December 17, 2020

WorldStartup is Looking Back on 2020

And Forward to 2021

This year has been, to say the least, a remarkable year. Next to the impact of COVID19, we united the expertise of Outside Inc., Frank & the Backs, Dutch Coast and the former World Startup Factory with WorldStartup.

While a new winter has begun and it’s time to wrap up 2020, we like to take a moment during these turbulent times to reflect on the past year. Together with a few colleagues of the WorldStartup team we look back at our own personal experiences. 

This Year’s Challenges

As Daniel - Director WorldStartup Lab - mentioned, "It was definitely a challenge to align all teams during this merger, with everyone working from home." As a result, it appeared to be a lot more difficult to be aware of all the things that were happening within the organisation. 

And to be completely honest, these sudden changes because of the lockdown caused some stressful times for all of us. How are we going to survive as an organisation and keep ourselves together if COVID changed the rules of the game completely?”. Indeed, we’ve had our struggles from time to time, but we stayed positive and tackled the challenges head on, Mathijs - Managing Director WorldStartup stated.

For Egbert - Co-founder of our new daughter company Frank & the Backs and Chief Startup Officer WorldStartup - for example, working with action lists made it easier to stay on the same work level as before. It is a pitfall for everyone to do the easy tasks first, because it will make the difficult tasks even more difficult to do.

"Start your day with the tough tasks first and the rest of your day will be easier." - Mark McCormack

Working from home came with digital challenges. Merel - Community and Communications Lead WorldStartup - was struggling with the question “How do we maintain and create a bond with our relations online?”. Online will never fully replace offline interaction. It’s hard to create the same trust relationship and bond among participants via for example Zoom calls, but creating more structure and finding the right balance in frequency to keep up the engagement level of our community was key.

Alwin - Innovation Architect Outside Inc. - was asking himself the question “What’s my/our added value in a digital form?”. By finding out what is digitally possible, we are now Miro experts and giving workshops online feels completely natural.

One thing we paid more attention to was looking for ways to keep in touch with each other. Ellen - Office Managersetup a weekly Stand Up online, to see what everyone was up to. “I also tried to check in with everyone on a personal level, to see how everyone was doing during the lockdown”. It may sound very simple, but it’s far too often overlooked. Paying attention to your own work-life balance and time management became more important than ever.


"If you see the glass as half empty, you’re going to have a difficult time and it may defeat you." - Egbert Ottevanger


Luckily, 2020 was not all bad news. First of all, these digital opportunities brought some advantages with them.

Merel mentioned that COVID19 has accelerated our digital transition and moved many activities to the digital space. The world has become smaller and it’s much easier to work together with organisations on a global level worldwide. Once we accepted that this was the new reality, that’s when the good things started to happen. More new clients, startups and partners across the world. 


"When you’re past the stage of denial and resistance in a crisis and you’ve accepted the situation, that’s when creativity can start flowing and we can really look for ways to make things even better than they used to be." - Alwin Veldboom


The sudden shift towards digital working helped us to finally implement opportunities we’ve been seeing for a long time. As Daniel commented, "We’ve learned as a company how to work online and how to facilitate online workshops. This was something we were planning to do in the near future, but COVID really was our window of opportunity to develop it now."

Our society is blessed with an abundance of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. We can use the best of this to maintain and create a sustainable and resilient future. If we take action together, we can do what is needed. We can adapt!

Lessons Learned

This year gave us the opportunity to stand still for a second, reflect and develop ourselves. 

Mathijs looked back at 2020 and noticed that this company is like no other and we need to expand on that. “As a company (and as a person) we want to make a positive contribution to the change that is necessary for a liveable and sustainable world and this company has gained the knowledge to do this in a unique way.”

"We tend to always look forward, to set high goals and to ask a lot from ourselves. But when I look back at 2020, I realise we’ve achieved so many good things as a team!" - Merel Koolen


Furthermore, Ellen mentioned that it is very important to take a moment to celebrate your successes, look back on what you are doing and what brings you joy.

And we wish you to...


"Remember that there are no big ups without downs." - Mathijs Koper

"Find your moment and look on the bright side! It’s not all bad out there." - Egbert Ottevanger

"Invest in staying physically and mentally fit." - Alwin Veldboom

"Find the joy in your job!"  - Ellen Cammans

"Give more compliments to your colleagues. We are no robots that just execute the work." - Daniel Steginga

If we have learned anything from these conversations is that it is good to take some time and look back on this challenging year, to also see the positive things it has brought you. Try asking yourself these questions and it may surprise you how many positive things you are taking with you to 2021.

To sum it all up:

"Stay positive, keep up the good work and stay healthy!" - Merel Koolen


Many thanks to Daniel Steginga (Director WorldStartup Lab), Mathijs Koper (Managing Director WorldStartup, Founder World Startup Factory and Outside Inc.), Merel Koolen (Community and Communications Lead WorldStartup), Egbert Ottevanger (Co-founder of our new daughter company Frank & the Backs and Chief Startup Officer WorldStartup), Alwin Veldboom (Innovation Architect Outside Inc.), Ellen Cammans (Office Manager) for taking the time to look back at 2020.