A platform that makes experiences unique with personalization.
Mario Kempken (22), a student from South Africa, was looking for an environment where he could explore and develop his project: BTLR, an exclusive lifestyle manager that hyper-personalizes your experiences. During his search, he found the START program. He contacted Novel-T, and two days later, he flew to The Netherlands to join START. Mario: “I was impressed by the vibrant and professional environment of Novel-T.” Now, five months later, Mario is still working on BTLR in The Netherlands.
FORCED TO WORK ONLINE IN THE NETHERLANDS
When Mario arrived in The Netherlands, the corona pandemic was getting drastically more severe by the day. A few days after this arrival, the borders closed, and the University of Twente went into lockdown. Luckily Mario had a German passport, which allowed him to stay. “I thought since I am here now, I will find a way to get my project out there,” tells Mario. He managed to finish the online START program and started building his network in The Netherlands through online meetings and connections on LinkedIn.
VALIDATION IN THE PROGRAM
Mario did a lot of validation during START, but after the two-month program, there was no product and no concrete product-market fit yet. His vision, to increase the world service quality, was inspiring, although translating that vision into something tangible was a bit more complicated. “Many people did not understand my vision, which was a huge struggle. However, it did not stop me from improving and telling my story,” tells Mario.
COMBINING SENSATIONAL EXPERIENCES WITH HYPER-PERSONALIZATION
After the START program, Mario had spoken with multiple luxury hotels and supercar dealerships to build sensational experiences for his platform. However, he found out that these experiences were not exclusive or unique enough. Mario: “A dinner on a rooftop at the U-park hotel with a private orchestra might be extraordinary for me, but if you are accustomed to experiencing this, it’s not sensational.” Customers needed something more. That’s when Mario came up with the personalization element. “If you personalize sensational experiences, you add an extra dimension to it,” explains Mario. That is when he created BTLR (pronounced as ‘butler’), a platform designed to understand your lifestyle preferences and hyper-personalize your experiences.
The concept of personalization is already applied in practice, mainly within the marketing world, but Mario believes it is as applicable and probably even more relevant in the service industry. Mario: “If coffee shops and hotels can access your preferences, you can feel at home on the other side of the world. At the moment, Mario is testing an algorithm based on psychological metrics, intending to make technology more human. “I believe that the future of luxury is personalized,” states Mario. Mario’s next step is to test his beta version to prove the value of BTLR. Mario: “If you like the idea of living a hyper-personalized lifestyle, then test it now. In exchange for registering for our Beta program, we will give you a year’s free premium access to BTLR.”
PRACTICE ENTREPRENEURSHIP LIKE SPORT
Mario started with the project of BTLR because he wanted to do something meaningful and fun at the same time. “I cannot live with the thought that someone else might execute this idea, while I have such a strong feeling that this might be something good,” explains Mario. Lately, Kempken had a meeting with Joe Pine, the founder of the experience economy, who told him he created something exciting. For Mario, this was an extra motivation to continue with BTLR and have even more faith in his idea. Mario likes to share his advice with other young entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurship is like a sport, you have to practice it every day. Also, keep in mind that the fear of being unsuccessful should not be greater than the love of succeeding.”
Are you a student with an innovative idea that you want to develop? Sign up for the START-program. Is your business idea already more mature, and are you curious about your business potential? Contact us.