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YES!Delft: Investor readiness program – A partial view

Author: Gaëtan Giraud
november 2020

After a first month as part of the YES!Delft investor readiness program, it is time to share some thoughts on the process, what we’ve learned so far and how it impacted us.

DISCLAIMER: This light-hearted description is only very loosely based on reality and should definitely not be taken at face value :-)

Like most, we started this journey as enthusiastic entrepreneurs, completely sold on our ideas, focused on how great it is and all the cool stuff we have in petto, the myriad of functionality it will provide and how it will revolutionize the market. We were pretty confident, sure of our game.

Then we had 1 minute to pitch.

Big Fail

  • Everybody understood we had something great, nobody could quite get what it was all about.

Investors are from Mars

That would be the first thing we learned. Pitching to an investor (or a prospective client) is not about YOU, it’s about THEM.

Investors speak the language of TAM, SAM, SEM, ROI, Churn, Business Models, Valuation, EBIDTA, Cash Flows... Learning the investor’s lingo was a damning task, like learning a second language full of acronyms and numbers. Frustrating at the beginning, very enlightening in the end. It really helped us get our story straight and forced us to do the math. Cause you’ve got to do the math. You can’t stay forever in the fluffy stage.

The first hurdle passed, it was not the end of it. We had some numbers, great, but what was it again that we sold? And, most importantly, sell to whom?

  • Ok, you’ve got 30 seconds.

Hmm, yes, you know, we make software that does stuff with data, and it’s super cool.

At this point we knew we had to do something about that elevator pitch. 

Elevator music pitch

Here comes the WOW method in place. A simple method to get your ideas straight and write an elevator pitch with a true WOW factor (yes, it is in the name).

Suddenly, it all made sense. This is the story we want to tell, these are our customers, and this is what their pain is.

Elevator pitch much improved, still some way to go, but at least most people now understand what we are trying to achieve.

No free lunch

Now that we’ve got a good enough elevator pitch, and some numbers, time for what we’ve all come for: Show me the money!

Again, a good learning experience: there is nothing like a free lunch in this world. Investors are not charities, they’re in for the big bucks! And how to convince them that you are the next Google when you are a fledging start-up?

  • Get some customers on board, build traction, show you’ve got it!

But wait a sec, to build any sort of real traction we first need to finish up our product! And wasn’t raising money supposed to help get us there? It seems a bit like a chicken and egg story, isn’t it?

Welcome into the real-world people!

There are some options fortunately, government grants and loans, to help you get started and get you through this first stage in your development, without of course forgetting the most common investment of all, some good old-fashioned hard work!

Conclusion

So far, a very valuable program, it has helped us to sharpen our message, build up our case, and get us ready for the next stage!

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Snapshot 1.1 - Action management re-invented: foster collaboration and streamline operations!

Our objective here at Cuurios is to provide the tools that will digitalize and streamline industrial operations, foster collaboration and ultimately unleash an industry data revolution. One of the very valuable and logical use cases for our software platform is the ability to manage, assign and track production related actions. These actions are (in many organizations) currently not managed in a standardized way and I’m sure most of you recognize all these different action lists in various Excel files on shared drives you’re supposed to keep an eye on…

What is it that we do differently?

Exactly that is what motivated us to do it differently, starting by listening carefully to the key criteria we collected during user interviews and conversations with clients. The resulting key criteria we sketched on the board at that time were the following:

  • User friendly, intuitive to use
  • Performant, also on remote connections with limited bandwidth
  • Flexible, customizable and scalable
  • Asset centred, industry ready
  • Data-driven

We want our users to like working with our tools by motivation and not because they are forced to. This simply means we put user experience as our top priority. The simplest things can make a huge difference when it comes to usability. During the first trials with users, we’ve put all our effort in it to make sure every button, entry field or other user interaction in the tool is logical and intuitive for them (and not just for us as product owners :) ).

What does it imply if we put user experience first?

The tool is optimized for use in limited bandwidth environments, resulting in a very snappy and performant UI, even in remote locations. This is the result of a strong focus on the optimization of the application data structure and architecture as well as the optimization of all our data calls (only load the data you need seems a simple philosophy, but unfortunately not the reality in many applications).

Flexible because we understand not every company is the same. So if a client is used to name the priority of an action ‘severity’, they can configure it to be labelled as severity. And if you want three simple straightforward severity levels to select from or five or ten, it’s your choice. If you want an action to be constructed of five simple properties or twenty, all fine! We basically allow you to fully customize the template of your actions and their lifecycle (workflow) to fit your case.

Why is it such a good fit for asset-rich industries?

Asset centred because we focus on solutions for asset rich environments. Actions in these environments are simply always related to assets. A plant, a unit, a pump a vessel, you name it. Your asset structure is represented in the solution by importing the asset hierarchy and definition from your asset management tool. This allows to link the actions to the asset it concerns. It also allows you to set the user permissions linked to the assets.

And the best of all? You can fully automate the creation and the state (i.e. from open to closed) based on your streaming production and asset data. Translating your data to meaningful insights using simple rules, thresholds and complex algorithms has never been so easy. You’ll never miss any of these insights as we provide powerful features, to track, assign and manage these actionable insights.

Want to learn more? We’re happy to demonstrate our product: please leave us a message at: info@Cuurios.com and we’ll contact you to set up a demo!

Rabobank provides Cuurios with growth funding!

Delft, 29 June 2021 - The Rabobank Startup & Scale-Up team has provided Cuurios with substantial growth funding to further scale the company. Cuurios is a fast growing software technology provider transforming the industry and redefining leadership in a digitized world. The combination of an investment round closed earlier this year and the growth capital raised today, Cuurios is in the position to gear up for an exciting journey!

Our objective is to provide the tools that will digitalize and streamline industrial operations, foster collaboration and ultimately unleash an industry data revolution. For one of our clients the automated and data driven production advises in order to produce to the optimum and avoid asset failures contributed to a 3% production increase.

”Being busy isn’t the same as being effective” – Meet Anna

I didn't choose software engineering. It chose me. My first job was site content management using a html redactor. The manipulation of the content was pretty cool and exciting for me and had a permanent impact: I decided that I wanted to further develop myself as a software engineer. After a couple of years I became a full stack developer, and nowadays I mostly work with back-end technologies and DevOps engineering. 

One of the most exciting aspects of programming for me is to see that the code you developed is used by actual people, affects, and improves their everyday lives in so many ways. You release a product and see people interact with it, use it, getting work done with it.

It is motivating to see something I built come to life. It gives me energy to create something that didn't exist before. It also gives me joy to implement interaction between structure and dependencies within a complex application. Playing with algorithms, frameworks, methodology is like fixing a puzzle or making a puzzle of my own.

The time management process helps me organize my work more efficiently, because being busy isn’t the same as being effective. Every morning or the evening before I make a plan on how to divide my time between activities. I sort activities by priority, complexity and time consumptions to make my day as productive as possible.

It is my priority to have a healthy work-life balance. Beside my main job I am an aerial hoop instructor and a competing athlete. This is a huge part of my life and brings me a lot of energy.

This year was difficult for all of us, I miss my group classes and students, but also it gave me the opportunity to give online and private classes. This summer I am going participate in the national IPSF competition in professional senior category.  This is a big event in my life, I spend almost all my free time preparing for this competition and I hope everything will go smooth.

My Cuurios-story

After one and a half years living in the Netherlands and feeling more confident as a professional as well as in my social life, I decided to change my job: that is when I applied to Cuurios. Cuurios got my attention as it is a fast-growing start-up and they need the right people to grow.

Working at a start-up allows me to try a lot of different opportunities and responsibilities, even that weird one that I didn’t think I would ever like but find out that I did. I came into Cuurios as a full stack developer, but now I feel comfortable in a lot of different areas such as DevOps engineering or as a back-end guild speaker, just to mention a few.

The Cuurios team when sees a problem, they think of an innovative and original way of solving it. They are the best people to learn from. They continue to challenge me when I present a solution. They have a different approach than I do, that gives me a broader understanding of the different ways to find solutions. 

Snapshot 1.0: introducing the SaaS platform to accelerate your asset performance, powered by Cuurios

We started Cuurios because we are convinced that data and information in leading organizations will be used to optimize the processes. We successfully verified our vision running many successful projects at various customers in different industries. We enabled our enterprise customers to automatically translate their data into concrete actions. Replacing an entire chain of Excel sheets, e-mail messages and text messages. The resulting efficiency gain and positive performance impact surprises our clients again and again.

The digital-tool developed by Cuurios allows us to further streamline our daily operational tasks. I very much appreciate the flexibility, fast response and easy going cooperation with Cuurios.

The positive impact of these solutions made us realize we had to push through. The lessons learnt at our launching customers inspired us to design and develop the leading SaaS platform in the market of asset intensive enterprises. The sophisticated data to action solution accelerates customers’ performance by an order of magnitude. We enable you to learn from yesterday, know what's happening today and predict tomorrow. 

So, how do we do that?

Engineers are enabled to develop their own algorithms and workflows and configure standard elements as they see fit. The analytics technology used to get insights from your data does not per se need to be complex (i.e. AI or learning algorithms), the trick is to select the right technology for your particular use case! We’ve seen that analytics initiatives resulting in meaningful actions, well embedded in the regular daily work process has a much bigger chance of success compared to yet another fancy dashboard. This has already allowed our customers to avoid multiple production stops, by making smarter use of existing assets and production data. 

Absolute control

We know the feeling: trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – the asset structure and hierarchy of companies cannot be simplified and generalized without compromises. Instead of forcing engineers to somehow adjust their already existing domain representation to a prefixed system, our tool allows complete control over hierarchy, connections and structures, which allows users to eventually have the perfect representation of a domain with no compromises. All that with a graphic display, to be able to overview and edit in a fast and convenient manner.


Bridge between human and machine: a people person in the IT industry - Meet Leen

I grew up in a small village in the Dutch province of Zeeland. During my childhood I spent a lot of my free time outdoors playing with my friends, climbing trees, building tree houses, playing football and swimming in the sea. My father was (and is) a watchmaker and as a small boy I was always intrigued seeing him repair watches and clocks. Looking at all those small parts ultimately forming one single system that tells time. I guess that during those days my passion for technology started, although at that time I excelled taking clocks apart, not repairing them…

Later I got intrigued by the possibilities of computers as we got at home in the late 1980’s: a Commodore Amiga 500. Initially we used it to play games, but soon after that I tried coding new games myself.

At relatively young age I already knew I wanted to be an engineer and I ultimately decided to study Mechanical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology. During the Master phase I specialized in the field of human machine interaction. This is all about making sure you provide people with the right information at the right time to make sure they will be able to make the best possible decisions. This is the red line in my career so far: utilizing (software) technology to help people make timely and well-founded decisions.

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Gaëtan and I started Cuurios in 2018 because we’ve noticed that many industrial big data analytics projects face difficulties to make it into daily reality. In our vision you need to add business value in the early stage of digitization and transform data into prioritized (and assigned) actions for it to be taken seriously. The underlying technology to transform the data does not need to be complex (i.e. AI or learning algorithms), the trick is to select the right mechanisms for your particular use case! Most importantly, make sure you well manage the actions resulting from these data analytics: your average dashboard does not do any of this!

In my current role I get a lot of energy bridging the gap between the customer’s daily reality, new technology and software development.  I’m enthusiastic, curious and people oriented. We typically like to listen very carefully to our clients ideas and requirements and ask the right questions in order for us to be able to deliver software solutions with a WOW factor: always go one step further!

Both professionally and privately I like complex puzzles, varying from large data sets, challenging customer use cases all the way to large LEGO Technic sets. I am confident that this mindset helps me to keep pushing boundaries in search for that missing piece!


A writer’s journey to software engineering – Meet Tamara

My very first program was written in Turbo Pascal. It was a very simple little application, where you could give your birth date, and the app was telling you your astrological sign and all the main characteristics. That was over 20 years ago, when computer science classes for the students in my country meant learning how to turn on and off a computer and change wallpapers.

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From customer relations officer to HR assistant, from journalist to head of marketing I tried myself in many 9 to 5 jobs, until one day I decided, I wanted to do something completely different. At age 27 I decided it was time for a real change – and I started learning again. In just 3 years I became a web designer, and after rediscovering my love for coding, kept on learning to become a full stack developer.

Today, for the very first time in my life, I can finally combine my need for creativity and challenge, I can connect the missing dots. Before coding, when I had an idea, I always thought: „how cool it would be”. But today, I know how to make it happen, I have control over what happens and how, and I can bring all those ideas to life.

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Cuurios is my very first workplace as a full stack developer, but I believe I could not have been any luckier. I am not only a „coder” who translates an idea into code – my ideas are appreciated, and I can work in my own rhythm, try and solve problems alone, but always get support if needed. This is an environment where I believe an entry level programmer can really thrive, learn, and grow as fast as possible, facing challenges, a huge variety of tasks, being responsible but still getting all the support necessary.

Feels like it was yesterday when I created my very first hangman in python as a student. Back then I did not even dream of creating enterprise applications in just a couple of months after school, but with all the tools and support provided at Cuurios, I never felt uncomfortable facing that challenge.

Being a full stack developer helped me grow as a person as well. Learning how to make mistakes a thousand times and keep on trying until you get it right, knowing when you reached your limit and being able to ask for help without feeling uncomfortable about it – it is all part of a developers life as much as life itself.

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