionable advice and instructions on how to get more information about what their customers want.

We ended up not continuing our collaboration because I thought he should invest more time in understanding his customers, before moving forward while he wanted to start building personas… without talking to his potential first.

But that’s the beauty of doing work pro bono: you can stop as if you don’t agree with your client.

  1. People don’t work on their ideas

This, I found the most interesting. In fact I was so puzzled about it that that I spent a lot of time after figuring out how does one achieve his goals.

Let me tell you about it. Another person that asked for my advice was Sinziana. She wanted to marketplace where Romanian artisans, aka indie product designers, would promote and sell their creations to the people interested in unique local products.

At first my biggest question was how she would differentiate herself from existent websites, like etsy. But after a few minutes into our Skype call I found out that she was pondering taking action for about 3 years. She was talking with lots of enthusiasm and she could tell me how the website looks like, what products she envisioned, how she would advertise it, etc… but hadn’t done anything to start the project. So my question became why didn’t you do anything about it?

I found it puzzling. How come someone so enthusiastic about her ideas wouldn’t or couldn’t take action. I didn’t know what to say other than just take the first step.

But this made me realize I need to learn more about this topic. Especially since after the call I met more and more people at my Startup Maze meetups, who had the same problem. How else would I be able to help them out?


All in all, it was a fun experiment with a great deal of learning for me. I realize I am capable of giving valuable advice, but I do need to hone a few things. Interested in getting my feedback on your project, get in touch through the contact form.

How did we raise €1.5M – Lessons from Jeroen Arts

How did a 3-year-old Amsterdam-based startup managed to raise €1.5M in seed funding? Join Jeroen Arts, co-founder and CEO of to find out the lessons behind this achievement. He will give a ~20 min presentation and then we will have a short Q&A session. Beer, wine, coffee are on WeWork afterwards. To join the event visit our event:

Fundraised €1.5M: how did we do it? Presented by Jeroen Arts

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location details are available to members only.

30 entrepreneurs Went

Signup here:  Important: only people signing up on Eventbrite will be able to get in.How did a 3-year-old Amsterdam-based startup managed to raise €1.5M in seed funding? Join Jeroen Arts, co-founder and CEO of to find out the lessons behind this achievement. He will give a ~20 min presentation and then we wil…

Check out this Meetup →

Deskbookers, is a Dutch work and meeting place booking platform, which got €1.5 million in seed funding in December 2015. The capital comes from Germany’s Point Nine Capital and a number of angel investors, including former CMO Arthur Kosten and former CEO of Marcel Beemsterboer.

The Deskbookers platform allows workers and freelancers to search for and book locations in real time to work at or hold meetings, at an hourly rate, while users can review and rate spaces. At the moment of the announcement,  the startup claimed it processed more than 7,000 bookings a month.

The service is currently available in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany and counts Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Uber among its customers.

Startup-Deskbookers- Jeroen Arts

Deskbookers, was founded in 2013, and this was their first investment round.


The event is made possible by WeWork Metropol, an amazing co-working space in the heart of Amsterdam.

WeWork is the platform for creators. We provide the space, community and services you need to create your life’s work. To learn more about WeWork’s spaces and memberships in Amsterdam, send an email to or call 020 – 7059567.

IoT for startups: what is it + opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Heads up: the next Startup Maze meetup will be on the 19th of January. If you are in the neighbourhood you are more than welcome to come.

This time we will talk about what kind of opportunities does the new IoT network bring to entrepreneurs. I believe that the Internet of Things is here, and you have the chance to get in at the ground floor.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are already covered in a network that enables things to come online. And by July the entire country will be covered. What does this mean for your startup? What opportunities does it bring for you? Join us to find the why, what, how of the IoT movement.

Our speakers are two pioneers in this space:

Jonathan Carter is the initiator of the Amsterdam Internet of Things meetup (~2800 members), mentor at Startup Bootcamp, and co-founder of Glimworm Beacons (the first Dutch mass producer of iBeacon compatible sensors.)

Joahn Stokking is the Tech Lead at The Things Network, the first iot network that covers the entire of Amsterdam. He and Winke, just raised €300.000 on Kickstarter to crowdsource a global open and independent Internet Of Things network.

For more information please visit our event page: IoT for startups: what is it + opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Hope to see you there. 😉

The event is made possible by WeWork Metropol, an amazing co-working space in the heart of Amsterdam. This is their second location in Amsterdam, so make sure you come at the right one.

Free advice for your startup, from me

Hi there,

I’m looking for people with projects in the pre-launch or early post-launch phase that would need help with their overall strategy, marketing, user acquisition, or product development. And I’m willing to help you for free as part of the Startup Maze Coaching Program. 

Why? Because it’s fun, I’ll learn new things, and I would like document the work and publish it on, as a lesson for other people in your exact same shoes. This means I would use your questions and my work as a study case for others. So make sure you’re ok with that.

How would this work?

 You apply for the program via the survey below and let me know a few things about your startup/project.Then:

  • I will select the projects I think I can add value to. Don’t want to waste your time or my time.
  • We will then have a meeting/skype call so I can understand better where you are (I might record that btw)
  • I will go research and come up with the best solution I can think of
  • I will send that to you & and we will have a meeting to walk you through the thought process
  • I will publish a study case on my blog about the project
  • Depending on the complexity of the problem the whole thing could last a few days or a few weeks. Also depending on my work schedule, as I will do this in my spare time.

Who am I?

  • Initiator of this awesome meetup group
  • Founder and editor of (blog and podcast)
  • Working in startups and startup like environment since 2008
  • I have an MBA in marketing form Rotterdam School of Management
  • Passionate about innovation and early stage projects
  • Full info on my linkedin profile



Keep in mind that I will be able to work on only 2-3 projects at the same time. So it will pay off to be among the first to apply.