Name: Pieter Heersink
Occupation: Founder @ Tic Tag
Wakes up at night for: His kids, sushi and a good roadtrip.
We meet Pieter in his startup office. A big open room in central Utrecht. Inspired by our surroundings we talk about developing a new business, about Mercator Launch and Nijmegen as a city for entrepreneurs.
After graduating from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Pieter put his Business Administration degree to use working for an insurance company. The wind of change, however, came after ten years of employment. Pieter decided to become an entrepreneur. “I was done working for someone else. I also love to innovate, but I never had that Eureka idea.”
It’s not easy to generate a million-dollar idea, but Pieter was already on the right track. He noticed that loyalty cards of different shops have little to no effect on commuters commitment to the store or brand. “They are just annoying instead”, according to Pieter. Together with his business partner they addressed this problem by developing Kudoos-app, with a promotion program for retailers. Unfortunately, the partnership as well as Kudoos didn’t last. But there still was some undiscovered ground within Kudoos technology, felt Pieter.
With his new partner he continued working on it, until he found the way to replace QR codes, NFC chips and beacons by developing a unique 5-point identifier, or smart tag. A smart tag gives a product or a location a unique ID. A tag that end users can activate by touching it on their smartphone.
In retail, for example, the smart tag can be used to offer specific promotions or an unique experience to customers. “Because the smart tag registers that a customer is actually in the store at that moment”, explains Pieter. Still, there’s a larger market to discover, apart from retail. For instance, they already carried out their first project in the health sector.
Tic Tag is up and running, but it wasn’t an easy road. Constant search for funding and the right market is difficult and stressful, yet extremely important. You can not develop hardware without capital and you need the right fit marketwise to grow. “Being an entrepreneur is not easy. You are in a constant search of doing things right. I am still learning and I’m getting better at it.”
Basically, being an entrepreneur, is an never-ending rollercoaster ride. It can be quite overwhelming. That’s why Pieter advices entrepreneurial minds to find a good hobby (to empty your head). “I really enjoy gardening and working out myself”, says Peter. “It helps me to clear my head”.
Yet, Pieter also very much enjoys being an entrepreneur and the fact that his ideas actually becoming reality. That’s why he advices all the entrepreneurial minds to “Just do it. Be open to anything and make as many useful connections as possible. Be perseverant and learn how to recognize and avoid distractions”.
Then, what about Mercator Launch? Pieter gets even more enthusiastic. “I think it can be very useful for entrepreneurial minds. If experts are helping you and if you have access to exclusive events, it could help you so much to expand your expertise and your network. I think it could have been very useful for me as well, if I was still a student and a starting entrepreneur. It is important to connect with the right experts, but also with other startup founders. Learning from the experiences of others and getting the council you need can accelerate the process of building your business. Mercator Launch enables that!”