Tycho Luyben is a Dutch entrepreneur living in a small village in Spain. Passionate about programming since he was 8 years old, he built his own software company at the age of 18, sold it and created Netherlands' biggest dating and hosting websites, just to name a few. Tycho is now living the life he has always dreamed of. But how did he do all this?
When did you create your first startup? How did it all start?
I got my first computer at the age of 8, which was in the beginning of the 80's, and started to learn to programme through books, as there was no internet back then. So I learned to make games and sold them until I was 15. I also attended local events and sold these games on floppy disks. But that wasn't my first real business.
When did you make that real business?
When I was 15 I studied educational software and my uncle had a company which made educational software for schools, he was looking for someone to do programming and hired me. So, that was the first time I made real money building software. I left when I was around 18 years old but my uncle still runs his business today.
So what did you do afterwards?
I started my own software consultancy company, programming for clients. This company was merged with, at the time, the biggest internet provider in the Netherlands. With that we started doing consultancy and sell accountant management systems. So this was my first big company.
How old were you when you sold your share of the company?
I was 26.
And what did you do next?
I met my wife and we created the biggest free dating site in the Netherlands at the time, and it still exists. It happened when we went on holiday to Lanzarote and thought 'Why not start this?' because all the dating sites in the Netherlands at the time where either very expensive or just websites where people were looking for momentary relationships. So we created KNUZ and sold it in 2009, when it had 250 thousand members. It was a nice success.
Did you create the hosting site after selling KNUZ or before?
We created it before, in 2007. It became one of the biggest hosting sites in the country, called 110MB. It had 4 million members, so there was a considerable number of people in this community. Then we sold it in 2010.
So what are you working on now?
I co-founded Koncept one year ago and also founded Logirix.
What is Koncept? And what is Logirix?
Koncept is a venture technology partner that works with early-stage tech startups and entrepreneurs and gets equity share in the startup, in return. Logirix is a software consulting company, it is something I really want to do again.
Do you never get tired of software consulting?
No, not really. I usually get tired of working with startups after a while, but not of software consulting.
So are Koncept and Logirix based in the UK?
Well, they are both based i the UK, Netherlands and Portugal.
Where about in Portugal?
In Castelo Branco.
Why did you choose Castelo Branco?
I had a startup app in 2011 that merged with Logirix, and all our programmers where in Castelo Branco. I met them when I was on holiday in Madeira. They are very good programmers and were out of job, so they said they would all come work for me in Castelo Branco.
Do you have any other projects we should keep an eye on?
At the moment I am working om ScramCard. It is a Master Card with a small computer buit into it, as a security, having a small screen and numeric keypad on the back. You can link all your payment accounts to this card. So when you go to an ATM, you type your PIN code on the card's numeric keypad and then it gives you a new 4-digit code on the screen. Then you put your card in the ATM and type that new code in. It doesn't matter if anyone sees your new code as it only will work one time. It also works with contactless payments. The programmers in Castelo Branco are developing the card, so you can say it also is a Portuguese product.
So you are Dutch, live in Spain and are running startups in the UK, Netherlands and Portugal. Do you have any startup in Spain?
Yes, I have a beer brewery. It is called Cabra Azul (Blue Goat). We also have a shop that sells the beer. We have a lot of goats in the village where we live, so it was easy to choose the name for the brewery. We sell in Spain, Netherlands and are looking forward to start selling in Portugal.
Why do you live in Spain?
I wanted to live in East Germany but my wife wanted to live in the South of France, so we compromised and went to live in Spain, as I didn't want to live in France and she didn't want to live in Germany. We talked about which other countries we would like to live in and decided we would go to Spain, as we wanted to live in a more slow-paced and relaxed atmosphere.
What a great way to inspire other entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs! Guys, if you every drive by a small village in Spain during your holidays, you might find Tycho there enjoying his Cabra Azul.