Lisa Flieg

CODE_n Alumni | In pursuit of a sustainable world with EcoChain

Today we catch up with a really exciting technology startup which has been a member of the CODE_n community since 2013: EcoChain from lovely Amsterdam! EcoChain embarked on its journey with CODE_n as a finalist of the global startup CODE_n CONTEST. Its motto was “smart solutions for global challenges” and in keeping with this idea, EcoChain pitched a business model with every intention of changing the world. Its idea revolved around a new and innovative life cycle analysis method that would enable companies to maintain a sustainable supply chain.

EcoChain showcasing its sustainability software at the CODE_n13 CONTEST and the overall CeBIT tradeshow (co-founder Boudewijn).

Like to hear more about what exactly EcoChain does? Listen to the CODE_n interview, an excellent opportunity to learn more about EcoChain’s sustainability software and how the startup provides its customers with a unique solution that fosters sustainable supply chains! Or enjoy this explanation video:

 

CODE_n talked to the company’s co-founder Boudewijn Mos about hiring people in an era of digital technology, the lessons learned as a startup, and anything they would now do differently based on the experience of their founder.

1. Hi Boudewijn, nice to catch up with you! So much has happened since you took part in the CODE_n CONTEST in 2013. You’ve expanded the team, won prizes like the Cool Vendors award from Gartner, and partnered with a whole bunch of firms. Congrats for all of this! We’d be curious to hear more about how things have gone for you in recent years, or at least what’s been happening.

A lot of things have happened since the CODE_n CONTEST. The EcoChain platform has evolved into an Environmental Management System that creates real time supply chain transparency. At the CODE_n CONTEST, our team consisted of 5 people and we have now grown our team to 20. This year we opened an office in Germany and the UK, and we hope to expand to other countries soon.

2. We recently used our facilities at CODE_n SPACES to host an event about the future of leadership in times of digitalization. We assume as a growing startup you’re always on the lookout for new team members. How do you find the right people and inspire them with your mission?

EcoChain has a strong focus on changing production towards sustainable production. We want to change the world. The new generation of professionals want to take part in this transition. Therefore, we can attract very motivated and highly qualified professionals.

3. Our readers would love to hear about the lessons you’ve learned as a startup over the past couple of years. What were the biggest challenges for you? Please provide us with some insights and maybe also some advice for fellow founders.

The biggest challenge is to keep focus. Along the path that you as entrepreneur are following, many new opportunities arise. Often these can cause distractions. Keep your focus, keep pushing hard, measure your success, and make changes that are fact-based to create internal buy-in and collaboration. The more resistance from outsiders you feel, the more you should push forward! Understand that innovation will always costs you at least 3 times more, and takes you 3 times longer.

4. If you had to start all over again from scratch, what would you do differently? And, of course, what would you do the same way again?

As EcoChain was very disruptive, we had to continuously alter and update our proposition as we were learning on the job. We could have maintained a stronger focus. Ultimately, our decisions in the past have brought us to the point where we currently are. And we are happy about that.

We have always had a focus on data quality. Sometimes to the extreme. We wanted the market to understand that EcoChain is THE best platform to quantify sustainability on a super large scale and make supply chains transparent. Quality of service and quality assurance of customers’ data is something we are very proud of, and still is a key pillar in our company.

5. Thinking back from today’s perspective – what were the most memorable parts of CODE_n13 and the event at CeBIT?

The magnitude of the event at CeBIT was very impressive. We’ve met very interesting people and we are still in touch with them. It was cool to meet interesting fellow-entrepreneurs.

6. Do you have any recommendations for future participants on how to prepare for the perfect pitch?

One thing that I have learned is to force yourself in keeping your message simple. If you can peel off your story to 1 single sentence, you will certainly be able to pitch your company within 2-3 minutes. Fight your way out to get your proposition down to that single line. That is the power of successful communication (with which I’m still battling every day! 😉

The success of your company is often inversely proportional to the amount of words you can eliminate in your pitch!

Thanks for the update, Boudewijn! We are looking forward to catching up with you in person soon. Keep on rocking.

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Can we save the planet through digitalization? Where new digital technologies can improve sustainability

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