Founders, officials discuss how the Dutch startup ecosystem is serving as a major base for Indian companies

The Dutch funding ecosystem seems to be a lucrative call for Indian startups. During a panel discussion at TechSparks 2021, founders and officials discussed the same to get a better understanding of the Netherlands' funding ecosystem.

The funding ecosystem in the Netherlands comes with many advantages. The crux of the story lies in creating awareness about the Dutch startup ecosystem, and showing Indian startups/company owners the various ways of using them, while helping them to understand, reach out, and accelerate the various programmes hosted by the Netherlands government.

At YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, TechSparks 2021, founders and officials from India and the Netherlands came together for a panel discussion on the topic: 'Forging startup accelerators and funding ecosystem connections in the Netherlands'.

The panel was hosted by Heine Lageveen, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bengaluru, with panellists like Andreea Bota, Head for Scouting startup’s, Yes!Delft; Sabine Muller, Content Manager, Dealroom.Co; Karthik Mahadevan, CEO, Envision; and Tanuj Jhunjhunwala, Co-founder & CEO, Planys Technologies.

A hub for incubators and accelerators

Speaking about what makes the Netherlands startup ecosystem a favorable option for incubators and accelerators when compared to other parts of the world or Europe, Sabine said: “It is difficult to rank it against other ecosystems of the world. However, the Dutch ecosystem is emerging, and is trying to catch up with the rest with its host of benefits. The fact that it’s so well distributed and connected with a strong infrastructure makes it easier to operate.”

She also spoke about the Amsterdam Delta region that ranked 13th on the global scale, but third on the European scale, behind London and Paris.

Besides, it is also intertwined with the universities and research institutes that created a well-educated workforce, while increasing the population of English-speaking individuals. A lot of MNCs are also planning for their headquarters in the Dutch ecosystem, drawing a pool of talent and expertise for startups to pick from. To sum it up, it is a startup paradise.

Yes!Delft, a startup incubator, believes in the impact of tech companies, and thereby making a crucial contribution through innovation. On being asked about the role of Indian organisations in Yes!Delft, Andreea said, “Every year, we have at least one Indian startup joining the incubator and shining in the cohort. Besides, every year, we see several applications from Indian startups dealing with medtech or startups dealing with AI solutions, showing interest to join in the bandwagon.” So, the Dutch ecosystem can support the valuable talents emerging from India, she added.

One prominent example is Karthik, who came for higher education in the Netherlands, and is now the CEO of a company. It was the journey of an idea turning into a business model, aided by Yes!Delft. However, Karthik remembers the enrollment process for Delft was quite competitive.

“When we applied, we were already in touch with a few other startups in the incubator. They offered us the required help and advice to keep up the pace,” he said. However, the application process was quite a brainstorming process that helped to sort the assumptions and define the basics like the target audience, the market you are approaching, and even extending to the ways of making money.

“So, the entire process of application triggered off the thought of considering our business model in a holistic way instead of a one-on-one approach,” he said.

“Landing in the Netherlands was fortunate enough for us, as we were dealing in the maritime industry, and the Netherlands already had a steady base when compared to India,” added Tanuj. “We were overwhelmed with the entire ecosystem setup, and how open they were in using the innovative technologies, and a fantastic journey of scaling up,” he said. The embassy and the FourExcel team were extremely cooperative and helpful in forming the base.

Tanuj also delved deeper into NFIA, i.e., the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, an agency under the Dutch government, that assists foreign companies to invest and set up shop in the Netherlands.

Joining the dedicated programmes

Andreea revealed two major programmes by Delft for Indian startups. The first one is a kind of pre-incubation programme termed as Validation Labs.

“If you are not dedicatedly working for your startups, yet have ideas and want to explore if this is your ultimate goal, then this is a good way to try, as it primarily focuses on your market needs and identifying your ideas behind running a startup,” she said.

The second one is the Escalator programme meant for incubation. “This is the programme dedicatedly meant for the startups, and here we help the founders in finding the right model, understanding the growth needs, and the market propositions, helping them to navigate the funding ecosystem while connecting them to the required talents, thereby making the business a success, focusing on your needs in the journey,” she said.

“We generally do not take any equity at any stage, but have a fee system. We do work with early-stage startups having a minimum proof of concept, and these are the kind of commitment fees for each of the programmes. So, being incubated at Yes!Delft means that you are starting with zero revenue. But, after a few years, while you see your company growing and have reached a certain amount of revenue, you would have to pay Yes!Delft with an annual payback fee, and it goes back to the ecosystem again,” explained Andreea, on the process of Indian companies enrolling for the programmes.

“The subsidy opportunities in the Netherlands provide good initial funding, as they evolve minus the equity. Besides, Yes!Delft also inculcates the organisers to join and form a good networking procedure for the startup owners in that current batch,” added Karthik while delving deeper into the funding procedures.

Why the Netherlands?

“It is a fantastic holiday destination apart from doing business. Besides, it completely fits into what we do, and of course, the grants and subsidies have a major role to play while one is planning to start a business in the Netherlands,” said Tanuj.

Being a part of the European Union, the Netherlands is the ‘gateway to Europe’. So, a bit of research on the wants and needs and knowing the intricacies of the country is a great way of foraying into the Dutch startup ecosystem.

To log in to our virtual events platform and experience TechSparks 2021 with thousands of other startup-tech enthusiasts from around the world, join here. Don't forget to tag #TechSparks2021 when you share your experience, learnings and favourite moments from TechSparks 2021.

For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.


Updates from around the world