My name is Luana Pascu and I am currently in charge with Marketing Communications, among others, at Startupbootcamp Amsterdam. At the moment my main focus is on the NFC and Contactless program. Startupbootcamp is a global accelerator for startups which runs programs in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Haifa, Copenhagen and Eindhoven, with many more on the way. My story with Startupbootcamp began one year ago. I had just finished my Master in New Media and Digital Culture at the University in Amsterdam and received an interesting email via the study’s mailing list. A former student in the program was looking for someone to take over her work in an accelerator program. I read the description and I instantly applied because I thought it sounded absolutely amazing. It’s not very often that young entrepreneurs are encouraged to pursue their dreams and passions, considering the economic climate and the generation GAP. So I said “what the heck, I’ll give this startup thing a try” and here I am one year later, still running around the office organizing pitch days, posting some tweets, writing a blog or two and a million other things. It’s great that we are such a great team, in the end we are a bunch of jack-of-all-trades; we do a little bit of everything that takes to run an amazing accelerator program.
When I was invited for the interview, I had already done my research and knew some details about Startupbootcamp. I was so overwhelmed by the mentor network and what the teams had done so far! If that didn’t convince me, then the team was about to. What I thought was great, and it totally took me by surprise, was that I had a chance to also speak with Patrick de Zeeuw, Co-founder of Startupbootcamp Global and CEO of Startupbootcamp Amsterdam. Having a short corporate experience, I was pleasantly surprised that he was very friendly and open, not rigid at all! I know that on the website it says “Startupbootcamp is a mentor-driven program”, but I really think it should, first of all, say “Startupbootcamp is a passion-driven program”, because if you’re not passionate about what you are doing, then you should quit. And these guys have passion and teamwork written all over them! The reason I am mentioning this is because, as we always say to the teams in the program and to those pitching during our Pitch Day events, the team is the most important. Yes, you read that correctly! You may have a brilliant idea for a company and have a zillion plans and investment promises, but if your team sucks, you are fighting and you simply don’t get along, then you can kiss goodbye any success you might achieve. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned here, and many more, without even knowing.
My time with Startupbootcamp will soon end, but I am grateful for this awesome journey during which I met inspiring entrepreneurs, friendly people, I learned about startups and life, in general, and, last but not least, I became part of the Startupbootcamp multicultural family. If done right, it can be a very challenging and spontaneous environment, in which now you say potato and then you say patato. You are 99% prepared to implement an idea, but five minutes later you make a 180 degree turn. This is called pivoting, a concept startups learn from as early as the Final Selection days, when they are recruited for the program. I agree that it can sometimes be a downside, but in the end it teaches you that you always have to be prepared… for anything. So if you join this ecosystem with an open mind and an open heart, but most of all a passion to just learn new things, then you are on the right track.