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Betsy Lindsey with Aircision: A week in the non-stop life of an expat startup star

Week in the Life of a Startup: Former HighTechXL Investor Relations and Managing Director Betsy Lindsey joins startup Aircision.

Note: This article was originally published on Dispatches Europe. It is reposted here with permission.

When you talk about startup teams, the assumption is you’re talking about young people in their 20s. And in the United States, most of the time you are.

But here in Eindhoven, which is a deep-tech center, most HighTechXL teams mix young guns with seasoned engineers and financial professionals with serious credentials. Together, they navigate the non-stop startup lifestyle.

One of these startup “kids” on her third life is Betsy Lindsey, who’s joined one of HighTechXL’s most successful deep-tech teams at 49 years old.

Betsy, the former investor relations and managing director for HighTechXL, recently joined deep-tech venture team Aircision as CFO. Aircision is headquartered in the Startup Hub – High Tech Plaza – at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Before the Virginia native came to Eindhoven with her husband Niels, an executive at Philips, she had a corporate career with Silicon Valley Bank in Seattle. Now she’s seeing life from theside … experiencing the roller coaster ride from the perspective of an entrepreneur.

“The benefit of doing this when you’re older is that you know what’s important,” Betsy said.

As they get traction, she and her Aircision teammates – Luis Oliveira, Dr. John Reid and Edzard Janssens – are increasingly on the road across Europe, whether its Tech Tour in Essen or the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. Then, there are the everyday tasks and endless meetings as they develop devices using free optics laser beam technology as a communication link in 5G and telecommunications.

In a startup, “you have to be tolerant of a certain level of chaos … you have to be accepting of the chaos,” Betsy says. “I think that’s why the startup life isn’t for everyone.”
Betsy easily matches the energy levels of HighTechXL personnel half her age. A financial expert, not an engineer, she’s a proud extrovert who can network with the best of them at the big tech and startup events that are de rigeur for connecting Aircision to investors and potential customers.

Europeans are reserved “and I catch them off-guard a little bit because I’ve learned to be more extroverted as I’ve worked on three continents,” including a stint in Hong Kong.

“I have to be honest – I’m okay with networking at big events. That’s my superpower,” Betsy says.

“If I can make people feel at ease when I meet them, I end up getting a lot of resources out of these networking events.”
In the startup game, you have to be on your game so you can take advantage of opportunities when they come, Betsy said. Working in Europe rather than the United States has its advantages, chiefly in that teams are more likely to get breaks in the action.

She uses more frequent holidays and seasonal breaks to make use of the quiet moments to get things done.

The biggest adjustment moving from corporate to a startup has been the lack of direct support and access to resources she enjoyed at large multi-nationals. The essence of working in a startup is that it’s all up to you, Betsy said.

That said, there’s a sense of camaraderie missing from the corporate world, “which at Aircision we have in spades,” she added.

There is a sense of karma in the startup world “where you feel like helping other people helps you,” Betsy said:

It’s not pure altruism. It’s survival, because the bigger your network, the better. I can see trends coming because through interaction with other startups. You hear stories. You can feel the trends bubbling up.
The startup world keeps you vital because you have to be on your toes, she said.

“I feel like I’m always learning. It keeps you young.”

We’re posting excerpts from Betsy “Week in the Life of a Startup,” with her insights and goings-on as she enters the fast lane of startup life with 10-month-old Aircision.

Betsy Lindsey on the way to Tech Tour in Essen, Germany.

Planes, trains and automobiles … oh my!

Monday 9 December: I am on my way to glamorous Essen to take on 175 companies and 150 investors for Tech Tour. It’s a little intimidating, but hey, it’s startup life!

Investing is like a marriage. Now, I am at the reception, and there is that awkward single guy … waiting for a dance. The coaching prep was helpful yesterday because it helped me bring my best today. Thanks, Christophe BODIN! 

‍The speed dating sessions have been particularly fruitful. Awards presentation coming up. With 150 companies at such a high quality event, it would be a miracle if we won.

Tuesday, 10 December: The week of 9 December was an undoubtedly crazy week for Betsy Lindsey, Aircision CFO and new #entrepreneur, as she documented her activities for the series Week in the Life of a Startup:

I spent two days in Essen for Tech Tour, pitching to a room full of #investors and networking two days straight … which is HARD, people. On Wednesday and Thursday, it was follow-up from Monday and Tuesday and preparing for the pitch for #XLDay on Friday.

Fact: It’s harder to pitch in front of people you know than in front of people you don’t know! The truth? Not my best pitch.

‍Wednesday, 11 December: Day 3 of my transformation into an #entrepreneur. It’s easy to throw exercising under the bus. It’s hard to be at every event you need to attend while maintaining some semblance of balance with family life.

Today started with a stress-reducing workout and quickly moved into pitch practice with Frank Smallegange preparing for #XLDay tomorrow. For the first time, I’m center stage … scary. Always in the background is my greenhabit BV “conscience,” nudging me toward a healthy lifestyle. Some days are easier than others. Startups never take a break, but luckily, corporates at the other end of the line don’t call as much over the holidays.

Winners from XL Day on December 13, 2019. From left: Helen Kardan, ASML, Most Valuable Mentor; Hilde de Vocht, Most Valuable Partner; Betsy Lindsey, Most Valuable Entrepreneur.

BUT, I was honored to win Most Valuable Entrepreneur from Guus Frericks at the XL Day event. I call this my book-end award. I won Most Valuable Mentor in 2015 just before starting as investor relations lead at HighTechXL and ended with the MVE. It was the perfect ending to a whirlwind week. Startup life in the fast lane.”