The Dutch capital is a true magnet for startups and the 4th most active startup hub in Europe. It is home to renowned tech giants and world-class home-grown companies, a high quality of life, an enviable work-life balance, international tech talent, government-supported startup visa, and unmissable coffee culture. These advantages have also made the city an attractive investment destination, with reports stating that the Dutch tech companies raised €750 million in 2018. So if you are thinking about relocation, think no more. Here is an overview of the Amsterdam’s startup scene:
The City’s top startup hubs
B.Amsterdam – With the aim of building the biggest startup ecosystem in Europe B.Amsterdam offers 40,000 square metres of office and coworking space, event or meeting rooms, lounge area, gym, cinema, and a rooftop restaurant. It brings freelancers, startups, creatives and corporates together, to innovate, learn and grow through educational programs, interesting events and networking opportunities.
Epicentar – With a vision to establish Epicenter Houses of Innovation in key digital hotspots of the world, they have turned to Amsterdam. The membership-based space provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies to meet, collaborate, learn and grow their businesses, supported by the fastest growing digital companies through various types of initiatives, hackathons, workshops, etc.
Merkspace – With two locations in the city, Merkspace is bringing the coworking scene to another level. Open desks, conference rooms, cinema hall, advanced equipment, in-house restaurants, gym & spa facilities, tennis courts and tailored workshops, lectures and industry leading experts on demand. Did we mention unlimited beer?
Rent24 – The German co-working and co-living concept is thriving in the city with two locations, in the most exciting neighborhoods, known for its creative and international vibe. Excellent coworking space, meeting rooms and lounge area, coupled with an extensive network of mentors to provide all types of services to interested parties. All together a feel-good environment, with coffee free of charge.
TNW ‘Spaces’ – The heart of the Amsterdam startup community, TNW offers everything you need to grow your startup, from services, rooms, and technology to yoga, massages & haircuts. This tech hub is the central destination for success in the city. Big plus: after-work beer, yoga class or barbecue on the balcony with the TNW community.
Top 5 of the city’s up up-and-coming startups
Bunq – Calling itself the “Bank of the Free”, Bunq offers an alternative to traditional banking. Known for being one of the first fintech startups to remove the need for IBANs, Bunq allows users to easily make payments to each other, or even share a single account as a group, but it also operates as a full-fledged bank, processing payment requests and transfers to other banks, accessible via an app.
Felyx – Felyx is offering shared electric scooters as a new urban mobility concept in the Netherlands. 100% electric and powered by green energy, Felyx e-scooters provide a fast, efficient and sustainable way of moving around the city. With the Felyx app it is easy to locate and activate an available scooter and then park it at any destination. With €4 million in funding raised so far, they will for sure make your daily commute seamless.
Hiber – The startup provides global and affordable Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity via Hiberband nano-satellites to remote, unconnected areas of the world. Founded in 2016 by a team of satellite experts and tech entrepreneurs, split between Amsterdam and Delft, Hiber is pushing the boundaries and making life better for everyone.
Picnic – Picnic is an online supermarket offering groceries for the lowest price, accompanied by a free delivery service to your home. Founded in 2015, it quickly became recognized as one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe, receiving a €100 million in Series B investment in 2017. If things continue this way, Picnic will put an end to the traditional supermarket.
Polarsteps – Imagine you are travelling and someone could be your shadow blogger, taking notes of all the places you visited, create stories out of it and publish that online. Polarsteps does exactly that. The travel tracking platform automates your travel blogging and allows your friends to follow your adventures in real time. Currently tracking journeys in over 180 countries, the startup is set to grow even more with its latest €3 million Series A investment.
The city’s most active VCs
Anterra Capital – A spin-out from Rabobank, the global leader in food and agricultural banking, Anterra Capital became a specialist venture firm in 2013, mainly focusing on companies which can make the global food supply chain safer, more efficient and more sustainable. If your product ranges anywhere from novel agro inputs and precision farming to smarter logistics and consumer safety, this is the place to go.
HenQ Investments – Henq is primarily targeting young technology companies active in ICT, New Media, Mobile and Software sectors. Since its inception in 2004, it has grown out to be one of the main Dutch venture capital funds. Notable investments: Mews, Zivver, Studytube, Energyworx, Cronofy, Mendix, Insided and more.
Inkef Capital – Inkef Capital’s focus is on ICT/Fintech/New Media and Healthcare and it covers multiple investment stages but focuses mainly on Series A investments. Since 2010, Inkef has supported more than 25 companies with financing, business strategy and expertise. Notable investments: EclecticIQ, Polarsteps, Onefit, Castop, Night Balance, Bloomon and more.
Peak Capital – Founded by experienced entrepreneurs in 2007, Peak Capital provides growth capital and pro-active hands-on support to startups active in marketplaces, software, IoT, edtech, fintech, and data. Notable investments: OneFit, Media Distillery, InvoiceFinance, StuDocu, Catawiki, Iens, Flinders, Radionomy, Peecho, Tradecloud, CheapCargo, NPEX.
Prime Ventures – As one of the leading venture capital and growth equity firms in Europe, Prime Ventures was founded in 1999 by Sake Bosch, with offices in Amsterdam and Cambridge, and a current base of over half a billion Euro in committed capital. Notable investments: Codenomicon, Slimpay, Zappi.io, Almotive and more.
Most active business angels
Arthur Kosten – Arthur Kosten is a Dutch angel investor, known as the co-founder of Booking.com. He is a technology investor interested in late stage marketplaces, having invested in Catawiki, Healthecare.com, 3D Hubs, Planday, Festicket, 8fit, Deskbookers and more.
Hans Janssen – Mostly known as the founder of WoodWing software, today Hans is a co-founder of BFly Ventures, an early stage venture capital company. As an angel investor and startup consultant, he is active with the following startups: Sowiso, Freshfolds, Pr.co, Tiqets, Digital shefs, Revue and more.
Martijn Rozendaal – The former co-founder Just Eat & Treatwell is now active with Finneir Capital, an investment vehicle focussing on seed and pre-series A investments in healthcare technology startups. His previous investments include Medvine Limited, Grab, Fixico, Industrious, Tradono, Hiber, Polarsteps and more.
Thijs Gitmans – Thijs Gitmans is Partner at NBI Investors & Fund Manager of Mainport Innovation Fund, as well as an Angel Investor via DHG Communications Network and also a mentor at StartupBootcamp and Rockstart Accelerator. A dedicated Startup coach, with investments in Catawiki, Box, CheapCargo, Blazemeter and more.
Wouter Kneepkens – Wouter is a serial entrepreneur with a strong background in business and finance, having worked previously in investment banking, hedge funds and private equity. Besides being an angel investor, he is also managing Vandersluys & Caelen, an investment advisory & management firm and is an investor through VNTRE Fund, a seed stage investment firm.
Important Accelerators and Incubators
Ace Incubator – Named as the top incubator in Netherlands in 2018, the Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship is a university incubator of UvA, VU, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Amsterdam UMC which offers training, business support and access to an extensive network of mentors to their students, young researchers, university professors and alumni.
Booking Booster – Booking Booster is a three-week accelerator program for social startups building technology-driven solutions to sustainable travel challenges, consisting of lectures, hands-on workshops and coaching sessions by a personal Booking.com mentor, culminating in a final pitch for the prize of €500k. Best part: work directly with Booking.com on innovation initiatives.
Collider – Collider is fuelling the next generation of marketing and advertising tech startups via their 12 weeks accelerator programme with the possibility to win 50 or 100k€, receive mentorship and access to the Collider network for life. If your product can help corporates find, understand, engage, sell to and retain customers, then this is the place for you.
Marriott TestBed – Powered by Marriott Hotels, this 10-week accelerator programme wants to transform the future of travel and hospitality by providing startups support, expert advice and the perfect test bed. The startup needs to provide a product/service that enhances the entire hotel guest experience and they will provide an opportunity to test it within an operating Marriott Hotel.
Rockstart – Rockstart is one of Europe’s first multi-vertical startup accelerators, currently offering capital and expertise to startups working in the fields of energy, health, agrifood and emerging tech. The intensive acceleration program is coupled with office space, highly specialized knowledge, and access to a broad network of international mentors, partners and investors. Over 150 companies have been supported so far and counting.
The city’s most popular startup/tech events
Amsterdam Eweek – As one of Europe’s biggest festivals for digital media, e-business, online marketing, e-commerce and technology, Amsterdam Eweek is a week-long festival offering meetups, workshops, parties, dinners, conferences and gatherings at various locations throughout the city. Next edition: 9-16 October 2019
Hackers and Founders – Since 2011, every first Thursday of the month, Café De Doffer hosts the biggest meetup group of technology entrepreneurs and developers in the Netherlands. The meetup is open to anyone interested in technology or startup scene and wants to hear great speakers and meet like-minded people. Join their Slack channel for more info.
React – React is a full-day, two-track conference gathering front-end and full-stack developers from all over the world for a training day, workshops on advanced React, GraphQL as well as a crash course on React Native. The most exciting projects of the past year are recognized with React Open Source award. Next edition: 10-12 April, 2019
The Next Web Conference – Since 2006, TNW Conference has been a must-attend for tech enthusiasts and companies. The two-day technology festival brings the community together to network, do business, and learn about the latest trends in technology, surrounded by top-notch speakers and best networking parties. Next edition: 9/10 May, 2019
Amsterdam Capital Week – Held annually in the last week of September, the Amsterdam Capital week is all about bringing the whole ecosystem together through different events. Early-stage startups pitch their ideas, scale-ups discuss international scaling strategies, venture capitalists, and investors and business angels find new investments and launch long-term partnerships.
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