Catching up with a 2012 Winner


Two friends, one named Rino Stevens, were working on their graduation project at UtrechtInc. in the hundred day incubation program for their company ReFit, a real estate advisory consulting group for sustainability (now known as QwikSense). In true entrepreneurial spirit, immediately after this project was deemed successful, they went to the Chamber of Commerce to register the business that very day! UtrechtInc. is quite well-known for teaching entrepreneurs how to make pivots, or finding new hypotheses for the same problem. One might wonder if these experiences inspired the opening pitch for the winner of Startup Weekend Utrecht 2012 – GreenGame.


It’s really quite simple: all you had to do was Tweet about the sustainable actions you’d taken: taking the bike instead of the car, replacing halogen bulbs with LED lights, recycling paper instead of throwing it away, etc. At its core, the function of GreenGame is encouraging a person to take resource-saving actions, which actually him people real money. What’s more, customers could earn badges for community recognition, learn new ways to save from other players, as well as receive discounts offered by partners. As the customer base grew, it would become more attractive for utility management companies to work with GreenGame.


The team, including members Gregor van Egdom, Julien Lengrad-Lambert, Boudewijn Boon, Django Blok and Piotr Haber, was coached during the weekend. Instead of spending their time making the game fancy-looking, they would attempt to validate the concept of the business with customers. Some of GreenGame’s first tests for the concept involved going out on the streets of the shopping center with a pencil and paper. The team was able to successfully validate that there are people willing to pay for easy ways to save on energy costs; only then did they complete a lean version of the tool that actually works, a minimum viable product.

Since they were chosen by the jury as having won Utrecht’s competition for the most sustainable business idea, they got to take place in the Global Startup Battle with 137 other events in 60 other countries. That night, after they’d just dedicated themselves to a fifty-four hour frenzy, they had to make a pitch video of 90 seconds to compete against 1,000 others to gather the most votes from the public. Watch their video here.

Up for grabs was €25,000 of in-kind services from a range of companies like , a trip to Googleplex in San Francisco to meet with investors and a trip to Rio de Janeiro for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Check out the giant infographic from Startup Weekend for some additional stats on the competition.

Rino shared that one of the most valuable takeaways from participating in the weekend was to reinforce the lean launch process. As well, he could get mentoring on the steps to validate a business and its model, making sure that there are people available and prepared to purchase the product or service. Finally, the weekend gave him the opportunity to grow his professional network, a vital part of being a successful serial entrepreneur. In the months after SWU’12, Rino continued working on developing GreenGame. The project is on the shelf at the moment until he has the time to act further. Rino Stevens is currently busy as a co-founder of QwikSense – a real-time sensor solution for businesses and schools to improve their interior climate and save energy to make more healthy and productive people.