Simon van der Jagt

Learn, experience, learn. Knowledge lacks teeth when it is not applied. Only by experience, by applying, knowledge is re-fined and shaped as an effective tool.


Nowi is solving the power bottleneck in the Internet of Things with their Power Module. A simple chip that can be embedded in any device and thereby reduce the need for battery changes or impractical power cables. Instead, simply Plug & Forget.

Where did the idea for Nowi come from?

Nowi was founded on a very simple notion. New technologies always dissapoint. What we really meant is that often new technology has this tremendous potential for bettering the world but it generally falls short. Or it takes much longer than anticipated before it starts offering the benefits as were expected. This seems to be because of practical limitations that cause bottlenecks for large scale or cost effective implementation of the technology The Internet of Things is arguably one of the biggest technological developments of this decade and we saw the same thing happening. If we are deploying billions and billions of small connected devices, then how are we going to power them all? Nowi solves this bottleneck is thereby enabling the Internet of Things.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My role as CEO is first and first most that of a facillitator. Simple fact is that individually each team member is more skilled in their specific domain than I am. Simply telling them what to do and how to do it would for that (and others) reason not be effective. So my productivity can be measured to the extend that I am able to increase the team’s productivity. This is on the operational side.

On the strategic side there are really only a handful of decisions per year that matter. So I want to reduce the likelihood of being wrong on those as much as possible and reduce the potential downside in case I am wrong. The operational work then becomes staying on track to reach these strategic goals.

How do you bring ideas to life?

An idea becomes alive in your mind long before it does so in the real world. Being able to effecitvely convey an idea then becomes key as it might be several years in some cases before we will see it physically alive. Everyone involved should have a collective imagination. A belief of a future that can we can create. Once we share that belief the idea is alive.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The lowering cost and power consumption of satellite communication is bound to open up opportunities to remote locations lacking infrastructure.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Focus on what stands the test of time. It is easy to fill the week with meetings and quick to do’s that will give a satisfying feeling of productivity. But when you ask yourself “What will be the impact of this in the next year and in the next 3 years?” The answer is very often that it is in fact minimal. Long work weeks are often celebrated, but it is easy to be busy. Much harder to be focused on the few most important determining factors of success.

What advice would you give your younger self?

At 27 it seems early to be handing out advise. However, the following seems like fairly fail-safe advise: Learn, experience, learn. Knowledge lacks teeth when it is not applied. Only by experience, by applying, knowledge is re-fined and shaped as an effective tool.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Product-market-fit is not about where your product fits best, it is about where it fits FIRST. More than anything it is a matter of timing. Some markets will require more time to fully understand the problem your product is solving, others might have very slow product development cycles for example. Focus first on where your product can solve a problem the soonest, then later on where it might solve the biggest problem.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Rigorously search for truth. Whatever you believe, think or theorize, reality does not care. Reality can not change, only your perspective on it. Test your ideas technically, economically and socially and use all feedback from reality to re-shape ideas. Painful as this often can be.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Startups have marketing value. As an early-stage startup your product is not finished, this is why you are an early-stage startup. For corporates there is different value to be gotten from working with a startup at different stages. There seems to be spectrum from marketing value to product value on which you slowly move upwards. Use this, as it can offer dillution free capital to make the first few iterations while providing vital product feedback.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At a certain point we lost two types of near certain finacing streams out of nowhere. This pretty much meant we would be out of cash very very soon. Me and Omar Link (co-founder) both decided to take a bank loan and put this in the company as extra capital. Coming out of university to start a business is great since you have little to lose initially. However, at this stage having something to lose was precisely what we needed as it forced us to double down, focus and push even harder to succeed.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A specific idea is hard, only through trying and feedback you will get to the eventual concept. This can not be given away I think. Most useful would perhaps be to look at where we have a lot left to learn. In that process there are bound to be opportunties. Undoubtely one of those will be health. In many cases we know what happens but not on a fundamental level why and how it happens. Considering the strong desire for health and the massive amount of unknowns it seems ripe with opportunity.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

E-reader. I was one of the conservatives liking the smell of books and all that. However, I simply read more now then I did with physical books. It lower’s the treshold to stop in a certain book and switch to another book you feel like reading. Which is helpful as there is often an emotional barrier to not finishing a book you started.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Momentum plug in for Chrome. Everyday list what you need to get done if you did that it’s been a success. All else is just noise.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Siddharta“, specifically for the timeless view on self development and the need for experience to make knowledge useful

What is your favorite quote?

Ego is about who’s right. Truth is about what is right” – Mike Maples

Key learnings:

  • The importance of truth finding in building value
  • The importance of the application of knowledge to refine knowledge
  • The future of the Internet of Things


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