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EBB for 14 May: The Valley returns to Eindhoven; Europe’s work ethic and global competitiveness

(Editor’s note: The Eindhoven Business Briefing is part of our Tech Tuesday series. We cover tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers, physicists and entrepreneurs.)

The Valley returned to Eindhoven for the fourth year with Draper’s Silicon Spring Pitch Prize event. The event, at the Conference Center at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, was sponsored by LUMO Labs.

Six European startup teams of varying maturity vied for three slots at Draper University, the five-week Hero Training Program, a mini-accelerator in San Mateo, Calif, from 24 June to 26 July. The $14,000 package includes entry into the program, airfare, tuition and dorms.

From left, LUMO Lab’s Andy Lürling, Moonbird co-founder Stefanie Broes, GreenAnt’s Mario Simmaco and Athalis Kratouni, founder of Tenbeo.

We don’t get paid enough to keep you in suspense, so let’s get to winners:

• The panel of six judges voted Moonbird, a handheld personal biofeedback device scale-up based in Antwerp, the winner.

• First runner-up was Brussels-based Tenbeo, a biometric security startup that uses the unique human heartbeat for EKG-based verification.

• Second runner-up was GreenAnt, a startup that uses satellite-based radar and AI to track forest degradation.

Stefanie Broes

Moonbird was the most advanced in terms of market development. The company generated 5 million euros in revenue for 2023 and 150-percent year-over-year revenue growth, said Stefanie Broes, who gave the Draper pitch. Stefanie Broes co-founded the company with her brother Michael.

The team projects sales reaching $30 million by 2029 as they move from Europe into global markets, including the United States.

Moonbird came out of Stefanie Broes’ sleep issues and uses breathing techniques to decrease stress and achieve better sleep, with empirical evidence and analytics to prove efficacy, she said.

Stefanie Broes has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from KU Leuven. Michael Broes has a master’s degree in business economics.

First runner-up Tenbeo, based in Brussels, was founded by Athalis Kratouni, a native of Burundi, who told the crowd she sold her first startup at 20 years old. The AI-enhanced heart signature cyber security company already has market traction after raising 500,000 euros from Zürich-based financial group Julius Bär in a pre-seed round.

We have to say that both Broes and Kratouni gave two of the better pitches we’ve seen lately, and we’ve seen a LOT of pitches.

The six teams pitching were:

Beyond Weather

Draper’s Silicon Spring Pitch Prize competition is the result of a partnership between LUMO Labs, Draper University and LUMO Labs’ local ecosystem partners. Draper was founded by venture capitalist Tim Draper. His “university” brings together young entrepreneurs, startup founders, executives and investors all under one roof.

LUMO Labs is a combination accelerator and investment fund based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. The partnership with Draper dates to the first Draper event at High Tech Campus back in 2021.

There … someone finally said it

Ben Horowitz

That LUMO Labs put the smartest people in Europe on stage Monday underscores the dichotomy that is the European tech sector. The brightest people come from some of the best universities to create some of the most promising startups … then go on vacation.

I’m about to become the most unpopular person in Eindhoven and among an elite group of villains across Europe who are saying out loud what everyone knows: Europeans are going to have to work longer and harder to stay competitive in tech at a time when American companies literally work people to death.

This is part of a thread on LinkedIn commenting on a post about how the French tried to organize a conference to discuss moving to a four-day work week but couldn’t because everyone was on holiday:

The French government this week wanted to organise a big conference on working 4 days a week, but then realised Wednesday and Thursday are bank holidays and everyone is taking Friday off. France in May: you can’t even get enough people for a meeting to discuss working less.

This issue of European competitiveness came to a head last month when the director of Norway’s $1.6 trillion (with a “t”) sovereign fund announced the fund would pivot to investing in the United States “because Americans just work harder.”

Nicholai Tangen said the quiet part out loud … that Europeans are not very ambitious: “I should be careful about talking about work-life balance, but the Americans just work harder.”

The average U.S. worker reports working 1,811 hours a year, or about 35 hours a week, compared to an average of 1,571 hours a year among workers in European Union countries. But I can tell you from personal experience that from Silicon Valley to Boston, anyone in a startup is putting in 80-hour weeks. Ben Horowitz, the legendary American entrepreneur and investor/founder of legendary VC firm a16z, writes about telling employees that if they would give him six months of non-stop work, he could turn around their struggling Loudcloud software/cloud computing business. They did, and he did.

That could never happen here.

Europe is full of startup teams who believe “work-life balance” comes first, trying to build the next Google by working 10-to-4, with weekends, Mondays, Fridays and religious holidays off. And that’s fine. But there’s a reason that of the world’s 100 most valuable tech companies, 80 are American and the rest are based in China, Taiwan and Japan.

–– Terry Boyd

Final notice:

• Fe+male Tech Heroes Conference: From FemTech Lows … to Glows

Christine Brown

16 May, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at High Tech Campus Eindhoven’s Conference Center. The theme for the fifth edition of the Fe+male Tech Heroes Conference is “From FemTech Lows … to Glows”

For this event, the plenary program will include three keynotes, including one from Christine Brown, senior director, Development & Engineering at ASML. Christine was awarded Female Tech Hero of the Year at the awards ceremony in November.

There will be career workshops at the Conference Center, then the group goes on “tech safari” to innovation hubs around Campus for tech talks and demos. Networking activity/drinks/networking will be in the Summer Tent on The Strip. So, yeah, it’ll be a party.

Tickets are 15 euros and you can get them here.

Open Day 2024 at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Open Day is Saturday, 8 June. This bi-annual event opens the doors to Campus companies and to innovation hubs at Europe’s largest R&D campus, with lots of interactive displays, food and music. In 2022, we were there and the event drew 10,000-plus people. It rocked.

There’s no entry fee or registration. Just come.

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