The Dutch VC and Startups ecosystem is now the 6th biggest in Europe. The Netherlands is a big player in several markets as fintech, media and marketing, e-commerce, software development and 3D printing. In Utrecht, StartupUtrecht, the newest partners of Seats2meet, has been supporting the newborn companies in order to make the Startup ecosystem flourish in the Dutch city. Here is how they do it.

Hi Inez, could you tell us what Startup Utrecht is?

StartupUtrecht brings together startups, scale-ups, corporates, angel investors, venture capitalists, local government, banks and universities together to build and grow the Utrecht startup ecosystem. We help startups and scale-ups with opening up the access to capital, corporates, and talent. We have a lot of partners that are working with us to create a better ecosystem: the municipality of Utrecht, Economic Board Utrecht, Utrechtinc, Holland Startup, Studentsinc, DutchGameGarden, Jaarbeurs, Capgemini, NS, Seats2Meet, Digitalhealthstartup.eu, MediaMatters, PNO, Vechtclub XL, Hooghiemstra, Graduate space, Utrecht Center of Entrepreneurship, Regio Gooi en Vecht and Nyenrode.

StartupUtrecht is the official Utrecht hub under the umbrella of the StartupDelta initiative.

And could you explain what a Startup is?

There are a lot of definitions of a startup. Our definition of a startup is that a startup is a young company (maximum 5 years old) with an innovative repeatable and scalable business model and with at least two founders.

How do you support Startups in Utrecht?

We help startups and scale-ups in several ways. Especially in the Seed phase, startups have difficulties finding investors. We help them in the access to capital by offering them a platform to pitch their business to informal investors. Furthermore, we work together with several banks and organize pitch events for startups and their private banking clients. To prepare startups for those pitching events, we offer pitch training.

Another problem a lot of startups have is that they have difficulties finding a launching customer. StartupUtrecht brings together corporates and startups to innovate together, to act as launching customer or to open up the network of the corporate.

Furthermore, we help startups and scale-ups that have difficulties in finding talent, affordable office space and in determining their internationalization strategy (which countries, entry strategies, how does the local ecosystem work, etc.).

What are the Startups you are supporting right now?

We have more than 200 startups in our region. Some are in the idea phase, other are scaling already. Startups have their own set of challenges. I will give a few examples. We connected VR Owl and Feli to Capgemini, which resulted in successful collaborations. United Wardrobe is one of the startups that joined us on our economic mission to Munchen. They are now doing business in Germany. Trunkrs was funded via our informal investors network. And Minibrew and 2Daysmood are examples of startups that join our internationalization program.

And for new entrepreneurs with a great idea, how can they approach you?

If you are a startup or thinking about starting your startup in Utrecht region, you can contact me via inez@startuputrecht.com. Please be specific in your request for help, so we can help you as well as possible.

What are your tips for newborn Startups?

The most important thing to think about is what is the problem that you are solving. Does the problem exist? Does your target group recognize this problem? And is the target group willing to pay for a solution? Get into contact with your target group as early as possible. Consult with them in every step you take to increase your chance of success. And think about the skills you need to make this company a success. Are all skills present in your team? Are you and your cofounder complementary?

And what are your tips for companies that are in the market for a longer period of time to get involved with Startups?

Working with startups is not easy for most established organizations. Startups and established companies, especially corporates, have their own way of working. Both parties have to understand that you need to try to move a bit closer to each other. This means that corporates can’t expect from startups that standard procurement processes are applicable for startup collaborations. The startup, on the other side, should be willing to learn and understand why some processes are important for the specific corporate and should think about how they can adjust their ways of working a bit to make it fit.

How does Startup Utrecht see Utrecht in a few years?

Our ambition is that in five years, Utrecht is seen nationally and internationally by startups, scale-ups, corporates, and investors as one of the best places in Europe to start and grow your startup.