When we next sought to investigate another great BizSpark team, we turned to Netherlands, and Orange Tribes, a young tech start-up that was founded August 2012. According to founder Maarten-Jan Vermeulen, the company's goal is "creating great, seamless cross-device experiences for both customers and users...for both Windows and iOS."
They've recently built, De Telegraaf (this link goes to the Windows 8 app, see below for more app links), a news app for the most read newspaper in the Netherlands. It uses Visual Studio, Windows Azure Mobile services, Azure Websites, Azure Cloud services (Worker and Web roles) and Azure SQL, MVC4, JSON.net, Entity Framework, Team Foundation Service and Office 365.
We sat down to talk to Vermeulen about his experience building a company.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
Both, B2b for revenue and B2c starts with scale and then plotting of monetizing scenarios!
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
As a High school student I started my first business, helping people with tax returns (fully outsourced and made a nice margin being the middle man!) as a graduate I started own Dance Music Events company, called LostinMuzik.com , we booked the first big names in smaller venues and laid the foundation for smaller local events in the Amsterdam area. After selling the concept I invested time in my career at MSFT I switched from entrepreneur to entrepreneur working at SMS&P and DPE in various roles, after 9 years I felt I had to change my game and after 11 years I did, leaving and pursuing my dream -> Orange Tribes
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
We are really convinced that we can enable a higher quality of live by using the right technology scenarios, currently working making following social media more straightforward with www.sleevemusic.com and working on smart offices scenarios using NFC and smart screens etc.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially.
Although it sounds great that you can be your own boss you still have to deal with a lot stuff that is outside your circle of influence, so awareness of this is important next to keeping your focus and keep doing what’s right personally and in business
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur?
Drive, Passion, focus and perseverance to name a few.. What makes your startup a startup? We started one year ago with 2 launching customers, since then we have grown from 2 to 10 people and switched from building solely for customers to creating our own apps and Dance Music platform where we experiment with different monetizing scenarios, so still a lot to put in place (processes, deeper structure perhaps) on the other hand things are really working for us currently and we feel great doing what we do!
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
We started as a dedicated MSFT partner focusing on W8 and WP8 but with the market being as it is we decided to embrace iOS to make sure we make some money, MSFT did not really bring us anything the last year, only free MSDN in BizSpark, but with the market changing and leadership changes we still see a lot of opportunities that we want to harvest together with MSFT!!
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Free development tools and Azure opportunities for short term and maybe solid partnership when MSFT sees value in your start-up..!
Maarten-Jan Vermeulen, Founder & CEO at Orange Tribes