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Why Dutch startups are not Europe’s hottest startups

Infographics are great conversation starters. Especially if something’s missing in them. In this case: Dutch startups!

Recently VentureBeat published this nice little infographic about the European Tech Scene. Featuring: the usual suspects Berlin, London, Paris, Stockholm, Helsinki, and even Tel Aviv.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with these European startup hubs. It even says ‘Here is quick look at some of Europe’s hottest startups’. So nothing to blame the maker when you talk about the hub part. But when you give a glimpse of the tech scene in Europe, you shouldn’t miss The Netherlands as well.

Egg shell hat

In The Netherlands we have an expression called ‘Calimero complex’. Calimero is a little cartoon chicken with an egg shell as a hat. He likes to say: ‘They are big and I is small, that’s not fair!’. Before you say I have that same complex regarding to the Dutch startup scene, here are some examples in which we are in fact the big ones. Simply said: we can not be missed.

In case of funding we matter:

eBuddy, web chat tool. Funding: 15,9 million dollar.
Takeaway.com, order food online. Funding: 16,7 million dollar.
Shapeways, online marketplace for 3D printing. Funding: 47,3 million dollar.

In case of allure we matter:

WeTransfer, file sharing tool that got international attention with their sponsored backgrounds.
Peerby, riding the ‘sharing economy’ train.

In case of startups that had recent success we matter:

Distimo, analyses app data. Grew really fast, and opened four new offices across the globe this year.
Silk, let people gather, search and visualize information. The only startup that publicly received more than a million dollars in funding in a long time. Funding of the startup Wercker was estimated at ‘more than a million’.


Maybe that’s the problem with the Dutch startup scene. With the infographic in mind, we have startups that got millions, but they are ‘old’. We have startups that got the allure, but didn’t got a great amount of funding. We have startups with recent success, but don’t reach millions of consumers (yet).

With the recent flight to The States from Dutch startups Karma, Peerby and Fosbury in mind, and noting that the big ones Takeaway.com and Shapeways have their HQ in London and New York respectively, it isn’t even sure we have a real hub in The Netherlands.

Looking at the startups mentioned above, they have their roots in three different cities. Amsterdam, with the international allure and mix of cultures. Eindhoven, with the high tech culture and strong relation to Philips. We have Utrecht, based in the center of the country and with a lot of student entrepreneurs. But even in a small country like The Netherlands, naming one hub to rule them all is a tough call.

So maybe, just maybe VentureBeat was right… so I can put back on my little egg shell hat.

Cover image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video (Flickr).

Lorenz van Gool
Lorenz is co-editor-in-chief of StartupJuncture. As a freelance editor and journalist, he writes about startups, innovation and (e)-business. Loves to report from conferences. Really likes cleantech and journalism startups. You can ask him anything about dinosaurs. Twitter: @lorenzroman
  1. Hi Lorenz, you have left out Elasticsearch, the Amsterdam based company who recently raised a 24 million dollar Serie B round totalling their funding at 34$ million…. Furthermore, don’t forget Scoupy which is well-funded too (although not publicly disclosed as both PostNL and SanomaVentures are listed companies). Disclosure: Scoupy was formerly a client.

  2. Hi Remco, I’m sure I left some more out, but the ones I mentioned are just to make a point here 🙂

  3. I would like to add a few startups not mentioned in the article. Senz° umbrellas, Ultimaker and Elasticsearch (also mentioned by Remo Janssen) for instance. It’s quite a disgrace many potentially very successful startups have to leave The Netherlands to be able to conquer the world. Why? How come that’s necessary? Politicians, captains of industry, successful entrepreneurs and the society at large should take their responsibility and try answering these though questions.

  4. […] In reply to this infographic (yes, infographics are a great conversation starter) Lorenz started a discussion on why Dutch startups might (indeed) not be Europe’s hottest […]

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