The Startup Academy: A great learning experience


This weekend BlueCity teamed up with the Start-up Foundation on organising the Startup Academy. A 48 hour hands-on startup experience, focused on learning modern entrepreneurship skills by doing it. A short recap for those that missed out.

The Start-up Port at the Bierstraat (location of this edition) started filling up between 18:00 and 19:00 on Friday. Accompanied with some drinks the participants and the coaches of the weekend got together. In a very relaxed atmosphere the conversations soon got deeper on ambition, professional and intrinsic levels, setting the tone for an entrepreneurial weekend. With participants coming from different age groups and professional or entrepreneurial experience but with a similar drive to learn and grow.

Photo: participants meeting each other and the coaches

Leon Pals, founder of the Startup Foundation led the workshops and guided the participants through the weekend. Sharing the insights and tools of ‘Lean Start-up‘, combining ‘agile development’ with ‘customer development’. Leon continuously used a mix of information and interaction helping to ‘feel’ the theory that he shared. Within every part of the workshops the theory was heavily connected with examples from the field, giving it a feel of a group of entrepreneurs discussing each others ventures, rather than a classroom.

The Friday was brought to an end by pitching ‘problems’ that participants want to solve and eventually teams being formed around these problems. Just before the group left, the teams played around setting up their progress reports for a great start the next day.

“Build something people want!” – Paul Graham

photo: a picture of the progress report canvass.

The rest of the weekend was focused heavily on bringing the lean start-up techniques into practise, with Leon and the rest of the coaches pushing the teams beyond their comfort zone and out of the building. Really talking, interacting and listening to your target group sounds great, but being forced to get out of the building and bring it into practise leads to great new insights.

During the rest of the weekend teams worked hard on finding a relevant problem that a target group actually has, developing and iterating on products or services that could solve the needs. Putting some effort in defining your assumptions but learning (while doing) that you learn most by doing, at least when you actively try to learn and are open to listen. Getting out of the building with your team is an important part, during the days the teams come together to share their progress reports and around lunch and diner time Leon shares more insights and tools on experiment design and iterative development.

On sunday morning, one team is actually delivering a service to their acquired clients another is checking the data collected from their campaign they’ve run in the US, making use of the time-zone difference. But even after minor successes Leon and the coaches kept on pushing on learning and developing even further. If you want to make an optimal impact, you need to keep learning working towards a more efficient and impactful solution for whatever problem you want to solve.

At the end of sunday, the teams are a little bit worn out but satisfied after each team presented their story and learning over the weekend. All and all, the Startup Academy is a great learning experience for both those that want to start their own company as those that are working in a company. By being pushed out of you comfort zone, continuously coached, receiving useful workshops and most importantly by actually doing it you learn how to get to a product-market fit and keep on developing.

Photo: every team was a winner, but two got to open the bottle for learning and progressing the most

“Think, ask, listen to your consumer and start a relevant service or find a product market fit.” Simone Holleman – Participant sharing her learnings.

We are looking to fill up the next ‘class’ with 15 – 20 social and/or ecological impact driven entrepreneurs. If you are interested to learn modern entrepreneurship skills to use in your current or you future business, please let us know. Send an e-mail to or call Bart van der Zande: 06- 146 156 23