A man with brown hair, smiling, wearing a blue suit, posing for a business photo

Max Donders & Linqo: High-Quality GPS Tracking Solutions

Max Donders was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, so it was natural for him to take the same route. His hunger for new ideas is the main reason for becoming an angel investor as well. His current company, Linqo helps companies solve mobility challenges. Learn about their mission, check out the advice for founders Max shared with us, and find out what he predicts for the Berlin startup ecosystem.

A man with brown hair, smiling, wearing a blue suit, posing for a business photo
1. Hi Max, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us about your background and how you entered the startup world?

I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, with my family from Germany, who has a farm, and my family from the Netherlands, who owned a gas wholesale company. My uncle was one of the first in the Netherlands to import big gas barbeques from Australia. So, I would say that entrepreneurship is in my blood. 

During my studies, I started a company together with my friend Joep Meertens in consulting and advising schools on social media-related topics. We did this for some time but then decided to focus on studying and traveling. Today, Joep is still one of my best friends, and last year, we started a new business importing natural wine together with another friend, Jurre Ham. Personal relationships are very important to me in business.

My current company, Linqo, is active in the field of telematics and IoT. I started working in this field as one of the first team members to set up the Benelux office of Fleetmatics, a company that was listed on the Nasdaq. After a few years in this field, in 2018, I felt the time had come to go all in and start my own company. After an investment from one of our main suppliers, Linqo had offices in Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

2. Linqo is a smart mobility solution (SaaS) that helps companies solve mobility challenges. Could you tell us more about your mission?

We are a quality GPS tracking solution provider striving to optimize our customers’ businesses. We connect people, vehicles, and assets to the internet (IoT) by collecting and analyzing real-time data. Linqo’s easy-to-use, efficient, and complete system allows companies and employees to make smarter, safer, and faster decisions. 

As our services are related to moving vehicles, goods, and other assets, this comes with a responsibility to control the carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the planet. We take responsibility for providing the tools and informing customers about the minimization of their fleet’s contribution to global carbon emissions. 

Linqo’s CO2 reporting feature ensures accurate and reliable reporting, giving a clear understanding of the fleet’s environmental footprint. By embracing this insight, our customers contribute to fighting climate change and gain a competitive edge as a responsible organization.

A thing that makes me proud is that I came up with the name Linqo while on a moving walkway at the airport. Now, we have been partly acquired by a much bigger company, but we kept the brand name, and even some of their offices are now rebranded to Linqo.

3. What is it about entrepreneurship that attracts you?

New ideas trigger me. I cannot count the number of times my girlfriend was annoyed by one of my “new ventures.” Luckily, I don’t proceed with 99% of these ideas, as they’re sometimes less brilliant than what I originally imagined them to be. 

This “hunger” for new ideas also plays the main role in my decision to become an angel investor (in Leapfunder and other startups via Leapfunder, such as Husense, Movacar, Triggre, and Delphyr). Being close to people who try to implement their ideas gives me great joy.

What attracts me even more is being persistent in implementing an idea alone (or maybe with a small founding team), and later on getting people on board. I enjoy creating an environment in which both the company and the people can strive and grow. 

4. As an entrepreneur, you had to overcome a lot of hurdles. Which advice would you share with other founders?

The main challenge is to start. This does not mean I encourage everyone with an idea to start a business. If it would be that easy to build a company, everybody (or at least more people) would do so. It requires persistence, and it’s a bumpy road – founders worry about paying salaries, rent, etc. and sometimes spend sleepless nights. 

The most valuable lesson I learned is that the grass always seems to be greener on the other side. Every company, a startup but also a corporate, has its challenges. Nowadays, in social media times, every company is the “biggest,” the “fastest growing” and the “most innovative.” Behind all of that, there are structures and processes with their downsides (or space for improvement) and, most importantly, people with their strengths but also challenges.

Lastly, human values are the most important thing, at least for me and my team. Boundaries should always be respected. And while customers are important, human values are even more important.

5. What do you predict for the startup ecosystem in Berlin?​

At the moment, the changes in the startup environment, such as worsened investment climate and decreased valuation, are very much in the foreground. This can be challenging for founders who are looking for investment. 

On the other side, I do like the focus on “business realism.” A focus on tangible results such as product/market fit, revenue, and sales. I think this will play an important part in the near future.

Thanks for sharing your insights and story, Max. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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