In this introduction episode, our hosts Constantijn van Oranje & Joe Wilson discuss the opportunities & hurdles of scaling a tech startup in the Netherlands. They appraise the cultural differences between the Dutch & other countries’ mentalities and reflect on how those might affect the ambition levels of entrepreneurs. Closer to the end, we learn the ‘why’ behind this podcast series and the hosts’ expectations from it.

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About Constantijn van Oranje – Special Envoy at Techleap

Constantijn van Oranje leads, accelerating the Dutch tech ecosystem. As Special Envoy, he strives to transform the Netherlands into a unicorn hub. His team aids Dutch startups in global growth by enhancing their access to capital, market, talent, and tech.

He co-founded StartupFest Europe, the largest Dutch startup event. Formerly Chief of Staff for VP Neelie Kroes at the European Commission, he directed the Brussels office of RAND Corp.

Currently Director at Macro Advisory Partners and Edge Fellow at Deloitte Centre for the Edge.

Introducing Joe Wilson – Entrepreneur in Residence at Techleap

Joe is inspired by companies and people. Founder of Netherlands-based Risenu, he drives startups to succeed while giving back. With vast experience across startups and billion-dollar businesses, his unique view combines strategy and tactical results.

A veteran of 5 startups, Joe covers a range from home repair to tech platforms. He advises tech companies and leads’s scaleup program. Formerly with Microsoft, he’s well-versed in marketing, operations, and student programs.

Living across Europe and Asia, Joe serves on boards and volunteers with his family for causes they believe in.

6 questions we will address to each guest

  1. Product-Market Fit: What is your product-market-fit story?
  2. Talent – What were the most important hires you made and why?
  3. Capital – What were the most difficult discussions you had about seeking VC investment for your company? (internally or externally).
  4. Going International – When did you know you had to go international? How did you approach doing that the first time?
  5. Were there any pivots along the way? When did you make the pivot from product to sales-oriented company?
  6. What do you think holds most Dutch entrepreneurs back?

Key highlights

5:08 – Constantijn – “There’s a very high urge to innovate. We (i.e. Dutch) are good architects, good designers in general. Building a business to make a lot of money doesn’t seem to drive Dutch people in the same way compared to other countries. It’s more about making an impact.”

8:50 – Joe – “We need people whose auto-reaction is not ‘take it slow, be pragmatic, don’t take any risk.”

9:15 – Joe – ” I don’t see a path to this type of growth that we discuss without the risk piece being there. Take a chance, go bigger, try harder. Not just work more, but try to envision bigger.”

12:32 – Constantijn – “We have a small market. So somewhere in the mindset you have to immediately introduce that you’re building a business that should go beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands.”

15:00 – Constantijn – “I don’t think we’ve done a lot in the Netherlands to attract talent. In fact, Amsterdam – and the Netherlands in general – are ranked quite highly for livability, and people do want to come here, but we haven’t ever done wide skill acquisition.”

27:23 – Constantijn – “I think that this podcast should really contribute to sharing the insights of seasoned entrepreneurs. And if we can capture the insights of why some of those entrepreneurs have been successful, I think that’s something very valuable for the ecosystem.”

34:38 – Joe – “This podcast is about helping tech companies in the Netherlands, figuring out what it means to scale by showing them the people who have successfully done it.”

36:05 – Constantijn – “I hope to bring to the air some of our best and brightest entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, understand where they made a difference, what personal sacrifices they made, what choices they made, what came on their path, how they reacted.”

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