Patrick de Zeeuw will be available for a chat session Tues., May 22, 2012 at 10 am EST.
From the land of tulips and clogs, this wonderland accelerator is waiting to springboard your start-up towards financial success. Get to know Patrick, CEO of Startupbootcamp Amsterdam.
Current Residence: The Netherlands
Occupation: CEO Startupbootcamp Amsterdam, Member of the Board Startupbootcamp
Favorite Color: Green, Orange
Coming from a media background, and in a former life you were once a professional snowboarder, what made you go into venture capital? Was there a distinct moment? Was it through someone you met? What compelled you to go into the crazy world of start-ups?
My background has made me realize that everything you want in life is possible to achieve as long as you do it with passion and tremendous drive. In Holland we do not have any mountains, nor do we have any serious snow. I was very passionate about snowboarding and lived my dream snowboarding around the world. Same thing when I was part of the team that expanded Endemol from a local TV production company to the biggest TV production company in the world.
I do not see myself or Startupbootcamp as an venture capital business (guy). We help high potential start-ups from around the world do things better and faster with a mentor drive program. The fact that we provide them with some cash is merely pocket money to be able to live 3 months in a city with a team of 2-4 people. Our mentors and our knowledge with setting up businesses and expanding them is the real value of SBC. This is what most VC’s claim to provide but I only know a few that really do so. Most of them provide serious amounts of cash but limited mentoring/coaching.
There is much emphasis for a start-up to find its product market fit. But we live in a day and age where we are literally inundated by a new gadget, launch of another website, what is the compass you use to gage which ventures are making a real impact in people’s lives?
That’s a good question. Of course good ideas and product evolve all around the world at the same time. There are however only so many companies that can really make an impact. In most cases it’s the teams that decide if the product really makes an impact. There are other things which are really important and define success for example timing and luck. But even these two go back to team.
In the 90’s, venture capital experienced the now infamous tech bubble where deep money was poured into non sustainable ventures. Nowadays, it seems to be experiencing smaller investments spread out more to mitigate the risk. Where do you see the investment trends headed by 2020?
The start-up world has changed a lot in the last 15 years. First of all the word start-up was not really known in the late nineties in the EU. I also think the definition of the word start-up and the way people look at start-ups has changed. 10 to 15 years ago most University students would go and find a job at a big corporate, these companies were cool, paid well and provided security. If you started your own many you could probably not land a nice job at a corporate, so you weren’t really cool. In the last 3 to 5 years lots has changed in:
- the corporate world: not so cool any more, not so secure, more lay offs than hiring’s
- the economy: not so many jobs for grab’s, not so secure, changes all the time
- the start-up scene: quite cool to start your own company, not so difficult any more to start your start-up, relatively little cash needed, not local business but the world is/can be your market, etc.
I think this trend will continue. Actually the recession has a great impact on the start-up eco system. It brings:
- more deliveries of entrepreneurs & start-ups
- more angel investments, because investing on the stock market is boring and does not bring results
Next to this it is extremely difficult for big corporates to innovate. To be innovative the have to be able to develop disruptive technology. Technology that might eventually have a major impact on the companies’ businesses. This is of course against the nature of most corporates and its management. Therefore disruptive technology is mostly not developed by corporates but smaller companies that only see business opportunities instead of threats.
Does gender diversity differ regionally? How many women led ventures have participated in Startupbootcamp Amsterdam program sofar?
I’m not sure. The only thing I can say is that I would love to see more women in the star-tup world. Most start-ups are started by coders and techy guys. Therefore I would say 85% of the people in startups are men. We will have about 3 teams (out of 10) with in total 4 ladies participating in Startupbootcamp Amsterdam which is not so bad. I think women add a lot a value to the techy coding guys and can really make a big difference within any start-up by bringing skills most men normally don’t have including the e-factor.
Startupbootcamp starts with a nominal amount of funding. Is there a longer term trajectory for building a bigger financing pool or a fund based on the entrepreneurs that produce strong results and grow their businesses over a number of years?
The follow up funding of our teams is provided by angel investors or early stage seed VC’s. We help angels and VC’s by providing them interesting investment opportunities that have already been looked at by lots of skilled entrepreneurs and mentors. We do not see ourselves as a fund that provides follow up investments.
How would you say an incubator (we are not an incubator but an accelerator) like Startupbootcamp compare/compete with other funding methods? i.e., Kickstarter and AngelList are becoming well-known sources of funding that may have lower barriers to entry depending on the given social network for those start-up founders.
As mentioned we are an accelerator, not incubator, AngelList etc. We are part of an eco system that supports high potential start-ups with a pool of over 700 very skilled and experienced mentors to launch their start-up more successfully. Our mentors and partners make all the difference, they provide knowledge, networks, tools, access to follow up funding, clients etc. AngelList is a great tool for us to connect with high potential startups and next to this we advise all teams to place themselves on AngelList. Therefore I say we support all initiatives that help start-ups succeed and do not believe in competition and only believe in cooperation.
Which company would you count as your most successful to date? And how do you measure success at the end of the day?
At Startupbootcamp we had several great successes since we launched 2 years ago in Europe. I’ll name a few :
- Archify an Austrian Startup
- Linkovery a Spanish Startup
- Netgamix an USA/Spainish Startup
- Mobitto a Portugese startup
It is to early to say if these or any of the other startups we accelerated will be a huge success in 2 – 3 years. We of course measure the success of the companies we invested time and money in on the ROI they will provide in the long run. I would say ask me this question again in 3 years…;)