Bringing a leading Nordic corporate venturing advisory to Amsterdam

Since Avanto Ventures first kicked off back in 2015, the company quickly grew into a leading corporate venturing advisory in the Nordics, accelerating startups and helping corporations with new venture innovations. In 2017, Avanto set up shop in the Netherlands to further expand its footprint in the European market. From this new Amsterdam office, Avanto helps its customers venture out to new growth areas by matching them with startup ecosystems.    

During the second annual StartupCity Summit at TNW back in May 2018, StartupAmsterdam sat down with the company’s co-founder and head of European operations, Antti Rantanen, to find out what he thought about doing business in the Dutch capital. Unsurprisingly, it’s all good news.

Access to talent and high English proficiency

When Avanto was first launching the Amsterdam office, it became quickly apparent that accessing talent wouldn’t be an issue – especially due to the city’s great connectivity and quality of living. “I think it’s very easy to attract people from abroad to come and work and live in Amsterdam,” says Rantanen. “In the last six months since we moved here, we’ve already attracted five more people to work at the company, because the ecosystem is friendly and the location in Amsterdam is great in terms of expanding and moving around.”

Everyone knows that the standard of English is high in the Netherlands, as the country regularly tops English-proficiency rankings. Naturally, this extends to the business community. “The fact that the business language in Amsterdam is English makes things easy,” says Rantanen. “The ecosystem is very inviting, so you feel included very quickly.”

A helpful and collaborative business environment

What surprised Rantanen most was how ready everyone in the business ecosystem is to lend a helping hand – whether that be the government, growth initiatives or even other companies. “The City of Amsterdam has opened doors for me to places I would not have been able to access without their support,” says Rantanen. “It’s surprising how easy it was to develop a business in the Netherlands and get time from people.”

“I think it’s impressive to see how many corporates have put so much money behind corporate venturing for learning,“ he continued. “How gracious people are with their network and time continues to impress me.”

The city’s collaborative business ecosystem wasn’t just a hit with Rantanen; in fact, it convinced some of his friends to relocate to the Netherlands. “I’ve brought some friends with me to TNW from Finland and the States, and they’re all moving here in the next year, because the way people have shown an interest in them,“ he says. “It’s not just empty promises in Amsterdam.”

Networking within Amsterdam and the Netherlands’ startup scene was also a breeze. “The public/private organisations in other countries are not effective as they are here in the Netherlands,” he says. “For people looking to move to Amsterdam to start a new business, I would advise them to reach out to organisations like StartupAmsterdam and StartupDelta, because for us they’ve been incredibly helpful with their advice and network. It’s really been great.”

Innovative, direct and efficient

But it’s not just the networking and referrals that are top notch in the Dutch capital: the ecosystem itself is also renowned for its acumen for innovation and getting things done, which Rantanen really appreciates. “Amsterdam is a great place to do business, because the atmosphere is very dynamic,” he says. “Maybe is the most expensive word in the English dictionary, but in the Netherlands people are willing to try new things, and people are really direct. I personally really like that.”

Collaboration is crucial for the future

All in all, Avanto Ventures’ forward-thinking and collaborative mindset fell in line with the way things are done in Amsterdam and the Netherlands – especially when it comes to adopting new tech and collaborating with other ecosystems.

“Europe has many strong ecosystems, but if it wants to be a player in the global internet economy, the European local hubs need to work much closer together to make the most of emerging technologies like blockchain and AI,” says Rantanen. “Initiatives like StartupDelta and StartupAmsterdam had the same rhetoric, which is why we felt so comfortable coming here to Amsterdam.”