Germain Miedema is co-founder & Chief Surprise Officer of Hintle and a participant in the previous edition of StartupLeap.
Learn how he managed to find the problem and solution that formed his company and what he learnt from the experience of being an entrepreneur.
Why did you decide to become a founder?
Since I was 8, I dreamed about having my own company. But then I fell in love with advertising. When that dream wasn’t as rosy as I thought, I decided that I am going to start my own business.
How did you find the problem and the solution?
I am a foster child since I was 4. From then, up to my 19th birthday I moved 13 times until I felt ‘save’ again. Due to the constant change I had a hard time connecting with the people around me. When I got to university at the age of 18, I decided that it’s time to truly bond with people. Therefore, I always tried a bit harder by doing special gifts, or outings, to really make people feel I want to keep them close. In 2014 I tried to build an Identity provider Yonn.me that people would pay for. I quickly learnt, I wasn’t ready at that time. I didn’t have any skills to lead a company. Consequently, I went back to the drawing table, got a job and set a course to become an entrepreneur. The solution ‘Hintle’ came 4 years ago. At may 2016, just a day after my girlfriends birthday, I looked back at my boring gift in comparison to the year before. In 2015, I secretly booked tickets to her favourite artist, and kept it a secret for three months. I told her that the artist was in The Netherlands, but the concert was sold out. At her birthday two months later I only asked her to hold the day free. During her birthday we first went shopping in Utrecht, and then I told her we will go to a sushi bar in Amsterdam. When I proposed it she got suspicious… WHY SUSHI IN AMSTERDAM? But in the train to Amsterdam everything fell into place. When she opened the gift, she had the biggest smile I had ever seen. The rest of the evening was so cool… And yet in the next year, I had boring gift, that was as expensive as 2015.
That made me think about gifts. Why don’t we all spend time giving personal experiences to someone? The answer came pretty quickly. It is a LOT of work. Plan a date, keep it a secret. Find a cool outing.
And that’s how the adventure began. Because everything I created I had already tested and built myself.
Tell us a bit about your startup.
We want to bring people closer together, by helping them show more gratitude for the loved ones that are surrounding them. At first we ask you to secretly invite someone for a self-planned outing or activity.
If you can go back in time, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing. It was all a learning experience. Finding the right product, finding the right message. Okay, ONE THING. Don’t focus your marketing on ‘big deadlines’ like Mother’s day, or Valentines day. You can’t iterate on those results, since it is only happening once a year, and those periods are expensive to operate in. Better find a stream of recurring business. Like we now do on birthdays. Tomorrow there will be another person having a birthday. Another chance to make someone use our invitation experience as a gift starter.”
What advice would you give to an early stage entrepreneur? A thing you wanted to know when you started off?
Use Slicing Pie. Keep external money off the table as long as possible, as long you are not yet in the phase of recurring sales. Yes, you need to do a side hustle to keep your company afloat, but at least you can decide yourself when you end it. And shares are measured by effort.
How do you see your idea in 10 years?
We have created a technology that will bring people together in the real world, creating unforgettable experiences and most importantly: strengthen the bonds with family, friends, and even other cultures and ways of living. We have a platform that make people feel that if you are grateful for each others talents and presence, you can change the world together faster than ever. Change things by surprise.