On February 8th 2018, I visited the blockchain conference of APG and PGGM in Amsterdam. Afterwards, there were contacts with several people about our mutual interests. A lot of people found my ideas interesting. They create connection, so they said. Several people drew my attention to the Brightlands incubator programme on the Campus in South Limburg. They said it could be of added value in bringing my ideas to the market. I had never heard of Brightlands before, but my interest was aroused. And now I can say: it has changed my life completely!
After the blockchain conference in Amsterdam, I started looking for the Brightlands Campus and found the right track via-via. After an intensive selection procedure, the final selection for the Brightlands Innovation Factory on the Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen followed at the end of 2018. Together with other selected people from various countries, we started the incubator programme of a total of 5 years. At the end of 2018 and in the beginning of 2019, we lived together in the former Watersley Monastery. From the start I found that very impressive; the building ‘breathes’ history. This article explains living at Watersley and the programme at the Brightlands Campus.
On Friday November 16th 2018 in the afternoon I arrived at Watersley. It was quite cold and it was already starting to get dark. Watersley is not a holiday park but a place for young talented athletes to reach great heights in peace and quiet and with the right guidance. For example, Watersley aims to guide those young athletes to the Olympic Games. In addition, they have agreed with the Brightlands Campus to also accommodate talented people with business ambitions.
It took some time to find the central place to pick up the key. But luckily, there was a so-called light-night-run on the 16th of November in the afternoon/evening. There were plenty of people busy with the preparations. The light-night-run is a course through the woods and hills of the Watersley grounds, with obstacles and fire effects etcetera at various places. That first evening I registered for and participated in this light-night-run. That was a good start of my stay at Watersley.
My room at Watersley was very basic without any kind of luxury. There was a simple bed, a simple wardrobe and a small desk. In the corridor were the showers and there was a common living room with a kitchen. So all the necessities were there and from the beginning I felt completely comfortable in this place.
In the following days, my fellow residents from Russia, Latvia, Finland, Greece, Brazil and Spain arrived. Everyone had his/her own business ideas with totally different topics. One was in water, another did something with face recognition, another with nano chemical particles and yet another with 3D printing. It was a mixed group with English as the main language. We had all been selected by Brightlands and would be working together for a longer period of time.
I had taken my bicycle with me and every day the early morning route from Watersley to the Brightlands Campus was a lovely half-hour ride. On the way back via the centre of Geleen or Sittard, it was also enjoyable and just plain fun to do. You have nice restaurants where it is pleasant and good food. Also the take-away at toko Bopp or somewhere else were nice trips.
Via the owner of Watersley, a top-notch entrepreneur and just a super nice guy, we got tickets for the Fortuna Sittard football matches. The walking, cycling and running through the hills in the beautiful surroundings were healthy and nice to do. Visiting different places such as Doenrade, Schinnen, Merkelbeek, Windraak, Brunssum, Heerlen, Oirsbeek and Amstenarade was fun. I regularly visited a nice café or restaurant; sometimes with my fellow residents and sometimes alone.
Watersley’s location is beautiful. In a quiet spot on the outskirts of Sittard near Munstergeleen. The hills, the wooded area and the steep slopes made it complete. It gave me an enormously relaxing feeling. Especially when, after a few months, I was left on my own. My international fellow residents went back to their home countries. I stayed at Watersley and enjoyed my peace and quiet. Sometimes other residents came and stayed for a short period.
I had contact with an ice hockey team from Denmark, with people from South Africa and with talents from the mountain bike and volleyball world, among others. Sometimes there were activities at Watersley such as an obstacle run or a mountain bike race. I was happy to participate as a volunteer. The periods when nobody else was there were also pleasant. There was a lot of peace and quiet and space to work out the various ideas. It brought me a lot. The intensive programme on the Campus allowed me to process and embed it in my ideas.
I ended up staying at Watersley for a year and it was a wonderful period in my life. I enjoyed it and learned a lot, especially about myself.
At the Brightlands Campus things were very different than at Watersley. Whereas living at Watersley was relaxing, at the Brightlands Campus it was a fast-paced process. Brightlands is a meeting place for college and university students, multinationals, investors, start-ups, scale-ups and entrepreneurs. Innovation with international growth potential is central: after all, ‘knowledge crossing the borders’ is the slogan of Brightlands.
The first two months on Campus were very intensive. Every day we had master classes on super interesting topics:
- Design thinking to break down big goals into small steps (think big, act small)
- Framing to observe aspects from different perspectives
- Visualisation to make concepts and ideas visual in the simplest way possible
- Value creation, adding value to your customer
- Storytelling, being able to articulate the story behind your ideas well
Business Model Canvas
All master classes were dominated by the Business Model Canvas. Who is your customer? What does it do? What needs does it have? What value do you deliver? What activities do you do, with which team and what are the costs? What is your earnings model? How do you guarantee the added value? Etcetera.
In the intensive master classes, the answers to the above questions were visualised around your business plan in nine building blocks on one A4 sheet in a well-defined canvas. Every week, everyone presented his/her progress and the corresponding Business Model Canvas to the rest of the group. That was very instructive and interesting. Sometimes it was also difficult because all the positive critical comments sometimes made you doubt. But that, getting out of your comfort zone, was exactly the intention.
With the input, questions and remarks we received plus the learning material from the other master classes, we then went to work again. Every week, every day, every hour, it was a super intensive period but definitely very instructive. It improved your Business Model Canvas and it became increasingly clear what you do, for whom and with what value, and there is also a scalable earnings model behind it. An important topic was GOOTB: Get Out Of The Buiding! In other words: validate your Business Model Canvas with your potential customers and/or your network in the market. The broad Brightlands network could be used for this purpose, and parties in the network were open to hearing new initiatives, reviewing them and contributing critical ideas.
Hugo Delissen, business development manager startups at Brightlands Chemelot Camus, characterised SixBlocks solution as follows:
“SixBlocks solution has developed a software platform for the huge problem of managing change in the complex software landscape of companies. When we started supporting founder Joost de Wit at Brightlands, he thought in technical solutions, but very quickly developed into an entrepreneur by focusing on the customer’s problems. This led to the creation of an excellent team, the establishment of good partnerships and the start-up of the company. SixBlocks solution is a company with the potential to scale up to a fast-growing scale-up.”
Watersley and Brightlands summary
In summary, it was a very interesting period in my life. In the end, I lived in Watersley for a year and was always present at the Brightlands Campus. I am still there regularly now. And I can honestly say: it has enriched my life both professionally and personally; it has made me a better person. Moreover, during that intensive period I found two partners; the three of us will be responsible for the further development and roll-out of SixBlocks.
Business Rules Canvas
Prior to the Brightlands programme, the concepts of the six blocks of SixBlocks were already clear. Moreover, they had already been proven in practice in tough consultancy assignments at large organisations. The subsequent inspiration from the combination of Watersley, Brightlands and the Business Model Canvas enabled us to evolve SixBlocks into the Business Rules Canvas.
The Business Rules Canvas can be compared with the Business Model Canvas. Where the Business Model Canvas is one A4 sheet for all business models, the Business Rules Canvas is one for all business processes.
In the period after Watersley and the Brightlands programme, we worked hard with SixBlocks on the visualisation of the Business Rules Canvas. The right terms and the right connections were added to the various building blocks. This was an instructive and intensive process. We are extremely proud that we have realised the Business Rules Canvas and that it has now been validated in the market.
The Business Rules Canvas is not only a powerful philosophy for business processes. It is also fun. See the article ‘What do Bob Ross and the Business Rules Canvas have in common?“. Also read how Johan Cruijff inspired us to write “14 Cruijffianish sayings about SixBlocks“. With this fun and inspiration, we explain in the article “The road to an inspiring mission and vision” what we stand for and with which core values we do so.
In the following articles, we will elaborate on all aspects of the Business Rules Canvas. We want to inspire people and organisations to get a grip and an overview of their own business processes. If you cannot wait and want to know more now, please contact us.