Originally published in Holland Herald, September 2017 edition.
As the home of more than 20 accelerators and incubators spanning FinTech to fashion, as well as over 150,000m² of co-working spaces (including B. Amsterdam, Europe’s largest tech hub), more than 250 data science courses and 900 annual tech events, and a seemingly endless supply of talent, Amsterdam's startup scene is thriving.
Drawn by a spirit of entrepreneurship deeply embedded in the city’s DNA, over 3,000 international companies are based in Amsterdam. These include giants such as Tesla, Tommy Hilfiger and Netflix, all of whom have chosen the 2016/2017 European Capital of Innovation for their global or continental headquarters. And in doing so, they have joined successful homegrown startups that are now international household names, from Adyen to Booking.com to Europe’s fastest-growing scale-up, Catawiki.
What’s more, the StartupAmsterdam programme has been working to turn Amsterdam into Europe’s premier startup location since 2015, when the City of Amsterdam joined forces with local startups and scale-ups, universities, knowledge institutions, accelerators, incubators, tech companies and multinationals – all to promote a startup-friendly climate, skilled talent, access to capital and access to launching customers.
When it comes to attracting talent, Amsterdam has a great deal of appeal. Enticed by the city’s inclusive atmosphere, open-mindedness, creative energy and work-life balance, ambitious thinkers, doers and makers from 180 countries now live in the Dutch capital, and they are the driving force behind everything – from startups focusing on developing their business model to scale-ups ready for their next investment rounds and world domination. Below, we describe some of the key companies that have been founded in Amsterdam.
Dutch Weed Burger
Launched in 2012, The Dutch Weed Burger is a growing startup that makes great-tasting vegan patties from roasted soy and responsibly farmed protein-rich kombu seaweed. And it’s been a recipe for success, as the company sold 100,000 burgers at food and music festivals in 2016 alone (that’s an average of one burger being devoured every five minutes). But if festivals aren’t your thing, you can also tuck into The Dutch Weed Burger’s refreshing take on fast food at any Bagels & Beans in the Netherlands, or their very own joint in Amsterdam West, where you can try new treats such as the Seawharma, a vegan seaweed- and seitan-powered alternative to the doner kebab.
Ace & Tate
Amsterdam-based eyewear brand Ace & Tate – a play on the word ‘acetate’, the durable material used to make its frames – has taken the European optical scene by storm. And it’s all thanks to Mark de Lange’s (the company’s founder & CEO) belief that prescription glasses should be seen as a fashion accessory rather than a medical device. Which is why this ambitious scaleup is keen to keep designing and producing high-quality handmade glasses that retail at €98 (incl. prescription lenses), while expanding internationally. So, if you’re ready to swap your old specs for spanking new eyewear, visit one of Ace & Tate’s Amsterdam locations, which also offer free eye tests, a one-day service and personal style advice.
Founded in 1989, G-Star RAW introduced jeans in untreated denim in 1996 and, in a constant pursuit of innovation, soon began to also use sustainable fabrics, such as organic and recycled cotton. In 2014, the company took its green ambitions to the next level when, together with American musician and businessman Pharrell Williams’ Bionic Yarn venture, it created denim from recycled ocean plastic. Williams became G-Star’s co-owner and Head of Imagination in 2016, and proudly declared: “I believe G-Star will be the definitive jeans brand of the 21st century.” G-Star is currently available in more than 6,000 stores in 70 countries, and its presence is ever-growing. Find your perfect fit at more than 24 venues in Amsterdam, including G-Star’s global flagship on P.C. Hooftstraat.
Founded in Amsterdam in 1996, the world’s most popular online platform for hotel reservations is also one of the Dutch capital’s most celebrated ‘unicorns’ (startup ventures valued at over US$1 billion). With 199 offices worldwide and 1.2 million nights booked at more than 1 million hotels each day, Booking.com shows no signs of slowing down its spectacular growth. “Amsterdam attracts a lot of talent from all over the world, particularly in the technology sector; it’s essentially the new Silicon Valley of Europe”, says Yvonne Agyei, whose role it is to help the company attract the best and brightest, no matter where they come from. Determined to improve the sustainability of its destinations and inspired by Amsterdam’s ever-evolving startup ecosystem, Booking.com launched its own sustainable tourism accelerator in 2017. And seven startups have already been awarded a total of €2 million.
Find out more about Amsterdam’s business ecosystem.