Defining one’s expectations of a young, female CEO in the tech industry is a tricky business, let alone one who holds this lofty title at the age of 25. Nina Hoff is somehow simultaneously the epitome of professional and enthusiastic. Her gift of an open, friendly manner paired with obvious intelligence and keen organizational skills make her a force within the Brainport region and a rapidly growing industry.
Nina grew up in Maastricht and the Hague where she completed her university study, earning a degree in Management and Healthcare. After working three years in the healthcare field she was motivated towards a new objective. In May 2016, she became the CEO of byFlow, a start-up star on the High Tech Campus. Nina is no stranger to hard work, long hours, and holding her own in a highly competitive business world comprised mostly of men. At her sides, however are two of her biggest supporters and inspirations, her father Frits and her brother Floris. Starting a family business has its own unique challenges, according to Nina. Putting aside the business plans and technical aspects, she says their underlying priorities are simple. “Family always comes before business.” This approach has served them well as byFlow is poised to help transform the 3D printing industry making it more accessible and attractive to consumers.
byFlow began with an idea to create a portable, versatile, and stylish 3D printer. Modeling his vision after his role model Steve Jobs and the trademark sleek design of Apple products, Floris Hoff originally created the prototype out of which their flagship printer, the Focus, was born. “3D printing should be fun and help in business and research, but the design has to look good and be easy to use,” says Nina Hoff about their product. This 3D printer was created for a wide range of applications from ceramics and silicone to foods such as chocolate and chicken. The Focus’ simplicity and unique characteristics make it a highly desirable product for their clients. “It does not look like anything technical,” she says. Educators appreciate the portability of the Focus and its ease of use for experimentation by students and researchers while the food industry can take advantage of its versatility and ability to easily switch print heads depending on ingredients. The Focus is cornering the market with a chic, high tech tool that anyone can use.
As an alumnus of the High Tech Campus’ Startupbootcamp, Nina and byFlow have appreciated the networking potential ripe within the campus and the region. “Saying you are here [at the High Tech Campus] holds weight,” says Nina about their strategic location. She finds being among other startups as well as more established companies incredibly encouraging while riding the roller coaster associated with creating a new business in the tech industry. She also sees the great potential at the High Tech Campus, and more generally within the Brainport region, for further partnership and collaboration between the companies. “We can do so much more,” she says, adding how she looks forward to the more mature companies taking a larger role in mentoring the fledgling businesses. Learning every day on the job and seeking advice from others has been invaluable. With more experience Nina finds she is now able to give back and help others. “We needed that help a year ago and now we can share our experiences.”
Sharing knowledge and acting as a role model for young women in the tech industry, Nina is effusive about her job and her responsibilities. As the only woman in her company she is attuned to the distinctive roles women play within her field and how important that is to the dynamics of the business. With a background outside the technical, Nina stresses that those are not the only areas that need fulfillment within the technology sector. “We need more women,” she says. “No one should be stopped if they are not an engineer.” As the leader of the international team at byFlow, Nina sees how essential it is to have breadth of knowledge and experience within her company. With variation in gender and background each individual brings their own skills and perspective to strengthen the group.
Nina Hoff is clearly one to watch as she continues to steer byFlow through the stream of innovation. To learn more about the future of 3D printing, visit: www.3dbyflow.com
Written by Rory Williamson © Brainport Development