Get to know ACE startup founders & find out what drives them!
The ACE-List: We are proud and excited to introduce our awesome startup founders. The ACE-List is a regular installment where startup teams from the ACE Incubation Program introduce themselves and share a little insight into their startup journey!
Industry: Ed-Tech, SaaS
Founded in: 2018
Nxus is an online community and bias-free career platform for universities, and is founded on the belief of challenging the status quo regarding the hiring of young talent. Through the Nxus platform, certified student profiles are matched to job opportunities based on academics, knowledge and skills, thereby removing any potential biases from the hiring process.
How did you come up with your startup idea?
Being students in our final year at the time, we saw many fellow students struggle to find an internship or a job after graduation, as recent graduates are often asked to meet unrealistic job requirements set by employers for mere entry-level positions. This is all part of the much bigger problem of the mismatch and widening skills gap between education and the labour market.
Determined to find a solution, Niels analysed the market opportunities as part of his mandatory internship and, 14 hours after officially graduating himself, founded Nxus with the ambition to close this growing skills gap while offering equal job opportunities for students and graduates.
What is your company’s unique proposition?
Firstly, our integration with the university systems results in us working with only certified student data. Hereby students are matched to job opportunities based on their academics, knowledge and skills, where students see all the opportunities they actually qualify for and employers only get applications from students that match their stated job requirements.
This leads to our second proposition, namely, applying our skills-based algorithm to match quality young talent to job opportunities in an unbiased way, thereby removing name, age, race and gender from the hiring equation. #Simple. #Fair. #Match.
What has been your ACE moment?
We have been fortunate enough to validate our startup idea with many industry experts along the way, including campus recruiters, university dean’s, and perhaps most noteworthy, Annemarie Muntz, the managing director of global public affairs at Randstad. When all these experts cannot break your idea and instead encourage and promote it, you know you are on the right track.
That being said, we really felt like we were nailing it when we tested our platform with our end-users, a group of students from our launching partner university, with one student stating that “this is how LinkedIn should have been”. Now Nxus is often being seen as a LinkedIn for university students and alumni, but reading this statement gives the whole team goosebumps every time!
How has your academic background benefited you in running a company?
Being an entrepreneur is to learn by doing. Studying at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences thereby assisted in giving me a more hands-on approach mentality, which is definitely a must when running your own startup. Also throughout the writing of my thesis on the Brexit and its effect on London startups, later published by Co-Founder magazine, I gained a better understanding on what it truly takes to run your own startup in times of crisis and the risk-reward tradeoffs that come into play as an entrepreneur. Having this prior knowledge on startups and startup ecosystems would later prove very valuable when I founded Nxus.
How did the pandemic (positively or negatively) affect you in the past year?
When being confronted by the sheer amount of businesses that struggled last year, we try to remain humble in sharing that 2020 was a very good year for Nxus. We raised our second funding round amidst the first lockdown, grew the team with 2 developers and successfully signed our first launching university partner, meaning more than 20,000 students will soon have access to our platform.
The COVID-19 pandemic made universities quick to adopt the digitization of their education and thereby promote distance learning. These same universities are now starting to understand the effects on their students associated with distance learning, such as a lack of community and social interaction, and are looking for digital solutions for their community management, as well as for their career services.
What is the best advice you could give someone who wants to start their own business?
Not everyone is cut out to start their own business. It simply requires a lot of determination and endurance. That being said, the first thing you absolutely must have even before you start your own business is to really belief in your idea. Our second advice would be to then first validate your idea with your end-users following the principals set out in The Mom-Test (click link to free PDF) written by Rob Fitzpatrick, and try to approach industry experts for you to listen to their feedback and experience. Only after you have done these steps should you really consider starting your business. Good luck!
What are your next steps for the new year?
For 2021 Nxus will pick up where we left off last year. That is to focus on the launch of our platform with our launching university partner, and to continue our partnership talks with other universities and educational institutions. The best is yet to come!
How can someone who is interested in you or your startup contact you?
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