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Terry Boyd
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ExperienceXL opens the door to diverse crowd as intro to deep-tech venture building

ExperienceXL is in the books, and it turned out to be a big deal. This multi-event day started with an introductory Info Session for prospective co-founder considering HighTechXL’s venture-building approach, which brings together talent and tech.

More than 100 attended ExperienceXL, some experiencing all the activities of the day.

Info Session

We kicked off the day with a detailed Info Session briefing from Joris Jansens, HTXL technology scout, on the technologies and program details. Then, team members from several HighTechXL alumni, including inPhocal and Alphabeats, talked about their experiences, high points and frustrations with startup life.

You can’t say they weren’t candid in their descriptions of startup life – demanding, with constant decisions about the way to move forward.

HighTechXL founder Guus Frericks, now the CEO of DeepTechXL, talked about his own startup journey that included a brush with near bankruptcy until he sold to a Silicon Valley tech giant.

He told prospective co-founders if they think the process is going to smooth out as the startup matures … it doesn’t. “The bigger your company grows, the bigger your problems. You need to adjust. You think it will get more stable. It won’t. But it’s fun.” But if you love the excitement of startup life, “it says a lot about you.”

Han Dirkx, Alphabeats CEO, described the various phases of the venture builder program – nine months in duration in 2019 – then talked about how Alphabeats started at HighTechXL with neurofeedback technology developed at Philips. Alphabeats then pivoted toward building an app and EEG device that helps elite athletes improve their mental performance.

In the Q&A session, most of the questions were related to IP and were highly detailed.


After the Info Session, some of the attendees broke into groups for FasTrackathon, the reverse-hackathon designed to guide attendees through a program, to explore four technologies and one challenge, including:

  • Radar technology
  • Spectral technology
  • Fiber sensor technology
  • Streaming 3D video technology
  • Port of Amsterdam hydrogen challenge

Joris said he was impressed by the mix of people, both in tech abilities and market backgrounds. “It was remarkable how they just took off immediately into the creative process without being constrained. The group was “a mixed bag, but almost all had tech backgrounds in their careers. But it was good the technical people didn’t limit the rest.”

Boudewijn Docter, a startup veteran himself who founded EFFECT Photonics, said the group he moderated in spectral technology was a diverse group. “The FasTrackathon is the perfect showcase because you can really explore the different applications,” said Boudewijn, who is HighTechXL’s Chief Growth Officer. Sometimes group members dived deep into their specialties. “We had one guy from the semiconductor industry who said, ‘Look, I think for the semiconductor manufacturing equipment, this could be great technology.’” 

HighTechXL CTO Earl Goetheer, who’s a physicist, was moderator for the Port of Amsterdam Hydrogen Challenge. What Earl enjoyed the most was that after he answered technical questions, the group members started to think for themselves “and even question some of the things I said. Really, for me, that was quite enjoyable … and I hope for them as well.”

The only thing Earl said he would’ve changed is there should have been sweets on the table “because the questions get better with the presence of chocolate and candy. It’s proven!”

Boudewijn noted that two fairly developed concepts came out of his panel, “and we’ll work on those going forward.”

HealthTechXL Job Fair

Following FasTrackathon was the HealthTechXL job fair, where several new teams talked to potential co-founders curious about joining a venture. More than 40 attended the job fair, and team feedback was positive, with several starting the process of building their teams to go through the program.

And last but not least, the networking and drinks were off the charts. The office was positively buzzing with conversations and connections.

ExperienceXL was a perfect event to showcase all the things we do at HighTechXL. We build deep-tech ventures that solve grand societal challenges. It all starts with a desire to learn more about the program, the breakthrough technologies and many opportunities to dive into startup life. It all starts with you.

Learn more about HighTechXL

If you’re interested in getting involved in the deep-tech venture-building world as a co-founder, mentor or business advisor, check out our Get Involved page.

If you loved the FasTrackathon and have expertise in Microelectronics, we have a Tech Briefing coming up December 8th. The Tech Briefings are only for co-founders who have joined the co-founder pool and have started the process to (potentially) join a team. The first step is filling out our entrepreneur questionnaire, followed by an interview. Learn more details here.  

To see career opportunities within HighTechXL or other venture teams, check out our Careers page.