In The Valley, a startup going in one year from an idea to announcing a collaboration with a global company is a beautiful moment, but not unheard of. In Europe, with its shortage of early-stage capital, such a turn of events is nothing less than miraculous.
Rudie Verweij, the 22-year-old CEO behind that miracle, attributes Incooling's rapid journey to the Big Leagues to two elements – HighTechXL's deep-tech venture approach and to his team.
"In this program, you’re given perfection from the start; tech with lots of research behind it. There's a lot of knowledge to soak up in the beginning. If you get caught up in that soaking up mode, you won't be able to convert the action into building stuff.
"So, you don't get stuck in the 'soaking up' mode," says Rudie.
Unlike conventional startup accelerators, HighTechXL scouts the tech from top global research centers such as CERN, then recruits the best talent in assembling the teams to take that tech to market. Incooling started developing technology to cool computer chips with two-phase cooling technology from CERN but quickly developed its own proprietary technology inspired by CERN research.
That technology uses specialized refrigerants circulating in a controlled loop.
But the greatest technology goes exactly nowhere without the right team. In the conventional startup world, teams tend to come to accelerators in situ.
In the HighTechXL venture-building model, individual talents are sourced locally – people who don't necessarily know each other – and brought together. They might not even be the people you'd naturally want to hang out with, Rudie said. Fortunately, Incooling's four founding team members soon developed real chemistry.
Now, Rudie says, he can't imagine what his life would be without them. "I don't know how I would have found them. How unlikely it is you hit the jackpot when you just start.
"I don’t know how you would do that any other place."
The approach also guarantees a diversity that a closed group in a startup wouldn't necessarily have, Rudie added. Incooling team members are from the Netherlands, Latvia, Iran, Mexico, and Guatemala.
Since the early days, the Incooling team has expanded to seven people from four:
Rudie, Helena Samodurova, Rony Sian, Hejran Mehrtak, Hossein Beikaii, Karen Magaña, and Guus Frericks.
It also has a long list of accomplishments.
Founded at the September 2018 FasTrackathon, by the end of 2019 Incooling had:
• announced at the Beyond Tech conference they had raised 630,000 euros, 30,000 of it from the Eindhoven Startup Alliance and the rest from undisclosed private investors.
• was chosen to attend Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in The Hague.
• won the “wild card” to pitch at the Get in the Ring Global Meetup in Berlin.
• won Innovation Origin's Gerard and Anton Award and 10 Startups to Watch in 2019
• won third place in the Elektor Magazine Startup Games, Best Startup in Benelux
• won the pitch competition at VentureCafe Rotterdam, claiming the grand prize: a plane ticket to InnoVEX in Taiwan. Garage+ selected Incooling to go to Computex (InnoVEX is a part of Computex) so they had booths at InnoVEX and Computex.
This was a pivotal moment, which resulted in two extended trips to Taipei and that partnership with GIGABYTE.
Recent tests with the Taipei-based hardware giant showed Incooling's approach lowered core CPU temperatures up to 20-degrees Centigrade, resulting in a 10-percent increase in boosted clock-speed while lowering power consumption dramatically.
This is especially impressive considering Rudie had no past experience in technology.
In the earliest days, team members were "a bit timid on the technology side, trying to learn as much as we could. Now, we are coming out of shells, converting what we learned into reality," he said.
"If I would give myself advice, I would say do that earlier."
The most fun during this brief but intense ride, Rudie said, has been getting the team together and assessing the skills, "and also the most headaches have come from getting the team together and finding out the skills."
“I don't know how I would have found them. How unlikely is it you hit the jackpot when you just start?” _____Incooling CEO Rudie Verweij on team-building