Trendwatcher Lieke Lamb: Make sure your first sentence is clear!

Lieke Lamb is trendwatcher & futurist. She is managing partner at Future Agency and hosted the TEDxAmsterdamWomen Startup Award at the Google HQ in Amsterdam. We spoke her after the Awards and discussed finalists.

First of all, what is it exactly that a Trendwatcher does?
“I collaborate with governments and organisations, not necessarily on predicting the future, but merely on comparing visions for the future. What if this or that happens and what do we do in that situation? Do we need to make decisions? For this I need to make an index of what will happen in the future, meaning that I have to collect a lot of data. I meet with many different companies, read papers and researches, and I have a large network that I can draw from.

I actually never planned to do any of this, I always wanted to be a homemaker. When I met my husband he had just started his own company in consultancy during the time that internet started to really come up. He started getting asked by the government to give lectures and advice on the importance of internet. I kind of grew with him and I enjoyed working on the subject. I’m from a family of entrepreneurs, but I never had the intention to become an entrepreneur myself, I was just helping my husband realizing his dream.

But at one point we were asked for a lot of presentations on women’s business, and my husband asked me if I could do it. I feared it but decided I had to do it, also for our business. Before I knew it I was standing on a stage talking about the glass ceiling in front of at least 40 international female CEOs.”

What do you think of the nine startups that entered?
“They were all of a very high level. One of them,, works with artificial intelligence and comparing data, I just eat that right up. Right now that’s definitely the hot topic in the market; everything is possible, but what can we actually do with it? The same thing can be said of virtual reality; there’s a lot of innovation happening there at the moment. That was also a very interesting startup, Sono VR! You can see that those techniques are getting bigger and bigger.

Those two startups were my favorites, but that’s mainly because I work in the technical industry and it’s just very important to find useful applications. I thought ProKidDivorce was quite funny, as it is focused on conflict divorces, but the couple has to pay the bill together… I thoroughly enjoyed the two health focused pitches from MEDx and MOUNT. Personally, I find MOUNT very useful, to have certain steps to follow when meeting with your doctor, because sometimes it’s just so hard to remember everything that’s discussed. Also, you never really know how much time you have. Patients actually aren’t very well prepared, usually.”

And what about the three finalists?
“I really liked Plugify, although I did miss an explanation of how they are going to distinguish themselves from other booking agencies. I did think this initiative was very clever and sympathetic, because everybody knows the idea of wanting to book a band, but having no clue of where to start, and that’s where Plugify comes in. And for me MOUNT and really stood out because of their innovative concepts.”

Which advice would you like to give to the startups entering the Awards next year?
“Make sure your first sentence is clear! With some of the pitches today I had such a hard time understanding what exactly the concept was. I thought: “You are very enthusiastic, but what it is that you do exactly…?” That’s definitely an issue; you as the founder know all the ins and outs of your concept, so for you everything makes sense. But really try to start at the beginning and tell what your concept’s about. After that, tell us how you started and how awesome it is. Try to make it comprehensible on a children’s level.”