ABN AMRO is an all-round Dutch bank that offers a full range of products and services to retail, private & corporate clients. The bank’s interest in startups has grown over the last few years and the team is working hard on educating investors & improving the investment climate for startups. They are also the lead sponsor of our XXL Round Table Sessions! Find out why they chose to work with us & more about their projects in our interview with their Innovation Manager, Jasper Verbeek.
Interview with Jasper Verbeek from ABN AMRO
1. Hi Jasper, thanks a lot for agreeing to do the interview! Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work at ABN AMRO and your interest in startups.
I have been working with and for startups for the past 4 years. As a marketer for SME, I was responsible for the starting entrepreneur segment within ABN AMRO. At first, the startup segment was just a small part of the total SME market. However, during the past years, the startup segment grew and startups became an example for lots of other entrepreneurs in The Netherlands.
Currently, I am working as an Innovation Manager. I work with startups to learn from them, to create additional services and educate employees about trends and new skills. It’s the technological development and methods startups use to turn opportunities into new business models which intrigue me in startups.
2. ABN AMRO is the lead sponsor of our XXL Round Table Sessions. Why did you decide to sponsor the events and what do you think they bring to the Dutch ecosystem?
The Round Table Sessions are the perfect way for startups to learn from experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors and VC’s. The latter have a lot of knowledge regarding business models, experience in the sector and see a lot of different enterprises.
Startups, especially those still in an early stage, often depend on private equity. It is important for them to translate their business ideas to the interests of an investor. The round table sessions offer a way for startups to test their pitch or business model with a group of specialists and investors. After the round table session, they will have an idea whether their pitch is ready for the real thing. And sometimes it may happen that offers for investments are made during the closing drinks.
The events bring together investors and startups in an informal setting without obligations. It is very educational for both startups and investors.
3. Many of ABN AMRO’s clients are potential investors in startups. What is ABN AMRO doing to connect startups to the capital of its wealthier clients? What is your opinion on this and how can it be improved?
For instance, we sponsor the Leapfunder round table sessions. We do several demo days for incubators and accelerators all year round where startups can pitch for our wealthier clients. For our wealthier clients, we have informal investments. This service connects fast growing companies to investors.
I think the investment climate can be improved by educating investors on what is important when investing in startups. We and other investors are used to doing investments based on a track record. An early stage startup with a track record is rare. The methods of a startup company differ from those of a traditional company. Startups are looking for a fast scalable business model. Extensive knowledge in other aspects of the success ratio of startups, besides a track record, is necessary to analyze the probability of success. Creating methods that look towards other aspects of the startup, like the team and the execution power, will improve the investment climate for startups.ABN AMRO tries to learn also by investing in the start/scale-ups ecosystem. We have a Digital impact and a Social Impact fund. We invest in companies for our own development and to stimulate Social Entrepreneurs in The Netherlands.
ABN AMRO tries to learn also by investing in the start/scale-ups ecosystem. We have a Digital impact and a Social Impact fund. We invest in companies for our own development and to stimulate Social Entrepreneurs in The Netherlands.
4. What do you think about Leapfunder as a way of angel funding the early stage startups?
Leapfunder is a great way to get experience in funding early stage startups. It includes a network of experienced angel investors and a wide range of promising startups. Services like the round table sessions show how to combine an online platform with face to face encounters where you can meet startups to invest in. They also educate entrepreneurs in dealing with private investments to make sure the best possible choices and deals are made.
5. Tell us about ABN AMRO’s future plans to help make the Netherlands more innovative, help startups excel and mobilise innovation within the bank.
We continue to co-create and learn from and with startups in the financial sector. In 2015, The Startup Orgy and ABN AMRO built a co-working space in an old bank office. Here, we organise different events to contribute to the ecosystem. In 2016, we will also contribute to other co-working spaces and incubators in the Netherlands. For instance, we are a founding partner of Tech Quarters the new tech-hub of TheNextWeb and Google in the centre of Amsterdam. They will open their doors this spring. In these places, we will provide extra services for startups, e.g. open office hours where startups can meet and receive advice from different financial experts.
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