August 10, 2023

Ready to launch your own business?

If you're contemplating starting your own business, there are some essential things you need to know. Building a business from the ground up can be both exhilarating and challenging. It takes a strong passion, persistence, a deep conviction in your mission, and a willingness to learn from those who have paved the way before you.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. This article shares the experiences of two successful entrepreneurs, Erwin Haas from Landscape AI and Violette Defourt from Rapidemic. They each established their own companies in different fields and offered their insights and experiences on starting a company.

Erwin founded Landscape AI, an IT company specializing in artificial intelligence (AI), while Violette started Rapidemic, a life sciences company focusing on diagnostic solutions. Despite their different fields, they share a passion for innovation and a desire to impact the world positively.

Landscape AI team

EXPLORING THE INTERSECTION OF BUSINESS AND AI

Erwin Haas developed his passion for entrepreneurship at a young age, having grown up around his father's business. He accompanied his father to client meetings, and his dedication inspired him.

During his computer science studies, Erwin became interested in data science and its practical applications. He combined his expertise with medical data for his bachelor's thesis to create a machine-learning model recognizing skin diseases.

"In the LUMC, there was a vast database of skin disease images, and I recognized an opportunity to train a machine learning model in identifying these diseases."

Erwin's experience fueled his enthusiasm for using AI to solve complex problems. He founded Landscape AI to pursue his passion. His entrepreneurial approach allowed him to explore different industries and tackle diverse challenges.

Erwin and his team continue to push the boundaries of AI by remaining up-to-date with the latest advancements and seeking out new projects.

FROM PASSION TO PREVENTIVE HEALTHCARE

During her time as a student, Violette Defourt participated in a student project for an international competition organized by MIT. She worked with a team from Leiden to create a PCR-in-a-chip solution, which combines lab-based testing accuracy with the simplicity and accessibility of antigen and antibody tests.

Violette focuses on preventive healthcare, particularly in the field of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Her interest in preventing and tackling infectious diseases in communities led her to pursue entrepreneurship. She believes in equal access to healthcare globally and sees entrepreneurship as a means to make a tangible impact in line with her values and aspirations.

“Implementing science and creating something that promotes equal access to preventive healthcare is vital, particularly in the field of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).”

Violette's journey includes research and development to create the technology behind the diagnostic solution. She leads the research team and fosters an environment of growth and learning. Finding like-minded individuals committed to making a difference in preventive healthcare is crucial, as she believes it fosters an environment of innovation.

INSIGHTS AND ADVICE FROM SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS

Violette and Erwin have shared valuable advice for individuals interested in starting their own companies.

Stay open-minded during the validation process, be willing to evolve and adapt quickly, and adopt a learning mindset
— advises Violette

Learning quickly and preparing to iterate swiftly applies to the venture's technology and market sides. The key is finding the sweet spot where they align and complement each other.

“Be curious. Open yourself to exploring data, understanding processes, and uncovering the true goals and needs of the problem you are trying to solve,” - recommends Erwin.

As Erwin says, cultivating curiosity in technical domains and across various fields and disciplines is essential.

UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM AND THE BUSINESS NEEDS

They also highlighted the significance of understanding the problem the company aims to solve and aligning solutions with clients’ specific needs. Being curious about end-users becomes even more critical when starting a company. It involves actively listening to clients, asking the right questions, and adapting to change.

Take the time to understand their perspectives, challenges, and requirements, as this understanding will help create the right solutions that genuinely address their needs.

Violette and Erwin encourage individuals to embrace the adventure of delving into the complexities and intricacies of the field.

EMBRACE EXPLORATION AND RESILIENCE

Entrepreneurs need to learn and explore new ideas continuously. Erwin suggests staying up-to-date by talking with peers, reading, and thinking outside the box.

"We stay creative and innovative by constantly exploring, reading technical papers, and keeping up with the latest advancements in AI," - shares Erwin.

Erwin and Violette emphasize the significance of continuous learning and remaining persistent and resilient. By embracing challenges and constantly seeking new ideas, they have been able to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape.

Entrepreneurship can be challenging and uncertain, but Erwin and Violette stress the importance of persistence, learning from failures, and staying motivated.

COLLABORATE AND COMMUNICATE

Violette highlights the importance of networking and communication. Engaging with professionals, attending conferences, and leveraging platforms like LinkedIn can create valuable connections and opportunities for growth. She also emphasizes the significance of reaching out to individuals who can contribute to your journey.

“A lesson my mom instilled in me is that if you don't ask, you won't receive. No one will come to you without an invitation.” - says Violette

Every interaction has the potential to teach you something new. Embrace the opportunity to learn from those around you, as their insights and experiences can be invaluable, so be persistent and overcome the challenges of reaching out to others.

Erwin and Violette also emphasize seeking feedback and talking to people. Real-life experiences and interactions can provide valuable insights and learning opportunities to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

The stories of Erwin and Violette exemplify the journeys of determined entrepreneurs who turn their passions and expertise into successful ventures. Starting a company from the ground up requires a unique blend of technical knowledge, business acumen, and a deep understanding of customer needs. These entrepreneurs can navigate the ever-evolving business landscape by continually learning, embracing challenges, and fostering collaborations.

If you are considering starting your business, take inspiration from Erwin and Violette’s experiences. Determination, innovation, and a genuine desire to make a difference are essential. Remember, it’s not just about the initial idea but also about execution, collaboration, and willingness to learn and adapt. Although the journey may be arduous, the rewards can be immeasurable.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from Erwin and Violette's experiences and apply their insights to their journeys. With determination, innovation, and a genuine desire to make a difference, anyone can create a thriving company from scratch, despite the challenges that may arise.

Do you have any questions about starting a business? Don't hesitate and get in touch to explore the possibilities.

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