Beginning entrepreneurs aiming for growth are not in this alone. For some time now, co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators pop up everywhere and increase in numbers rapidly. However, support for Dutch start- and scale ups that would take their growth a step further and enter new worldwide markets is fairly limited. DutchBasecamp fills this gap by supporting and preparing the entrepreneurs in order to become internationally successful. They guide entrepreneurs by creating an internationalisation strategy, validating this strategy and establishing a ‘lean landing’. All according to three important pillars: laying the foundation in the Netherlands, making optimal use of founder networks and putting emphasis on cultural diversity.
Preparing start- and scale-ups
“Internationalizing is the next thing which we should learn and monitor in The Netherlands” says Isabel Brouwer, director at DutchBasecamp. “Look at Coolblue and Bol.com, if Amazon ever decides to capture the Dutch market, they will be gone in seconds.”. According to her, Dutch companies need to grow in and outside of Europe in order to stay active worldwide. The biggest problem with this that entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of internationalizing, resulting in the lack of a good preparation. Even though preparation it is one of the most crucial steps in scaling up internationally. “Internationalizing is hard and it asks a great deal of entrepreneurs and their organizations. While a lot of entrepreneurs want to scale up internationally, most of them are not ready for it” Brouwer states. DutchBasecamp prepares start- and scale ups with this ambition to enter international markets with their customized programs. The foundation believes a lot of preparation can be done in the Netherlands. DutchBasecamp lays the foundation by supporting start and scale-ups in choosing an international market and countrylead, deciding what makes the product or service fit for a certain market and the best way for distributing, and setting up the financial and judicial arrangements. “In the end, these preparations will result in maximal impact”, says Brouwer.
Not one recipe for internationalising
DutchBasecamp’s approach focusses on learning from real-life experiences of founders who have gone through the process before and choose to only use a maximum of 30 percent theory from books. “There is not one recipe for internationalising, but one of the most important ingredients is to learn from the mistakes of your predecessors,” Brouwer says. Because of this, the foundation sets up lot of founder-networks, resulting in the formation of a community. “The Dutch culture isn’t focused on helping one another like some other cultures are, even though this is of big importance in order to grow the Dutch market as a whole,” Brouwer adds. By connecting founders, the collective use of experienced individuals and organising events and master classes start- and scale ups at DutchBasecamp learn from each other. Lessons learned from entrepreneurs who have already been through the process and sharing country specific knowledge is very valuable. “If you share mistakes and successes, there is no need to invent the wheel again” Brouwer explains.
Culture: make or break
Next to the preparation of practical tasks like choosing the right country and setting up the financial basis, it is important to pay attention to the differences in culture of the market that the start- or scale-up wants to enter. “Underestimating the cultural differences causes the internationalisation process to go slow, being harder than it should or even leads to failure,” states Brouwer. Studying another culture and being aware of these differences results in the right adaption, a better interpretation and pointing out and coping with these differences. Culture plays a role at all the different stages: not only when entrepreneurs cross borders, but in choosing the right market, the validation phase and in the receiving and providing of feedback as well. An example of the validation phase – where a product gets tested with potential clients, partners and local experts -: ‘Where a Dutchman clearly explains that he or she does not like a product, Americans will name a lot of positive points next to only a few points for improvement. The entrepreneur will think the deal is closed and, but doesn’t get a response anymore afterwards. While the Dutchman and American mean the same, they wrap it up in a different way’. In order to fully guide entrepreneurs in the process of internationalizing, DutchBasecamp designed the Globalizer-program in which extra attention is being paid on studying cultures and different master classes are organized to prepare the entrepreneurs in the best way possible before departing to the country of choice.
Between start- and scale ups
DutchBasecamp is a foundation established in 2013 by Ruben Nieuwenhuis, and was initially focused in guiding in the trans-Atlantic crossover. The company went to New York, Boston and Sillicon Valley to learn everything about the local ecosystems. Because of this experience, the foundation was able to bring the key ingredients to The Netherlands in order to built the best eco system possible. DutchBasecamp links start- and scale ups interested in entering the American market to successful predecessors. DutchBasecamp recently seated themselves in the new co-working space of Amsterdam, Merkspace. Merkspace builds bridges between startup ecosystems around the world and functions as both a co-working space and accelerator, matching perfectly with the international character of DutchBasecamp. “Next to this, we surround ourselves with our target customer everyday, forming a great advantage for the both of us and the start and scale-ups. Our door is always open!” Brouwer states.