Dutch Startup Changemakers: Federico Maroli

We interviewed Federico Maroli, the President of ASIF Ventures. His mission there is to bridge the gap between student founders, recent graduates and PhD startups with the funding ecosystem in Amsterdam. Find out how Federico entered the startup world, what it is about entrepreneurship that attracts him, and what lessons for founders he learned over the years in the startup world!
Dark haired man in a white shirt posing for a photo in front of a brick wall covered with plants

1. Hi Federico, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?

My pleasure! I studied Economics in Maastricht, and then I moved to Rotterdam to do two Masters. During my first Master in International Economics, I was part of the first ASIF community, that was set up to help establish the ASIF Ventures name in the Amsterdam ecosystem and noticed my passion for entrepreneurship.

I did a second Master in Finance and Investments in Rotterdam, to broaden my theoretical knowledge on what drives investment decisions. Of course, you learn more while you invest, but having a solid theoretical base was my priority. Now I’m active as a full-time board member at ASIF Ventures.

2. You’re the President at ASIF Ventures. Tell us about your mission there!

ASIF Ventures bridges the gap between student founders, recent graduates and PhD startups with the funding ecosystem in Amsterdam.

Our role is to try to tear down the barriers of funding for young startups. Usually, when people look at VCs or investing in general, they see these unapproachable businesses. 

We step in at an early stage, while the startup hasn’t developed for a standard investor yet. For example, the team, the idea and the ambition are present, but the metrics for a more traditional VC aren’t present. We try to help startups in fostering the last steps, with capital and hands-on support. We want to be the go-to place for entrepreneurs, both for funding opportunities and for supporting them to commercialise their ideas.

3. What is it about entrepreneurship and venture capital that particularly attracts you?

For me, it’s about working in a dynamic environment, with people that are driven and passionate about what they do. I’m an economics and math kind of guy who likes to work with numbers. And I love working in an environment where these numbers make sense. Where people can take these numbers and use them as guidance to grow.

I see venture capital as the supportive arm because you can have the best ideas, the best team and the best product, but you also need capital and hands-on support for it.

4. Could you share the top 3 lessons for founders you learned over the years in the startup world?

1. Focussing on team dynamics – At a very early stage, it’s essential to have your team on board with your vision and interpersonal skills. It’s also vital that everyone gets along so that you can push through some tough moments in your career.

2. Don’t take a ‘no’ personally – Rejection is unavoidable. You’ll talk to a lot of investors, potential customers, advisors and people. There will be negative feedback, and sometimes entrepreneurs get discouraged. Try to see it as a challenge and turn the no-es into yes-es.

3. Solve a problem that you care about – In the long run, you will face difficulties such as; financial troubles, disagreements with the team, issues with the product… Everything is going to be much easier to endure if you’re passionate about the problem that you’re solving. 

5. What are your plans for the upcoming months, what will you focus on?

At ASIF, we’re going to continue being the ‘go-to place for young entrepreneurs’. We want to keep providing funding and hands-on support. We also offer engaging and educational events for the startup community, such as:

  • Pitch-events, where startups come and pitch their ideas or products and get feedback from the audience and a jury of experts.
  • Masterclasses, where experts from different industries give a workshop about what they are specialised in, so that interested people, can learn more about that.
  • Startup Crawls, in which we visit different startups and scaleups. Previously we worked with Uber, Picnic, ABN, and went to their offices, described what the startups do and explained the journey behind their achievements.

Finally, I’d like to mention that we recently hired a very diverse community of 17 part-time students who are fostering ASIF’s vision. So I’d like to give them a shout out for helping us out in the event organisation and content creation!

Thank you for your insights, Federico! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

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