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 access point to entrepreneurial success in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. 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.
Want to know more about StartupAmsterdam and the team behind the programme? Get the full lowdown at our Who we are page, where you can read all about our five organisational pillars, the kind of work we do, and the specific ways in which we can help you realise your dreams.
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.
I have a startup business idea
Got an idea for a business? Amazing. This is where it all begins. Ideas spark change and break down boundaries. Ideas improve lives and advance society. Sometimes, ideas are just really, really fun. Every successful startup in the world began with a spark in somebody’s mind. They can come to us while we’re studying, while we’re working, or just while we’re living our daily lives.
If a good one has come to you (lucky you!) then you’ll probably want to know whether it’s possible to turn your idea into a business. And more importantly, how. Thankfully, you’re in the right place.
Starting your own business in Amsterdam
As an entrepreneur, you need access to the right resources to help you kick-start, scale up, accelerate and grow your startup in Amsterdam. Luckily, there are a wealth of resources available to you. Here is an overview of the kinds of help available – and we’ll go into more detail about each one further down this page.
Ideas may start as small seeds, but with the right support and guidance they can quickly sprout into a viable business proposition. Grow and develop your idea with the help of mentors, coaches and incubators, and create a solid business plan. Anybody you talk to about your startup from now on will probably ask to see a presentation deck, so keep yours honed, up to date and the best it can be.
Find 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.
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.
An incubator helps entrepreneurs polish up and pad out their business ideas. They can provide everything fledgling startups need to grow, including access to experienced mentors, potential sources of funding and a supportive community.
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.
How do I find an investor for my startup?
Amsterdam has a wealth of resources to help startups find potential investors. From regional to national initiatives, small investments for startups to larger amounts for scale-ups, matchmaking forums to industry-specific investment streams, you can find a whole list of potential avenues in our fundraising guide, which is regularly updated with the latest informational resources, tools and funding options for startups growing in Amsterdam. And if your startup directly tackles societal challenges or has sustainability at its heart, then all the better – for the planet, and for your chances of securing investment in the Netherlands.
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.
Accelerate your startup
An accelerator does what it says on the tin: it speeds things up. Turbo boost your company with the help of Amsterdam’s many awesome international and locally founded accelerators – a list of which can be found on our accelerators and incubators page, with resources for sector-specific startups, programmes focused on female and minority entrepreneurs, and handy tips for growing your network.
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.
And of course, you can always reach out to our startup liaison for additional support.
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.
Ready? OK, let’s go.
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 and scale-ups can’t thrive in a vacuum – they need an ecosystem packed with everything required to succeed. Amsterdam is full of places to make new connections, learn valuable skills and find the support your business demands.
Live to work or work to live? No matter what your answer is, you’ll need a place to work from. Luckily, Amsterdam has many internationally renowned co-working spaces, in which you can base your business and make useful friends over the watercooler.
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.
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.
Aside from the startup event calendar for your weekly updates on local meetups and talks, there are a number of unmissable annual events in Amsterdam, with some highlights including:
- TNW Conference – This is one of the biggest intimate tech festivals in the world. On stage at the 2016 edition, Gary Vaynerchuk said the conference was “unbelievable” and “the nicest set-up to a conference” he’d ever seen. We wholeheartedly agree.
- The Self-Made Summit – This event connects female starters, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals with each other and with knowledge, capital and networks.
- Amsterdam Capital House – For one week each year, Amsterdam becomes the capital of capital. With a programme that boasts over 25 events, Amsterdam Capital House focuses on connecting various types of capital with early-stage startups and fast-growing scale-up companies.
- Amsterdam eWeek (October) – The Amsterdam eWeek is a festival for international and local companies in the tech, marketing and media sectors. The festival offers a range of workshops, conferences, walk-ins, dinners, meet-ups, parties and networking events.
- World Summit AI (October) – This event brings together the main driving forces of AI in one conference: multinational businesses, startups, investors and deep tech. It is the result of a unique collaboration between the global City AI network and over 100 international AI events.
- CES Unveiled – This showcase of the latest consumer technology regularly stops by in Amsterdam, presenting products by promising startups as well as established brands.
- Immersive Tech Week – The Immersive Tech Week is the virtual/hybrid companion event for VR Days Europe, with both iterations focussing on the impact of immersive technologies on business, science and the arts.
- Codemotion – The multitrack tech conference for software developers is held in Amsterdam annually.
- Blue Tulip Awards – The Blue Tulip Awards recognise and reward innovation by Netherlands-based startups.
- Money 2020 Europe – This industry event sees leading figures of finance and FinTech come together in Amsterdam.
- IBC – Previously known as the International Broadcasting Convention, this annual show for media, entertainment and technology is an industry stalwart and has had its home in Amsterdam for decades.
- TEDxAmsterdamWomen – With the mission to increase equality in all aspects of life and work, TEDxAmsterdamWomen provides a stage to present original ideas for supporting women in society and the workplace.
- Women in Technology World Series – Explore what’s next for the tech sector and connect with like-minded professionals at this unmissable event that features more than 100 speakers and 1500 attendees over three days.
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.
Discover our top tech communities in Amsterdam – they’re always open to new members. Find online communities for entrepreneurs if you prefer to network digitally, or see a list of local programmes and initiatives specifically aimed at women in tech. There is also a pretty extensive list of tech summer courses, including re-skilling programmes and specialised workshops.
Careers & training
Working in startups in Amsterdam
Whether you’re searching for your first job at a startup, or you’re looking to enhance your network and find your next role, there’s an impressive array of resources and initiatives for startup talent in Amsterdam.
Where to look for startup jobs
Finding a job can be tough, but knowing where to look makes things a little easier. In addition to our job board, we also have a hand-picked selection of events, tech communities and academies.
Startup training and academies
While Amsterdam’s universities are highly regarded, but of course, but 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!
And, in an attempt to close the gender gap in tech, these women in tech initiatives are aimed at encouraging women and girls to consider a career in tech, and training them for the industry.
News, reports and features
There are numerous news sources on the Dutch and Amsterdam startup scene. On our latest news page, we present funding roundups and cover news about which opportunities are available and how the city’s developing. We also provide news about data and reports, and our insights page includes how-tos, guides and in-depth features. If you want to hear directly from startup entrepreneurs, visit our testimonials page, where you will get valuable information on how their companies paved their way to success. Lastly, our Founders Fridays interviews also offer a real insider’s perspective, as successful Amsterdam-based entrepreneurs tell us about their startup journey in their own words.
We hope we’ve equipped you with all of the knowledge you need to succeed in your startup journey. Remember that we’re always here to help if you have any questions, and our website is continually updated with resources, opportunities and information for startup founders, employees and investors.
Get regular updates
Our bi-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.
Naturally, Amsterdam’s startup community is represented on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also join the Accelerator Squared community to stay up to date on news, upcoming events, opportunities and more.