Celebrate 10 years of YBA

The Young Business Award will be celebrating its 10th anniversary soon, making it high time for an All-Stars edition. This special edition will be held on Wednesday, January 18 at the Groninger Oosterpoort during the MXT 2023 Conference. Ten years is something worth celebrating, so we sat down with former competitors Mr. Chadd, CodeSandBox and Flow Your Money, to look back on previous editions and discuss experiences.

Mr. Chadd

The digital, on-demand homework platform Mr. Chadd was YBA a semi-finalist in 2018. Through their platform, students can submit their homework questions via phone, tablet or computer. And within 10 seconds, they'll receive an explanation from a qualified, university-trained coach. “We competed in a lot of startup competitions in the first few years and it’s not just a great way to put yourself on the map as a startup and expand your network, but it also really helps you formulate a good pitch”, co-founder Kim van der Esch says. “It’s one thing to pitch your idea to friends and family, but doing it in front of an audience and a panel of judges, is something else entirely!”

“Looking back on the YBA semi-finals, I got the sense the judges at the time were more focused on current numbers, instead of future potential”, Kim continues. “And especially if you’re a new tech startup, you’re usually not profitable in the first couple of years. So I hope that has changed somewhat. But competitions like the YBA are great though because you do get a lot of relevant feedback. If your startup is already working on something concrete, and not too big and inflexible already to really use the feedback, I definitely recommend competing.”

Have things changed a lot for Mr. Chadd since 2018? “Definitely. When we started out, we focused on students as our customer base, but we’ve transitioned to working with schools as our customers, in both the Netherlands and Belgium. We’re also working together with educational publishers on content and are also focusing more on teachers. We get a lot of interesting user data, so we can see where students get stuck or which topics they ask a lot of questions about. It would be a shame not to use that data to help teachers because they can use that to get a really good sense of which topics are actually more difficult than expected.”


CodeSandbox is a platform for collaborative programming or the 'Google Docs of programming', to use a simple analogy. In 2021, the startup won the Young Business Award and they’ll be taking the stage again for the AllStars edition. “I was super nervous the first time on that stage!” co-founder Ives van Hoorne says. “But it was a really great experience too and it helped us expand our network and leverage new opportunities, so it’s really worth considering if you’re a startup.”

“And a lot has changed for us since then. We spoke to a number of international investors, we currently have 2 million users and have been working hard on a new product. It’s currently in beta and should release at the end of this quarter.”

Founded in Drenthe by Ives van Hoorne and Bas Buursma, the two moved to Amsterdam. Was that because it’s a better place to do business than the Northern Netherlands? “Initially, it felt like the right move. You’re closer to the fire, closer to customers and potential investors. But that was before the pandemic and a lot has changed of course. Now that remote meetings are more common, I don’t know if we would have made the same decision to move to Amsterdam.” 

Flow Your Money

Flow Your Money from Friesland participated in 2020 and was founded in 2018 by Daan van Klinken, Niels Mulder and Danny Wilson. The fintech company launched an app in 2020 that automatically distributes incoming money into budgets, savings accounts and investments based on "triggers" that users set themselves. “It was a really cool experience”, co-founder Daan van Klinken says. “Funny story actually, the YBA was hosted by Jort Kelder, who’s also the host of the TV show Dragon’s Den, where we also competed in. He recognized us, which was very cool. I would really recommend competing as a startup because everything suddenly becomes very real and it helped us take things to the next level.”

“That same year we also got our PSD2 license for account information and payment initiation service providers, which was a very important milestone for us”, Daan continues. Have things changed a lot since then? “A lot actually! The biggest change I would say has been our mindset and thinking big. We got a lot of help from Alex van Ginneken and Ton van ‘t Noordende from PHX in laying the groundwork for scaling up internationally. It was a really eye-opening experience and just by changing our mindset, our company changes with it. You’re working towards something and you suddenly find yourself hiring new people to help with that, where you would previously hire someone to help with your current workload. We’re taking very exciting steps and are currently working on ways to collaborate internationally and integrate our solution into existing platforms.”

With all their big ambitions, will Flow remain in the Northern Netherlands? “Definitely. We started out as a remote company and are already working with people from all over the world, so there’s no reason to move. And it’s actually helped us too. Amsterdam is crowded with fintech startups and here it’s much easier to stand out and get great opportunities because of that.”