The Netherlands' start-up goes big!
It is all about team effort
Young CEOs of IT companies are not unusual these days and very inspiring for many. Twenty-nine years old Yannick Maltha, founder of UbiOps together with co-founder Victor Pereboom and Jorick Naber, has started a company that has created a high-end platform to run data science and machine learning applications in an easy to use and scalable way. What started with a small group of students looking for a solution to a data science case study has developed into a growing company with a team of 20 people today.
As a student of the Delft University of Technology, Yannick already has shown leadership qualities. He graduated with the highest degree (cum laude) for a Bachelor and Master and has been actively involved with the management of several student societies, as chairman for YES!Delft Students – a spinoff of the ecosystem of tech incubator and accelerator YES!Delft for entrepreneurial students.
His enthusiasm about entrepreneurship grew and evolved over the years. He was attracted to data science and data analysis and when he met his co-founder Victor it was time to establish his first startup.
Through the YES!Delft incubator program they came in contact with BAM, one of the largest construction companies in the Netherlands, who presented them with a case study on the most frequent occurring fault in the Dutch railway system: switch malfunctions. “I was also often a victim of those things, even for my exams when travelling from The Hague to Delft. [BAM] asked us,” Can you solve this issue by predicting when a switch malfunction is going to happen?”. Victor, Yannick, and a few other students agreed to dive into the problem and started building models of data science algorithms, which lead to the birth of their company, Dutch Analytics.
Yannick describes these early days as a possibility to “explore and build cool solutions for companies”. After the initial success with BAM, they began licensing their data science products to not only BAM, but also to other companies in the rail, maritime, food and automation industry.
With more customers asking for their analytics solutions, another challenge presented itself: the lack of a platform and a scalable system to run their models which are to be used for multiple different systems or uses. “Because at the end of the day, you don't want to analyze the condition for a single switch, but for thousands of switches in The Netherlands.”
The challenge to deploy, operate, govern and monitor data science and machine learning models is a common struggle for many companies. The need for a solution is how UbiOps came into existence about two years later. UbiOps is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that helps data scientists and engineers to bring their data science code into production with ease (see for more information www.ubiops.com).
Key lessons for future entrepreneurs
Along the journey of this promising team of young entrepreneurs several lessons were learned. One of them is to learn and accept advice from the numerous mentors who offer guidance to startups and entrepreneurs by sharing relevant experiences. “I think that is a really important element for me and actually to all co-founders. Do not always try to reinvent the wheel yourself if you are going to build your own company”.
A second lesson is to strive for balance. As the company grew, the founders were faced with the necessity to establish practical aspects of running a company, such as a clear management structure and communication processes. But also, active thinking about a good working environment, a pleasant company culture and a right balance between life and work for his colleagues. It is always a collective decision how to establish the roadmap for product features or how to tackle the next target. “Therefore, we have a very flat, open and sharing company culture. I think the best arguments should win, not the role that you play in a company, even for me as a CEO.”
The third lesson learned by Yannick is that “you should be able to identify what you are not good at” and hire people who excel at this. “I mean, I would say a soccer team doesn't have 11 Messi’s, right? One is the goalkeeper, the other the midfield player and another is giving the long passes. I think this is also how you should look at a team.”
Yannick and his partners have taken the best from both the academic and the real world. They are a fine example of students who matured into their role as CEO as they turned innovative ideas into successful and solid businesses.