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“It gives you a lot of freedom”

“It gives you a lot of freedom”

Local Hero Award

MAASTRICHT. The winner of the Local Hero Award gets ten thousand euro. Students who have an idea for their own business, may enter into this competition, which is organised by the Universiteitsfonds Limburg,  until 5 September. It is the third time that the Award will be presented. How are the previous winners doing? What did the prize give them and how is their business doing now?

“It gave us a lot of freedom,” says student of medicine Henri Boersma. He won the Local Hero Award in 2012 together with Christian Nauerz, PhD candidate at the School of Business and Economics, for Finido, a to-do list App. “We were able to rent an office during the summer, buy extra equipment and hire staff to help us with things that we know nothing about, such as design and marketing.”

Finido doesn’t just manage your to-do list, but also determines by means of an algorithm which task you should do when, considering the deadline. “We launched it last September, and now we are working on a second version, which should be ready in July. Users wanted to be able to indicate on which days they had a lot of time and on which days they didn’t have much time to work on their tasks. So now the App synchronises with your agenda.”

Boersma advises students to participate in the competition even if they only have an idea. “You get tips on how to draw up your business plan, advice on how to pitch your idea, and the jury asks you questions that will help you move forward. Winning is of course fantastic, but you also learn a lot from just participating.”

Winning the Local Hero Award yielded Florian Schneider, a graduate of SBE and the winner in 2013, more than just money. “It adds to your credibility. We got to do quite a lot of pitches. Also, media like picked it up.” That doesn’t mean the money wasn’t useful. “We used it to build our prototype and take other necessary steps towards market introduction.”

Schneider is co-founder of Nerdalize, a company that builds heaters that make use of the heat coming from computers. “Data centres get hot. Instead of using more energy to cool these buildings down, we want to use this heat. We build a box that looks like a heater – only prettier – with some of the data centre processors in it so it can warm your house.” People don’t have to be afraid that strangers can search through their online saved pictures. “We only use processors used for computing, not storage.”

Schneider and the other co-founders hope to introduce the product to the market by the end of the year. He advises students who want to enter the competition to “really have their pitch in order. Be very clear about the benefit you provide and the impact you are going to have.”

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