The failure it takes to build a successful company

In Newsby Ashley Hofmann

Building a successful company means facing many challenges and at times, failing. But every failure is a lessoned learned. Last Thursday’s Energy Talks&Drinks where all about the failures it takes to build a successful company. Joop Roodenburg, President at Huisman and Peter Madlener, Founder at Viktor, shared their failures and fuckups when launching new technologies and growing their companies.

Peter Madlener – Failures create opportunities
Being a welder at the age of 16, Peter was sent back to school by his father who noticed he wasn’t happy in his current profession. But was he not failing by quitting his job? He took it as an opportunity to start something new, driven by personal ambition completed multiple degrees over a period of 9 years.

He eventually graduated at the Technical University in Delft in 2012. Together with his co-founder Wouter Riedijk he started MOCS. They won several prizes but had difficulties landing a customer. The market was changing, there company was running out of cash,  had no work but still several people employed. They had to change roles from engineers, being in love with their technical product, to becoming entrepreneurs selling a product meeting customer demand.

They had to discover what their added value is in the market. Peter: ‘value lies at the heart of success and a lack of value is a fundamental pillar to failure’. And so VIKTOR was born: an online platform to develop applications that automate engineering processes. It even led to a unique collaboration of competitors in the civil construction industry.

What are the lessons learned?

  • Turn your knowledge into assets
  • Make investments on the right moment that matches company value
  • Look for the right market/buy signals
  • Have faith in the ability to scale

‘The prettiest flowers grow at the edge of the cliff. If you are afraid to fail, you will never be able to pick those flowers.’

Joop Roodenburg – Living on the edge
Joop entered the business in 1980 through a joint project by ITREC and Huisman. With no plan or preparations, he just jumped in the water and see if he could swim. A young pioneer with a passion for technique and innovations. Together ITREC and Huisman integrated many innovative features in the first crane vessel but forgot to request variation orders along the way which brought him on the verge of bankruptcy. But he managed to keep his head above water.

During the oil crisis in 1986, Joop managed to create an opportunity out of the low oil prices by broadening Huisman’s horizon to the leisure industry. The advantages of Huisman’s experiences in heavy lifting techniques, resulted in the supply of various powerful leisure park rides developed by Vekoma.

In the nineties Huisman started to extend abroad to the Czech Republic and the US and continued to do so in 2007 to China and in 2012 to Brazil. With the upcoming Chinese market, it was a bit of a risk to open a production facility but “if you can’t beat them, join them”. In Brazil this move turned out less fortunate because the production location over there never made the opening due to corruption that held the country in its grasp.

Back in Schiedam things remain dynamic. The continuation of activities by Huisman in the Wiltonhaven is threatened by political regulation. Was moving from Rotterdam to Schiedam maybe not such a good idea after all? But despite all the setbacks, Joop remains curious, ambitious and willing to take risks. Even after the failure of Tocardo he remains positive and a driving force of innovation. Especially towards young pioneers, for whom he established the Buccaneer: a place for energy & offshore innovation to flourish, materialize and become impact.

Success or fuck-up? If you don’t try, you will never know.

The next Energy Talks&Drinks will take place on March 5, 2020 from 17:30 – 19:00 hrs.

Peter Madlener
A maritime entrepreneur graduated from TU Delft in Maritime Technology Ship and Offshore Structures. Since his graduation he co-founded four companies. The first start-up MOCS develops smart solutions in engineering industry. In 2013, he co-founded FWD that supplies fiber reinforced plastic bridges, but eventually it was acquired by other company. In the meantime, another two companies have been established. Peter also founded CODURE which provides fitting systems for Cured-in-Place pipes and VIKTOR which is an Automated Engineering Platform.

Joop Roodenburg
Graduated from TU Delft in Mechanical Measurement and Control Engineering. Nowadays president at Huisman, one of the world leaders in crane manufacturing. In 2013, the Buccaneer was founded by Joop Roodenburg. As an established entrepreneur, offshore expert and a developer of innovative technologies himself, Joop Roodenburg envisioned a place where he could pass on his drive and passion for innovation to the next generation of entrepreneurs.