Collider co-founder Ellen Bark speaks on the myths about starting your own business

Ellen Bark recently co-hosted HelloMaas’ new weekly podcast HelloMasters, alongside Rado Raykov, CEO of (Collider Class of 2017).

“If you keep joining accelerator after accelerator, you are like one of those guys that stays in college for the lifestyle” – Rado Raykov

Four people around their forties with solid careers took the decision to become startup founders. You may wonder why after listening to this podcast. From fundraising and hiring for diversity to working insane hours, we demystify and challenge persistent myths about startups in this fast-paced episode of HelloMasters.

Clockwise: Sander Nagtegaal, Willemijn Schneyder, Rado Raykov & Ellen Bark-Lindhout

Listen as Rado Raykov of Holler.LiveWillemijn Schneyder of SwipeGuideSander Nagtegaal of UnlessLouise Doorn of HelloMaaS, as the founders of Dutch marketing startups, together with co-host Ellen Bark-Lindhout of , challenge the following most persistent start-up myths:

  • Just build a great product

  • You need a co-founder to built a successful startup

  • You need to work 80 hours a week

  • You need to be a college drop-out

  • Startup founders are best when they are young.

  • Startups don’t need diversity

  • Raising a lot of money is a sign of success.

  • Pitch competitions, accelerator and corporate challenges are important

  • Building a team needs to happen in person. So where does that leave remote teams?

  • As CEO/Founder you’re only happy when you have sold or IPO’ed your company


[00:00:00] Introduction Ellen, Rado, Willemijn and Sander

[00:03:55] Myth #1: Just build a great product

“VC’s told me I was building Rolls Royces, rather than the Beetles that you actually need” – Sander

“A great team cannot do without a great product” – Willemijn

[00:05:29] Myth #2:  You need a co-founder to build a successful startup.

“If you have  a solid base, you can build a good house. It depends on the definition of what a co-founder is.” – Rado

[00:07:55] Myth #3: You need to work 80 hours a week or more

“It’s like interval training, sometimes you do sprints and other times we take it slow.” – Willemijn

[00:10:17] Myth #4 & #5: College dropout & Startup founders are best when they are young.

“Hard data: the average age of a startup founder is 42 years old.” – Louise

“I’m 44 and I just don’t get impressed by bad stuff. If I were 21 and got hit in the face, I would cry and run. Now I would still cry but not run.” – Sander

[00:13:43] Myth #6: Startups don’t need diversity

[00:16:59] Myth #7 Raising a lot of money is a sign of success.

“At least step one, you’re pretty good at” – Sander

[00:21:43] Myth #8: Pitch competitions, accelerator and corporate challenges are important

[00:26:52] Myth #9: Building a team needs to happen in person. So where does that leave remote teams?

[00:33:38] Myth #10 As CEO/Founder you’re only happy when you have sold or IPO’ed your company

“ I wonder if the love of the journey is a high indicator for a potential successful exit.” – Ellen

Want to listen to the episode? Hit this link!

Collider presents: Purpose Meets Performance

We look back at an afternoon with a truly “good” vibe in the audience and a great set of speakers who gave us insights, based on first hand experience, about how companies and brands can embrace purpose.

There were some keypoints given by the speakers and we’re very proud that they were able to enlighten us with their interpretatation of purpose within their business. Below please find some keypoint that were discussed during the Purpose Meets Performance event.

  • Purpose is becoming increasingly important to brands, with many of the speakers talking about it as a competitive advantage increasing not just revenues but also customer and employee engagement.

  • It’s not authentic and just not enough to “do purpose” on top of the business. As Coen de Ruiter from Independer put it: Purpose is Business and Business is Purpose. Or as Dylan from The Student Hotel argued: Purpose Position is your Brand position. Only then it will drive everything you do, both internally and externally.

  • Niki Kauffmann illustrated how that works in Rituals. Their purpose, “making you feel good”, was always there and lived by the founder. But clearly defining and expressing it, helped to engrain it further in every aspect of the business. Her advice: keep it simple – and then full focus

  • Harm Jans from shared with us how a new way of holacracy based working, with cross functional teams defining their own roles and goals, following their “sparks”, allows employees to be truly engaged with their own purpose and that of the organisation.

  • Dylan Ingham inspired us to work out how people can do good through your brand. To increase the chance to deliver meaningful impact: align your effort to global SDG’s, employ more women, employ more activists, get their purpose and give them 10% of their time to work on it > purpose must be real, lived, time owned. If you get it wrong, audiences will leave. If you get it right, you have more than a product - you have an innovation channel.

  • Amy Williams from Good-Loop showcased how startup-corporate collaboration can be successful. Delivering great performance as well as positive impact by moving a little bit from massive ad spendings to charity. Our other Tech-for-Good startups, Clickshelp and Greengame talked about their innovative ways to help brands doing good. Because Good is the new Cool - Consumers are voting with their wallets by buying products and services from brands who have a higher mission and positive social impact.

We look back at a wonderful afternoon with good conversations, presentations, network drinks and insights. Also, our our next event is coming! It will be called Hyper Retail and will be held on June 18th 2019. You will hear more from us in the future! 

Launch Event: Meet the Collider Class of 2018!

Hello Collider Class of 2018!

Wednesday, October 3rd, Collider Amsterdam launched their new cohort of amazing Madtech startups, Collider’s Class of 2018!

Six startups from the UK, Ireland, Estonia, the US and India were selected to join our second accelerator programme in Amsterdam, kicking off in mid-October.

With the presence of some good food and drinks, the attendents learned from the founders how their technologies can help brands better understand, target, engage, convert, serve and retain their customers.

Our friends from The @Leisure Group hosted this event at their wonderful HQ in Amsterdam.

Collider Amsterdam Class of 2018:

* Churnly’s churn prediction software uses Machine Learning to deeply understand why a company loses customers and predicts which customers they’ll lose.

* GladCloud is an enterprise SaaS platform for brands and services in the global convenience economy to drive increased revenue across their network of local affiliates.

* NeoSound uses AI to turn sound into meaningful data, helping call centers efficiently to improve customer communication and increase retention

* Pinstorm makes tools that make real-time creative advertising possible for e-commerce, news and other companies who make a business from fast changing information

* RapidPricer utilizes deep learning algorithms and machine vision to dynamically price and promote retail products in real time, in order to reduce waste and increase margins

* Yoke helps apps to grow by driving downloads through social media influencers & providing tangible business value.

Start of the programme 2018

This October, the Collider Amsterdam Class of 2018 started with their programme. Of course Collider provides funding and connections, but in the programme coaching is the main focus.

Our 6 MadTech startups from all over the world kicked off at the Prep Days in September, before they where selected. This was a sneak peak of the programme, because in this process you really accelerate. Our cohort kicked the programme off with a presentation by Ellen Bark & Rose Lewis: Co-founder of ColliderNL and ColliderUK. In this week they learned about focussing, customer insight and had 1-on-1’s with the investors.

Our program consists of plenary sessions, 1-on-1’s, workshops and more. From Legal subjects to Sales…

We really love the programme weeks. Everytime Collider provides a brilliant speaker on a subject that we need to help us grow. - Kiran Gange, CEO Rapidpricer

Group picture class of 2018

Why legal stuff matters to your startup

The paperwork, the contracts, the term sheets, the compliance regulations. You might have incredible tech, a team worthy of a Nobel Prize and your dream customer already in the bag, but without getting all the legal stuff sorted, you’re pretty screwed.

In the accelerator world, there’s often an expectation to see there’s a legal partner, but few actually discuss what that really means. And so after launching Collider Amsterdam in 2017, it gave us the perfect opportunity to scour the Dutch market for that dream partnership, where we landed on the folks at LXA The Law Firm.

Having now worked with over 50 startups at Collider, we can see (and totally understand!) that the legal stuff isn’t the most exciting part. But, it’s arguably one of the most important, and gives meaning to sink or swim.

An awesome law firm is a company that can support our startups with a whole host of issues, from IP to GDPR, to option pools and term sheets, but by doing so becomes an incredible, trusted advisor to our angel investors. In our eyes, that’s a win-win for all parties.

New startup, new country

As part of our deal, we expect startups to move their business to Amsterdam in order to receive investment. Innovating in fresh waters in a new country and likely going into competition with huge, multinational companies takes real bravery, which is exactly why you need a serious legal office behind you.

“LXA were right there at the start of our journey into the Netherlands,” said Rado Raykov, CEO and Co-Founder of, a Collider Amsterdam startup which helps brands to access an always-on focus group of millions, with real-time analytics and live feedback.

“Shortly after we made the transition and became a Dutch company we had the good fortune of having to very quickly switch gears thanks to our first paying customer waiting for us to send our contract proposal.”

The many needs for a legal expert

It doesn’t take a genius to know that startup life can be tough; but until you’re faced with that next challenge, it’s not always possible to see it coming.

“Having your papers in order is a must for future investment,” said Rado. “One of our co-founders is an American. Our first client is from outside the EU. We all needed employment contracts with our own company. We had to begin our GDPR compliance roadmap. Oh yeah - and then there’s the matter of Intellectual property.”

Ultimately, we know the legal stuff isn’t the most exciting part for investors or for founders, but having this organised from the start will save you a lot of money on ibroprufen in the future.

Your tech might be great, but business wants business

Many of these things are simply the harsh realities of the real business world, and chatting to any of your startup friends over a beer will likely reveal it’s common practice. But without the security of a startup-friendly, efficient and seriously knowledgeable legal firm, you’re unable to do what you really do best – and that’s sell.

“When you say ‘innovative’, businesses hear “’unproven’. When you say ‘new’, businesses hear ‘risky’. Having to surmount to all of that is a difficult task,” said Rado. 

“But if you have the right partners on board to make sure that the law is on your side, that your contracts are rock solid, that you can step on their reputation and professionalism to mitigate and minimise the risk for your team, investors and clients - then you can venture into any boardroom. 

“Yes, you might be young, but when it comes to the lawyers and the law - you are equal with the other side of the table.”