On 3 April, sparks were flying at the Kennispoort building on University of Technology Eindhoven's campus. The building was the venue for a dizzying 175 speed dates, spread over seven rounds, between more than 40 coaches from 25 different companies and 80 ambitious students. On this afternoon, the people behind the top 40 projects from the TU/e Contest had the unique opportunity to meet all business partners face-to-face and hopefully make a lasting impression on them. The restaurant was transformed into one huge dating arena in which students were given a fifteen-minute slot to wow the coaches with their ideas. With the clock ticking ominously in the background, students needed to use their time wisely to brainstorm with experts and take on valuable feedback. This event also provided an opportunity for students to network in an informal setting and to get to know more about interesting career opportunities.
A plenary session in the adjacent room was organized before the start of the speed dating.
After a general welcoming speech by Lino Thewissen from the TU/e Contest, Isabelle Reymen briefly described the developments at TU/e innovation Space. After, Thomas Mensink gave further details on the Golden Egg Check, the tool that will be used in the next phase of the Contest to develop business plans. The final slot was given over to the coaches, who each had one minute to pitch their company. Just like in previous years, this year's edition welcomed some fantastic, new companies that were joined by partners who have attended all editions or just a couple of editions of the speed dating
Isabelle Reymen, Scientific Director TU/e innovation Space
Once everyone had been explained the rules of speed dating, it was time for the students to sit down at the coaches’ dazzlingly white tables. But what were the coaches looking for in their date? Frido van der Blij and Stefan van Trigt from ASML said they were mainly interested in how teams had prepared. They wanted to hear about the ideas’ specifications and whether they were technically feasible. Frank Steeghs from ACE Ingenieurs & Adviesbureau (ACE Engineers and Consultancy) was keen to hear these points, but also wanted to meet the people behind the project and see their passion and energy.
The chiming of the clock marked the end of a speed date and the time to change tables. While new teams rushed off to their next date, other students were anxiously discussing how they thought their date went. In the meantime, as some of partners were taking a breather, coaches jotted down their findings before the next fresh face appeared at their table. With an exciting setting and a group of enthusiastic students and coaches, the seven speed dates seemed to fly by.
Everyone nowadays has heard of speed dating, but is it a good way of practising your pitch? Ingmar Nieuweboer from the Office Jungle team thinks so. And in any case, the best way to practise something is to actually do it. Eloisa Kompier from The Second Brain raises another point: speed dates are great because companies have time for you and really listen to what you're saying. She thinks speed dates are an effective way to practise pitching your idea clearly and confidently.
BOM, one of the new partners, says that most students are well prepared, with many demonstrating their own animations, YouTube clips, and prototypes during the afternoon.
Derek Young (Medtronic) & Chairgonomics during a speed date
Both the coaches and the students saw the added value of the joint brainstorming session. Derek Young from Medtronic, one of the coaches, hopes he can help students to think outside the box, so that they can transform products into systems instead of isolated ideas. Hubert von Heyden from Flexotels added that he mainly wanted to share his experience of marketing products. Reka, Ezgi, and Britt from the MIVO team thought the diversity of the feedback was a plus point: receiving advice from various perspectives helped students to develop their ideas in different directions and give them more depth.
In a nutshell, this dynamic event matched coaches’ knowledge and experience with TU/e students’ ambitions and potential. More than just passing on knowledge, the afternoon saw some sincere, inspiring exchanges between people on both sides of the table. That's what you'd call speed dating 2.0!