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Startup Spotlight Neople: from electric cars to digital employees

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In the Startup Spotlight series, we’re exploring the exciting ventures that are tied to the JADS Playground. We sat down with Hans de Penning from Neople, an innovative software company that creates digital employees. Hans is an experienced in the startup world and founded several of them. Read on as we dive into Hans’ background, Neople’s evolution, and his perspective on the dynamic startup environment at JADS.

Can you tell me about your background?

“Sure, my name is Hans de Penning. I studied at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). During my time there, I was involved in a student team at TU/e, and a part of that team went on to start an engineering consultancy firm. From there, we ventured into Amber, an electric car-sharing service. After about 5 to 6 years, Amber was sold and merged with other companies.

Together with some others I felt the urge to explore something new. I already knew Job Nijenhuis from my time at Amber. Menno and Bas come from the conversational AI world, where they built chatbots for companies.
In January last year, we began Neople. Menno knew one of the initiators of JADS, and we used to meet in the basement for coffee, so we started at JADS. Initially, we spent four days a week in the basement. Eventually, we met Jonie and got an office space through the Playground. Now, we have a team of 26 people, and we’ve moved to the business section of the building.”

Can you tell me more about Neople?

“Neople is changing the workforce landscape by creating digital employees, essentially serving as a software company for digital workers. These AI agents are deployed within companies to enhance their customer service capabilities and gain deeper insights into customer behavior.

These digital employees act as virtual assistants, seamlessly integrating into company systems to provide real-time support and assistance with complex customer queries. By leveraging advanced artificial intelligence technologies, Neople’s digital employees can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover valuable insights and trends, enabling companies to make more informed decisions and deliver personalized experiences to their customers.
Furthermore, Neople’s digital employees serve as a bridge between company employees and customers, facilitating smoother communication and interactions. They can handle a wide range of tasks, from answering frequently asked questions to providing product recommendations and resolving customer issues.

Overall, Neople’s approach to workforce augmentation is transforming the way companies operate and interact with their customers, ultimately driving greater efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.”

What is your connection to the JADS playground?

“We sometimes attend and assist with events and have students doing internships with us, so in that way, we collaborate with JADS. We wanted to be centrally located, and Den Bosch was convenient for multiple reasons. Here, we have connections with the university and other startups, which was why we chose to set up here.”

What is in your eyes unique about JADS?

“JADS started as a startup itself, and that entrepreneurial spirit still resonates throughout the organization. Unlike larger institutions, you don’t lose that sense of connection as you grow. Being here, you remain plugged into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs who want to start a startup?

“Take your time when hiring people and don’t be afraid to let them go if needed. You often hear this advice, but until you experience it firsthand, it’s hard to fully grasp its importance. You’ll inevitably encounter the same challenges, so don’t shy away from making tough decisions to ensure your startup’s success.”

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