AlphaBeats: We’re now plugged in to LUMO Labs’ global network of innovators and investors
Interview with Han Dirkx and Jur Vellema, Founders of portfolio company AlphaBeats
After they successfully completed HighTechXL’s venture building program, AlphaBeats co-founders Jur Vellema and Han Dirkx felt more than a little trepidation entering LUMO Labs’ intensive two-year accelerator program, after receiving a substantial seed round from the LUMO Fund II.
Would there be pressure to meet unrealistic goals? Or would it be the opposite … would LUMO Labs managers be passive and inattentive? Babysitters, as Jur puts it.
Getting in the LUMO Labs program had not been easy, but it has proven worthwhile.
“I remember our first talks when we were on opposite sides of the table, and that got me a bit scared because they were actually negotiating pretty fiercely,” Jur said. “Which is normal, of course. And then the meeting afterwards, when we had signed our papers, that completely changed. That was a revelation to me because I felt like now we’re companions. And not only that, we’re now together in this process. “So that was a turnaround for me.”
The reality of LUMO Labs turned out to be structured and demanding but based on trust. “They leave you alone, but you can always call them when you have an issue,” Jur said. “We’re lucky to have that relationship. But it’s a matter of confidence … confidence on both sides.”
AlphaBeats uses neurofeedback technology developed at Philips and implicit learning to lower stress. Using your own smartphone, which detects your stress level, and listening to your own favorite music, the algorithm uses biofeedback signals to improve music fidelity.
Users can relax by listening to their own tunes. It’s a simple way to relieve stress, something the entire world could use right now. Which matches perfectly with LUMO Labs’ mission of developing tech to solve social challenges while yielding a return for LUMO investors.
The AlphaBeats team has been through a venture builder/accelerator where they came together as a startup. These next two years at LUMO Labs will be their finishing school, positioning them for a significant Series A round of financing.
“They have this one goal, and that is to prepare us for our next round of financing, along with a comprehensive impact statement”, Jur said. With different development phases come different people. At this point, they’re getting week-to-week guidance as they work through various program evaluations.
Founding Partners Andy Lürling and Sven Bakkes are in the LUMO offices, and they connect to a huge network, Han said. “And of course, they direct us to domain experts.” One hundred days into that process, they’ve gotten direction from a varied cast. “There’s a whole team,” Jur said,” and they all have their specific talents.”
Those include Andy, Sven, Thomas and Per in Eindhoven, Bastiaan den Braber in Los Angeles and impact manager Britta Gruenig Castelli in Zurich. The domain experts are just a sample of Andy’s and Sven’s immense network.
“If we just address all the contacts, especially Andy’s, then it’s enormous,” Jur says. “I mean, he has a way of talking us into new collaboration and partnerships that make quite a difference.”
The AlphaBeats team has a vision of where they want to be in five years, and LUMO Labs domain experts help refine the path to getting there. LUMO Labs supports AlphaBeats by creating a strict roadmap with clear milestones. “We know what we have to deliver at the end of this quarter, the next quarter and even at the end of this year,” Jur said. “They are ambitious but attainable goals.”
While it’s early in the program, they have already changed some of their strategies, including shifting focus from consumers to B2B “so you don’t need to have your own marketing campaign,” Han said. “That’s the goal … to be like Intel. You don’t see any ads from Intel itself. It’s always partners, which is pretty clever.
“Instead of ‘It’s Intel inside,’ ‘It’s AlphaBeats inside.’ And I would say that’s our biggest change … focusing solely, or almost solely, on B2B, instead of producing our own.”
So far, AlphaBeats’ accomplishments include:
• SXSW Pitch finalists: AlphaBeats was one of 40 startups selected from more than 500 applicants. It was the perfect venue for AlphaBeats to take the stage. And while they didn’t win their category, it was a great experience pitching against other ambitious startups and making international connections.
• Building their own IP portfolio atop the Philips technology to have more tech assets – and leverage – in the future.
Jur and Han agree working at LUMO Labs is different than either of them expected. “I’m actually positive, more positive than I would have guessed,” Jur said. “And that has all to do with the network. And all the specialists they have gathered around.”
Andy and Sven always tell them, when they’re ready, they’ll hook them up with their investor networks. Jur said: “Andy says, ‘Just say the word,’ and Andy delivers every time.”
In the second quarter, the team will be ready to totally focus on the AlphaBeats beta, and – by the end of the year – have between 500 and 1,000 people using their app. That will give them ample data to perfect a final version, which they’ll validate with partners.
“Our goal is to eradicate by 2030 stress as the health epidemic of the 21th century,” Han said. “That’s a big, big goal. The question is how, of course, because there are many, many routes leading us to that.”