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How to make the Dutch startup life less complicated?

Guest writer and startup coach Duke Urbanik (on behalf of The Venture Generator) was recently invited to talk to Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs, about improvements that should be made in The Netherlands to make startup life less complicated.

Because even though there are many things that go right, such as tax benefits, grants, the startup visa and the work of embassies, there are still room for improvements. I therefore spoke to several startups to find out about the main issues and report them to Minister Kamp.

So what is needed to help startup companies, according to startup companies? One of the main conclusions of the discussion was that corporates should be better connected with the startup ecosystem. But a list of issues came about that we would like you to comment on. So feel free to join the discussion!

The main startup issues

Bank Finance

Specifically getting funds to finance orders and working capital prove difficult. Unfortunately banks are hesitant to lend money to early stage startups, or fulfil procurements outside of The Netherlands. It would therefore be helpful if the government stimulates or enforces loans, or otherwise secures the financing of orders.

Venture Capital

While government initiatives such as StartupDelta have the ambition to make Holland the European Silicon Valley, the investment climate in the Netherlands – and Europe in general – is totally different from the USA. There are fewer and significantly smaller deals here, and local investors are more risk averse. It would help if seed- or long-term (e.g. medical) investments in startup companies would be rewarded with tax advantages. The deal values then would most likely go up.

Legal support

Very few startup companies draft their own legal founding documents, shareholders agreements or general terms. This leads to legal vulnerability when the going gets tough. Startups can’t afford a first-class lawyer, so they’d rather Google for templates or examples. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the legal offices of certain size would be obliged to provide at least a minimum amount of legal support to first-year startups against a reduced price? Legal firm Houthoff Buruma has made a big step in this direction with a special legal incubator, but the amount of companies that can participate is limited.


The government has loads of support options that are available for startups, but it is quite a challenge to find the right entrance and get the correct paperwork. A special portal that would guide a startup through the available support programs and subsidies would be a great start, maybe even under the umbrella of StartupDelta.


There is a lot of money available, but the application process for grants is very time consuming. When a subsidy is granted, it often takes 3-4 months before actually receiving the money. In the meantime, the startup is losing valuable time. Speeding up this payment process would therefore help. Another suggestion is to have one grant, and only one, covering all startups. If your business qualifies for this grant, you should receive it in one payment. All extra cash could then come from investors or other non-governmental sources.

duke-urbanik-1Duke Urbanik is co-founder of The Venture Generator, startup mentor, strategy coach and private investor.

Frontpage image by Hans @ pixabay

StartupJuncture welcomes guest authors from the Dutch startup community / ecosystem to publish guest blogs. for more information, send an email to team@startupjuncture.com
  1. E.M. says:

    There has been “books” written about the mentality and bureaucracy concerning our start-up scenes in Europe. Already the fact that “When a subsidy is granted, it often takes 3-4 months before actually receiving the money” says it all. What a disgrace to big statements such as: “We want to make this and this into the new silicon valley.”…words are cheap these days.

    Banks are also not an option for any founder with a sanity.

    Can’t build a flying car when there are dinosaurs running everywhere around you, right.

    Maybe what it needs is progressive investors, lawyers and even government with a start-up like mentality – new business models, innovation, break things, simple and effective product and approach, and most of all…no bull*it.

    Another thing is that there is an impression that investors expect early returns, that you need to sell, sell, sell. ASAP! It should be product first, volume+community follow….and then monetising opportunities are endless. It is surprising how many people out there still don’t comprehend this kind of (iterative) model.

    Just my thoughts. Peace. 🙂

  2. Great suggestions. Would like to add two suggestions:

    1. grants and promotion specifically for within (semi-)government institutions to become (launching) customers of startups. Rather often the (semi-)governments complaining about economy and their high costs of innovation make it impossible for small startups to work with them (for example in tenders or ‘aanbestedingen’).

    2. I am frequently travelling through the Netherlands to talk with (potential) customers and users of our product. Wouldn’t it be great if NS would offer a startup fee? Finding the problems out there and collaborating with customers and other organisations, should be made as frictionless as possible. And I think this would be a rather easy thing to implement.

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