Neelie Kroes, now Special Envoy for StartupDelta
, came to Eindhoven to share three wishes to be realised by July 2016. There is no time to waste.
"My goal is to getting at least one of the large pension funds in the Netherlands to invest in a venture-fund for disruptive startups. Currently the figure is zero. I want to investigate ways to change that, thereby giving startups access to the right funding at the right moment."
"My second goal is that five large foreign venture capital firms have their European headquarters in the Netherlands. Two are already here, actively scouting for investments. We need more of these kinds of VC funds who recognise the global potential for many of the disruptive startups emerging from various Dutch ecosystems."
"I also want to see one major VC event in the Netherlands each year. StartupDelta recently got a visit from Capital on Stage
who’ve announced an event for VC’s interested in startups for September 24th 2015. So we’re off to a good start."
One of those VC funds mentioned by Neelie Kroes visited Eindhoven this week.
Ray Quintana is General Partner for the Cottonwood Technology Fund
, the top performing early venture US capital fund in the USA for the last five years. He has deliberately set up his European headquarters here.
"I’m interested in the Netherlands as a whole, because there’s an incredibly dynamic ecosystem. There’s just the right mix of disruptive technology and passionate entrepreneurs with the vision to build it. What’s lacking is the kind of service that we provide as a technology fund. We understand the different capital requirements during the life-cycle of young tech companies; companies need capital to get them through the "valley of death". It is very challenging to cover the negative cash flow in the early stages of a startup, before the new product or service is bringing in revenue from real customers. That’s especially true in hardware."
"But, just as important, as a startup you need to have a global vision from day one if you’re serious about conquering a global marketplace. We believe you can’t build a global company without access to the aggregated resources of a global ecosystem. That’s why we don’t try to grow our companies organically from the bottom up."
"Nobody can emulate Silicon Valley. Don’t even try. They invested US$29 billion last year, and that’s just a tip of the iceberg. So, by all means, understand what works in the Valley, but translate and adapt that into your own local ecosystem to make maximum use of what you have available."
For those of us in hardware development, it makes perfect sense to look East as well as West. You can’t scale up your product until you have the supply chain in place – and China plays an important role for many companies in the Brainport region.
Startupbootcamp HighTechXL CEO Guus Frericks made 6 trips to China last year, resulting in a strong alliance with both Chinese startups and investors. If you can scale in that market, you can scale anywhere. Likewise, Chinese startups are looking to tap into our technology as well as understand Western markets. And that network of trust has started to pay off in a spectacular fashion.
In fact it was a Chinese investor, Yu Ming Fang, who really surprised an audience of a thousand people who came to Eindhoven last Friday (6 Feb) for Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. He signed a €450.000 funding contract
for Avular on stage. This startup designs and makes industrial drones for inspection and maintenance. A few minutes later he decided to invest another €600.000 in Manus Machina which makes robotic gloves to turn your hand into a controller and gestures into speech. Perhaps he was inspired by the presentation of Manus Machina including a video clip in which a drone was controlled by their technology.Dutch startup Star Engines
, who make portable charging stations for electric vehicles announced they had received €2 million from angel investor Frans van Gils.
Having three of the 11 hardware startups fully funded with such significant amounts on demo day is unheard of in the start-up world. Congratulations to everyone involved on a supreme effort.
And judging by the smart suits walking around the Startupbootcamp HighTechXL offices on the Campus at the moment, I’m sure there are more announcements coming very soon!
What a great way to end a memorable week!