The CEO of Flattire, Horia Alexandriu, studied Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Amsterdam, after which he embarked on an exciting journey with his mobile bicycle service. He is a part of Startupbootcamp’s Smart City and Living accelerator and he’s trying to help younger startup generations with his experience. Find out more about his background, the growth of Flattire; the pros, the cons and the predictions for the Dutch startup ecosystem in the near future.
1. Hi Horia, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and what is it about the startup world that particularly attracts you?
Thanks for having me! To keep it brief, I was born in Bucharest, Romania. Studied there for my Bachelor’s degree, and came to Amsterdam to do a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I’ve known for most of my life that I want to do this for a living. I wouldn’t call it the startup world, as much as the building companies world. Most people forget that startups are just aspiring companies :). What has always fascinated me about this is the sheer potential of it all. In an increasingly specialized world, where one’s work options narrow in field more and more, being a part of a startup offers an explosion of possibilities, while it keeps your curiosity up for long periods of time.
2. Your mobile bicycle service connects bike users and repair professionals. Tell us about Flattire.nl and your experience as a Dutch startup.
We started Flattire as a fun student project. Not long after, we realized that there was much more potential than we initially hoped, and we (me and my two co-founders) turned it into a full-time thing. It’s been almost 5 years since, and it’s a hell of a journey. A part of me keeps whispering that the journey has actually only just begun. We’ll be setting up expansions to other Dutch cities this year, and hopefully, take it to the next level.
3. Coming from another country can you give us an outside view of the Dutch startup ecosystem? What do you feel are its strengths and what needs work?
Well, although I am not that acquainted with the Romanian startup scene, I can definitely see some pros and cons to the Dutch one, especially regarding the mystical (Angels and Unicorns) realm of Silicon Valley. The strength of the Dutch ecosystem is definitely the very dense and homogeneous high-income customer base. If you’ve got something awesome to offer, most people will be able to afford it and the word will travel fast. The weakness is that the market is rather small. This could be considered as a hidden strength since you pay a smaller price for screwing up, but the truth is, you need to be prepared to go international fast. Also, while the purchasing power is rather high, the investment scene is lacking few key areas, like proper seed rounds (although cute, a 50K round isn’t proper seed money).
4. You were selected as a Dutch Startup Changemaker because there are people who see great potential in you. How do you feel you influence the Dutch startup scene and what are you personally doing to change it for the better?
Being a part of Startupbootcamp’s Smart City and Living accelerator means joining a lot of events and giving useful advice to younger startup generations. I’ve got a lot of ideas for improving the startup ecosystem, but they will have to wait for now, as Flattire keeps me quite busy.
5. What do you predict for the Dutch startup ecosystem in the near future?
Brexit, as well as the weird situation in the States, will probably mean a large influx of highly qualified people moving to the Netherlands, as it is among the few countries where not knowing the local language is almost no barrier to doing business. This, together with a forward thinking policy strategy will probably lead to a “Silicon Valley”-ation of Amsterdam in particular. Whether that will clash with the existing culture is to be seen, but times are changing, and the Dutch startup ecosystem will be quite different 3 years from now if you ask me. I expect the funding situation to change as well, and hopefully, we’ll also see a rise in local tech IPOs as opposed to external buyouts.
Thank you, Horia for sharing your experience and insights with us. Keep the good work with Flattire!