Funding your startup
Your startup already has a golden solution to a real-world problem. Here’s how to find investment – from seed funding to venture capital – to take your business to the next level.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a FinTech, MedTech or SaaS startup or scale-up, you need money in the bank to develop your innovative product. And that’s where an investor can come in to save the day and perhaps help you grow from lean startup to the next unicorn. This guide gives you a comprehensive overview of all the avenues to pursue in your search for seed capital in Amsterdam. Luckily, it’s a well-connected ecosystem and there are plenty of networks and platforms to join that might just lead to the cash injection that changes everything.
Read up on venture capital resources
Startups in Amsterdam can access a wide variety of resources for finding potential investors. Here are a few organisations that invest in startups, along with tools and tips that will help you gather information about possible funding options as you start your journey to financing.
- At a provincial level, Programma Investeringsgereed Innovatief MKB (PIM) helps startups and scale-ups from mission-driven sectors including energy transition & sustainability, agriculture, water & food, health & care or safety, with advice and insights about financing options. PIM also connects entrepreneurs to its robust network of financiers and potential partners.
- At the national level, there are a variety of government-supported initiatives designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) find financing.
- If you are a non-profit, there’s the European Fundraising Association for the latest news.Looking to find smaller-scale investors? Consider joining the Dutch non-profit startup platform Kinder.
- If you are working for a startup and looking for funding, check out Techleap‘s Funding Allies. In this overview, you can find advisors, consultants and platforms that can help you attract a suitable investor.
- Ready to Scale? If you’ve outgrown the startup phase and are ready for the next step, this handy e-publication will guide you through the process of scaling up. They also have a handy funding database tool to help you identify the perfect investors.
- Entrepreneurs seeking to directly tackle societal challenges should visit our city partners Amsterdam Impact for insights and check out their useful overview of funding sources for impact enterprises.
- Also of interest to startups with impact at their heart, Invest NL helps entrepreneurs in the Netherlands to realise their sustainable missions through financing and business development support. Focus areas include carbon neutrality, circular economy and innovative healthcare.
- Amsterdam-based DuurzaamInvesteren.nl is a crowdfunding platform for sustainable projects in the Netherlands.There are platforms specifically created to help match startups with VCs and angel investors, including NLfunding, Operator Exchange and Fundsup. Startups can also speed up the fundraising process by building a long list from hundreds of investors on Startup Fountain.
- Many accelerators and incubators also have their own networks of potential investors, providing all the support startups need to grow. Check out our list for inspiration and ideas.
- The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK, has a handy roundup of tips and tricks for finding investors.
- If you’re interested in finding out how the financing process works in the Netherlands, Business.gov.nl has a complication of government information for entrepreneurs, including general information on financing, subsidies, tax schemes and benefits, funding and loans.
- InvestorMatch pairs investors with pre-vetted entrepreneurs through a financing platform that makes it easy to invest directly in innovative startups and SMEs.
- The result of a collaboration between Rabobank and KplusV, Money Meets Ideas is an informal investing platform that offers investors the opportunity to connect with ambitious entrepreneurs who are looking for risk-bearing capital and expertise. Each year, around 20 events are organised, inviting startups and fast-growing innovative companies that are looking for between €100,000 and €1 million in funding to present themselves to approximately 15 to 20 wealthy private investors.
- Our Startup Map is a great tool to get a grasp on the investors active in Amsterdam – and how to get your company on the radar. Companies are categorised as startup or scale-up, and by industry, business model, size or growth. The map gives you access to information about investors, the team, focus, portfolio, who they co-invest with and more.
Try different approaches to startup funding
- When it comes to financing, ‘angel investor’ and ‘venture capitalist’ tend to get top billing, but there are many alternatives to these options. Here we’ve outlined both the well- and lesser-known pathways that have led to Amsterdam’s most successful enterprises. See which options align best with your business, and don’t forget that every introduction could be a potential mentor or partner, even if you don’t achieve financing the first time.
- Angel: Investing in a startup could be as simple as financing your sister’s or son’s brilliant new app. However, if you don’t have an infant prodigy you can still be an angel investor. Angel investors, also known as business angels, informal or seed investors, usually invest between €25,000 and €100,000 in a company. Angels typically give loans to a company, buy stock from a company and require a return on investment.
- Venture capitalist (VC): A venture capital firm can invest millions into a company. In the Netherlands, we distinguish between seed capital funds, corporate venturing funds and regular venture capital funds. To find out more about the intricate world of venture capital, we recommend reading the book Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.
- Grants and subsidies: If your startup focuses on innovation, research or sustainability, you may be eligible for government subsidies. RVO.nl, the national government agency that provides subsidies, has various opportunities for entrepreneurs. The government has also set aside €75 million for its Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan designed to help startups access capital. To find out which forms of government funding are available to you, check out the Startup Box, an online tool that helps you to determine if there is Dutch government funding suitable for your startup.
- Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding has rapidly become a serious source of funding for startups, with a wide array of useful platforms. Crowdfunding agency Douw&Koren has neatly arranged the platforms by category here, or use the crowdfund wijzer (Dutch) to find your perfect match. Meanwhile, GoGetFunding is a successful crowdfunding website that focuses on more personal causes and projects.
- Bank loan or credit: Many big banks, including ABN-AMRO, ING Bank and Rabobank, offer loan packages for new businesses, but keep in mind that these banks tend to have a quota for each of the various types of startups they lend to each year, so it may take a bit of luck and a lot of sound preparation to secure a loan.
- Rabo Innovation Loan: Rabobank also offers loans between €25,000 and €150,00 under the terms that the first two years are interest-only, to finance startups that contribute to sustainability, digitisation or society.
- Factoring: If you have trouble getting financing through a bank, invoice factoring may provide a flexible solution to cover your operational costs. Factoring processes your accounts receivables as sellable assets, so you receive immediate payment for them, instead of having to wait for your customers to settle their invoices. Companies like Amsterdam-based Finqle, FlowFactoring and Factris allow you to upload your invoices, which they pay out in cash within one business day, and since the invoice is now theirs, you don’t have to worry about credit management.
- Aid package for the coronavirus crisis: If your startups need a loan of between €10,000 and €50,000 to offset the impact of the coronavirus crisis, you may be eligible for a corona-bridging loan or microcredit through Qredits.
If you want to learn more about the basic types of investments and interesting alternatives to traditional forms of fundraising, read this article on PIM (in Dutch).
Amsterdam-based funding opportunities
When you’ve done your research and refined your pitch, these are the organisations that can fund your startup. Their diverse areas of expertise have something to offer early-stage startups needing seed funding or scale-ups in search of venture capital to go global.
- PIM invests in sustainable, innovative and healthy startups, strengthening the ecosystem by pairing new businesses with capital and answering their financing questions through tailor-made advice, insights about funding options, and a series of information-packed master classes.
- A group of startup bankers, Amsterdam Venture Partners helps founders raise Seed & Series A funding from Europe’s leading investors.
- If you are a university spinoff, seeking to connect with the latest innovations coming out of academia, or interested in setting up a public-private partnership, check out the Innovation Exchange Amsterdam (IEX).
- Bringing an AI-related healthcare innovation to market? Join the supportive Smart Health Amsterdam network.
- Innovatiefund Noord Holland is a new fund that supports initiatives in the province of Noord-Holland, which means Amsterdam-based businesses are welcome to apply.
- An action-packed monthly networking event that works like speed dating for startups, Startup Roulette pairs businesses with relevant investors (VCs and angels) giving each startup three 20-minute ‘dates’ with well-matched investors.
- The can’t-miss startup event of the year, Amsterdam Capital House brings the whole ecosystem together and inspires meaningful connections between new businesses and capital.
- Finding funding opportunities online or by bike with Capital Tour XXL, an event that traditionally invites startups on a cycling tour to visit a selection of investors in Amsterdam and discover the startup capital ecosystem in one day, but is currently taking place online.
- Arches Capital: This fast-growing group of business angels bridges the gap between VCs and angels by sourcing, selecting and investing like a VC, but engaging and mentoring like angels. Each month they release a list of ‘startups fundraising right now’ on their LinkedIn page.
- Fundright is an initiative launched by Dutch VCs and Techleap that encourages a more diverse ecosystem by providing fair access to funding and business opportunities.
- Toronto-based investor ClearBlanc is actively looking to fund Amsterdam startups. They focus their financing on e-commerce and consumer SaaS companies, using highly effective predictive models that look at revenue, ad performance and other third-party data to generate offers.
- One of the best ways to join the ecosystem is to attend events. StartupAmsterdam maintains a regularly updated roundup of upcoming networking events.
- Leapfunder makes it easier for angel investors to find promising startups. They offer regular events including online workshops and sessions aimed at connecting startups and investors in an informal setting.
- The Amsterdam Academic Angel fund invests in very early-stage startups founded by students or recent graduates from the Vrije Universiteit and the University of Amsterdam.
- At Appl.ia, an initiative of applied research institution TNO, 50% financing is offered to any industrial use case related to AI.
Best of luck with accessing capital, and remember to check out our other helpful resources to help your business grow. Get the digital expertise you need with our guide to recruiting tech talent, and learn about how (and when) to expand from startup to scale-up. And when it’s time to go international, find out all you need to know about scaling and going abroad.