Silver Starters chooses the most promising 50+ start-up

The final of Silver Starters took place on the 25th of March. Silver Starters is a free, Dutch  learning program that Leyden Academy and Aegon have set up for people over 50 who want to start their own company. No fewer than 83 enthusiastic participants completed the program and were inspired by the modules, lectures by experts and guidance by coaches. Eventually, five participants reached the final and gave an inspiring pitch, after which an expert jury chose the most promising idea and the digitally present audience also chose a winner. Both winners were awarded a prize package.

The winning ideas
The expert jury, consisting of Tineke Abma (director of Leyden Academy), Hendrik Halbe (CEO Unknown Group), Nadine Klokke (CEO Knab) and Arjan in ‘t Veld (Bureau Vijftig), was impressed by all the finalists but ultimately chose the idea for a lung function center of the 57-year-old Karin Lammering. Karin wants to make advanced lung function research accessible and affordable. Of course, especially given the current coronavirus, that is good news for people with lung problems, but also for general practitioners, practice assistants, sports doctors, companies, etc. Not only does the jury find her plan well thought out, they are also impressed by Karin’s thoroughness, who has already quit her job. “I believe in my idea and go for it with all my heart and passion,” says Karin. 55-year-old Willy de Heer became the convincing audience winner. With the help of a serious learning game she wants to help people understand each other and thus bring about behavioral change. This could include children who learn difficult or easy, autism, ADHD, depression or discrimination. According to Willy, you can help someone better if you understand him or her better. Click here to read the interview with Willy de Heer.

Participant perspective
The program provided the participants with tools to take a closer look at their idea, adapt it if necessary and convert it into their own company. “We also see a social benefit; participants feel more active, they are better prepared for their future and their self-confidence has increased ”, says program leader Jolanda Lindenberg. The enthusiastic responses show that the participants really appreciate Silver Starters: “The Silver Starters program was a great discovery. Acquiring knowledge and looking for opportunities at my own pace. It taught me to make a choice and to focus. This is partly thanks to valuable conversations with fellow participants and an expert coach.” “Silver Starters has made me realize that I have to focus primarily on the customer’s problem and not on my solution!”

From idea to company
Older entrepreneurs are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, not only in the Netherlands but also internationally. Despite this, there are hardly any start-up programs aimed at that target group. Leyden Academy, Aegon and Hands on Innovation therefore developed the free learning program Silver Starters. During the process, the participants gained insight into customer needs and wishes, revenue models, marketing and prototyping, and worked towards independent entrepreneurship with the help of a coach.

Leyden Academy and partners hope to organise Silver Starters again in 2022.