Steven Nelemans

Venture Advisor

I still take a peek in every Amber car I see driving and feel a little proud when I see a face I don’t recognize.

During my last year in high school I accidentally built an electric motor.

During my last year in high school, I accidentally built an electric motor. Working on a project about a Perpetuum Mobile, my limited knowledge about physics convinced me I could find a possible new solution. Using coils, magnets, sensors, and months on building iterations, it turned out I had built an (already existing) electric motor. It was not only fun to do, but it also taught me a valuable lesson: if you just get started with an idea and keep on improving constantly, you will find something in the end that actually works.

The next five years after high school were all about pushing the boundaries of how much and how fast I could learn. I fast-tracked self-development, found out what I’m most passionate about and what I love to do. I started at the TU/e, took a year off for a student project, founded Amber, dropped out halfway through my bachelor’s, traveled the world, met amazing people and experienced the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.

The first ever pilot with Amber was without a shadow of a doubt the pinnacle of this period. This was the moment when we realized that – out of tireless efforts and conviction – we had created something that would have a real impact on people’s lives.

For me, impact is the most important value for any startup. If you’re not changing the lives of a group of people and our planet for the better, I don’t see the point in doing it.

I’m always curious to see what new products and propositions will be launched next. What will be the new world order for different industries in a couple of years and what companies will have impacted our daily lives in a positive way?

I am that person who gets up in the morning eager to get out of my comfort zone. Learning new things, pushing boundaries. And yes, admittedly that includes jumping off the highest bridges or trying the fastest motorcycles.

I guess this is why startup life suits me, especially that phase once the MVP is set. I love the terrifying excitement of the market-product validation of a potentially life-changing proposition. Raising your first round of investment, hiring and paying real people for real jobs, getting prepared to scale-up, seeing a random person using your product like it’s absolutely normal. It is the most surreal – yet at the same time – most real thing ever.

One of the things I learned going through that period myself is that mistakes are inevitable. At some point you will always fall short on knowledge, experience, network or “who-knows-what” to ace every single aspect of your journey.

It really comes down to being smart, thinking two steps ahead, not trying to fix everything on your own and never forgetting why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.

This will drastically reduce the number of crashes and detours. Just don’t assume you can or should be able to avoid them all. From my perspective, making it your sole priority to eliminate risk and avoid mistakes is probably the worst mistake any entrepreneur could ever make.

Not all that glitters is gold and the nuggets you find probably fit you best washed, mixed and melted.

I believe founders need to be able to deal with certain uncertainty, be prepared to be quick on their feet and to keep eyes, ears and minds open.

For a startup entrepreneur, being able to take advice is like owning the key to an inexhaustible gold mine. It is a massive advantage, and it is fun, but it is also mazelike and cavernous. Not all that glitters is gold and the nuggets you find probably fit you best when washed, mixed and melted.

Only on very rare occasions will I assume I can provide truths and absolute answers.

As a LUMO Labs venture advisor, my promise to founders is that I will always ask questions and push their boundaries, but only on very rare occasions will I assume I can provide truths and absolute answers.