Your all-in-one guide to Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem
Amsterdam welcomes dreamers and disruptors. Check out our guide to Amsterdam’s startup scene and start turning your brilliant idea into entrepreneurial success.
Hello there, bright mind! Welcome to Amsterdam. Home to the world’s dreamers and disruptors ever since the 16th century, the Dutch capital is a city where things have always been done a little differently. A place where ideas take hold, and real change begins. And today we’re proud to keep that flame of innovation alive in our startup ecosystem. As a hub and a test bed, a launchpad and a talent pool, Amsterdam is the ideal home for startups and scale-ups alike – and a place where dreams can, and frequently do, come true. Just ask our unicorns.
Whether you’re an international business founder who’s interested in making the move to the Dutch capital or a local entrepreneur with a big idea, we’re here to help you navigate through Amsterdam’s startup community. With your clever brain, our world-class ecosystem, and this website as your guide, anything is possible. So, let’s dive in.
Who is StartupAmsterdam, and how can we help you?
StartupAmsterdam is your ultimate guide to Amsterdam's startup and tech ecosystem. Created in 2015, we’re an action programme run by the City of Amsterdam that brings the public and private sectors together to support startups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs and other players in the local ecosystem and international community.
Working with the private sector, StartupAmsterdam is responsible for more than 40 projects, initiatives and campaigns that create impactful synergies and put Amsterdam on the map of global entrepreneurial and tech ecosystems.
Need investment, mentoring, a supportive network or tech talent? It’s all here in the startup capital of Europe – and it’s our job to help you find it. Think of us as your guide on this exciting journey. The wise hermit with the startup map (more on that below) and the magical amulets. We’ll be your signpost, your resource directory and your friend on your way to startup success.
Amsterdam Startup Map
Every good adventurer knows to check the map before setting out on their journey and use it to stay on the right path along the way. How do you look for startups and investors in Amsterdam? How do you get a clear overview of Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem? One of StartupAmsterdam’s key tools is the Amsterdam Startup Map, powered by Dealroom. The gateway to Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem, the Startup Map showcases the ecosystem’s stakeholders: not only startups, but scale-ups and investors too.
Search for companies, investors, people and lists. Filter through the data by sector, business model, size or growth, or find useful resources, such as workspaces and accelerators.
Once you’ve set up shop in Amsterdam, make sure to add your startup to the map for maximum exposure – this visibility can pave the way to talent, connections and capital. Simply create a Dealroom account or log in using your LinkedIn account.
Fing your tribe
Your startup’s success depends on a whole load of things – but having the right people in your crew is one of the best ways to achieve it. Many startups find that three is the magic number when it comes to co-founders, with each person bringing a different skill set to the mix.
If you’re looking for a startup soulmate to join you on your journey, or you want to curate a whole team of experts to work with, there are many initiatives and programmes in Amsterdam aimed at connecting bright people. Another great way to meet like-minded people is to join a co-working space. More than just a home for your business, Amsterdam’s growing number of co-working spaces offer an instant community.
Startup and tech events
Becoming part of the community is all about making connections: by joining meetups, conferences and workshops, you’ll understand why this cosmopolitan city is renowned for its village-like feel. Our extensive startup calendar shows all startup and tech-related events that take place in Amsterdam. You can also submit your own startup event.
Join an incubator programme
Nurture your startup with the help of one of Amsterdam’s incubators. New ideas need room to grow. And care, and support, and the occasional pat on the head. Designed to help startups through the challenges of their early infancy, startup incubators are collaborative, non-profit programmes which help startup founders solve some common problems by providing workspace, seed funding, mentoring and training.
Incubators cover all industries, though if your business has sustainability or societal change at its core, then check out some of the incubator programmes available specifically for impact entrepreneurs.
Legal and financial matters
There are legal steps every entrepreneur must take to start a business in the Netherlands – from registering your business to ensuring you have the right visas (if you or your employees are coming from outside the EU) and securing IP rights. Find out about legal matters and permits. You’ll need good lawyers and accountants on your side. We can help you with that. This step-by-step guide provides a helpful overview of what you need to do to ensure all official matters are taken care of.
Fundraising and investors
OK, so you have your idea. You have your business plan. You’ve set everything up and you might have already joined an incubator programme. But where do you find the money to take it to the next level? No matter how big or small you want your business to be, you’ll need some capital to get it off the ground.
There are lots of different ways to get the funds to secure the growth of your startup. Head to our complete fundraising guide to find out all the ways that you can access capital as a startup or scale-up in Amsterdam.
When it comes to investors, you’ve probably heard of angel investors and venture capitalists before. Also known as business angels, informal or seed investors, angel investors usually invest between €25,000 and €100,000 in a company and require a return on investment. Meanwhile, venture capitalists (VCs) can invest millions into a company. In the Netherlands, we distinguish between seed capital funds, corporate venturing funds and regular venture capital funds.
Alternative ways to access funding include grants and subsidies, crowdfunding, bank loans or credit, or factoring.
Every business will need, at some point, to hire employees. And not just any old employees – the perfect ones with the particular skills and passion you need to help your business grow. For a lot of companies, employees are the biggest expense, so choosing the right people that fit with and benefit your company most is extremely important on your way to success. Here are our tips on how to find skilled tech talent for your startup team.
Launching customers are key to startup success, and there are many different ways of accessing them, depending on where you want to look. Read more about how to find launching customers among corporates, SMEs and in local government.
Are you ready to scale?
OK. You have your business. You have your crew. You have your cash flow. Are you ready to take the leap to the next level?
There’s no set time limit by which a startup can become a scale-up – it’s all down to the individual business and, largely, to the gut instincts of its founders. Only you can know when the time is right, but here’s a handy checklist and some tips from founders who’ve made the leap, just to be sure.
When you are ready, here’s our guide to conquering new markets for your company on a global scale. Amsterdam and the Netherlands provide solid support for startups and scale-ups looking beyond the borders, with bootcamps, mentorship, access to international networks and trade missions all geared towards helping your company become a global success.
Startups with science-based products or services, particularly in the life sciences and health field, should not overlook the city’s innovation districts and living labs. The Amsterdam Life Sciences District, the Amsterdam Science Park and other hubs are thriving centres of cross-sector collaboration and scientific excellence. They are also known for strong startup communities, for example in the Science Park’s Startup Village.
Another player in the startup ecosystem: venture builders. Unlike traditional incubators and accelerators, they come up with their own ideas for products or services and develop them in-house, raising capital and sharing resources along the way.
Amsterdam has an active community of tech lovers: be they founders, UXers, geeks, nerds, hipsters, growth hackers or developers. With over 40 co-working spaces and more than 500 tech meetups in Amsterdam, you are sure to find like-minded peers.
Looking for a job at a startup?
Startup training and academies
While Amsterdam’s universities are highly regarded. That said, depending on their programme, students often graduate with no practical skills. This leads to them being unable to find relevant work experience, while startups and companies struggle to find skilled talent. The solution? Amsterdam’s finest startup and coding academies!
News, reports and features
There are numerous news sources on the Dutch and Amsterdam startup scene, such as Silicon Canals, Sprout, Emerce, Quote and de Ondernemer. Our Insights & Interviews page offers city data sources and lists international rankings Amsterdam excells at. There, we also feature how-tos, guides and in-depth features. If you want to hear directly from startup entrepreneurs, check out our #FoundersFridays interview series: Amsterdam-based entrepreneurs tell us about their startup journey in their own words.
Get regular updates
Our monthly newsletter is a curated round-up of startup happenings in Amsterdam. Stay informed about funding opportunities, find out what your peers are up to and check out upcoming events and network gatherings. Don’t miss out – sign up now.