Amsterdam: the perfect place to start a business

Bynder came from humble beginnings. In 2008, while they were sitting around a kitchen table and sharing ideas, Chris Hall and his business partners, Roland Keijzer and Stefan Pelders, thought up the idea for the now-booming digital asset management platform. It all started as a solution to a simple problem: a high-profile client of their SaaS development agency, Label A, needed a quick, easy download page for press communications, and so the idea for Bynder was born.

Now a leading digital file management platform, every day more than 500,000 people use the company’s brand portals, and Bynder employs hundreds of people worldwide in its offices in London, Boston, Barcelona and Dubai. But the company’s headquarters are on Max Euweplein – right in the heart of Amsterdam’s city centre.

Hall says that being located in Amsterdam is one of the main reasons for the company’s remarkable success –  it was even named as Deloitte Fast 50 Rising Star back in 2015. “Amsterdam is just a great place to do and start a business,” he explains. “It has great infrastructure, it’s relatively cheap compared to the other big hubs, it’s very easy to set up here, there’s a broad range of highly skilled people in the city and it’s very international and accessible.”

Bynder’s rise to success in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s tech scene has always been great, but it’s really come into its own over the last decade or so. This means that the city is gaining attention as a global tech hub. Hall thinks that the city’s international character, world-class connectivity and close-knit creative community make it the perfect place to launch a startup, or the first ‘stepping stone’ for bigger companies looking to expand into the European market.

“Overall, the tech scene in Amsterdam wants to succeed – there’s a lot of support for this between different startups and businesses, and it’s getting noticed globally,” he says. “You also get a lot of support from the City of Amsterdam. Being based in the city means it’s easier to service a global product: we have more than 40 nationalities in our office and work across multiple languages and markets every day.”

Hall thinks that the City’s streamlined processes make it the easiest place in Europe to set up a business. In addition, he says that if he were to start everything over, he would still choose Amsterdam for the company’s headquarters. “Everything is so easy here; I think tech companies should consider – if they want to open an office in Europe or they want to start in Europe – that this is the easiest place to do so. It’s very easy for Americans to do business here, and it’s very easy for the Dutch to business in the US. We’re also able to marry the business side of the US and the opportunity there with the more balanced culture here in Holland.”

Easy to attract and retain talent

Just from walking around Bynder’s expansive offices, seeing staff planning new campaigns and products in its meeting rooms – some named after famous fictional locations, including Game of Thrones’ King’s Landing – and hanging out in its various communal spaces, you can really feel the sense of community among its workforce.

Amsterdam canals aerial view Cris Toala Olivares

Hall believes that tapping into Amsterdam’s unique cultural scene and helping staff find the perfect work-life balance is key to attracting and retaining talent:  “our office is right in the middle of the city, and we have quite a young workforce, so it’s really important that they can experience the Amsterdam lifestyle. Our office acts as a clubhouse for our workers; our customers love to visit us too – and that’s a massive benefit of being based in Amsterdam. It’s not just about the work but the lifestyle around the job; it’s also about having fun.”

“Amsterdam is attracting talent from Silicon Valley, because it’s such an exciting place to live and do business,” Mr Hall adds. As statements go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bolder one when talking about the city’s booming business scene. But then, Hall certainly knows his stuff, so who are we to disagree.

Read more about Amsterdam's tech sector