Boris Veldhuizen van Zanten or Boris for short and Patrick de Laive started in 2005 the Next Web Conference to showcase their own startup. 12 years later the conference has grown into one of the largest technology conferences in the world, amassing 30.000 visitors this year. The idea to provide startups a platform to present themselves to a wide audience of potential investors, partners and customers has ever since remained a core part of the conference.
Besides providing early stage startups the unique possibility to present themselves to a large international audience this year TNW, now a scaleup itself, aims to help more proven companies. It has therefore launched a dedicated scaleup program, called Scale.
TNW’s focus on these themes stems form the broad public discourse on the large number of startups that fail, get acquired or remain small. It’s the scaleups that create the jobs and economic prosperity. In the Netherlands they form 6 percent of the total number of companies founded, but take 50% of the number of jobs created for their account.
But a lot of them don’t stay.
The problem of the Netherlands and Europe for that matter is the ‘scaleup drain.’ Unfortunately a lot of successful companies go to Silicon Valley or New York because of lack of funding and other opportunities. This is might be good for the particular scaleup (and understandable), but is absolutely detrimental for local startup ecosystems. And Europe needs local scaleups in order to create jobs, a tacit knowledge base on how to grow global firms and hopefully our own Fairchild Semiconductor or ‘Paypal Mafia.’
TNW believes it can play an important role in achieving this goal. “We believe that we have the corporate and the investor network needed for scale-ups to take their companies to the next level. We want to help them achieve these goals”, says Sebastien Toupy, the conference’s startup liaison.
TNW has therefore amassed a large number of corporate companies, investors and technology influencers to come to The Netherlands on May 18 and 19. More than 350 international investors are ready for dealmaking. Among them Tier-1 investors such as Union Square Ventures, Benchmark, Atomico, ETQ, Seedcamp, Silicon Valley Bank. Local VC’s such as Peak Capital and CVC KPN Ventures are also present.
The 50 startups selected for the scale program will be pitching for the first place to jurymembers from Angel Labs, IBM Ventures, Microsoft, Union Square Ventures and Atomico. Founders of scaleups that are not selected have ample opportunity to learn from their peers that are pitching and talk to the jurymembers at the conference.
‘Silicon Valley’s buzz words’
Inspired by Boyan Slat’s foundation The Ocean Cleanup that announced last week it has raised 21.7 millions USD in donations from tech moguls Marc Benioff and Peter Thiel the conference has also launched an Impact program. Here the focus is on supporting startups that are not building the next photo or “best way to send money to my friends” app.
TNW attempts with this program to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs and startups that are attacking ‘the worlds’ most difficult challenges.’ Toupy: “It was built because at TNW we believe that it is our role to support companies that use technology to make our world a better place, both from a social as well as from an environmental standpoint. It is not enough to use silicon valley’s buzz words, it is time to truly support impactful companies.”
Just as the Scale program the Impact program offers startups the opportunity to showcase their offerings at the conference and connect with relevant stakeholders such as strategic partners, potential clients, and seasoned investors. The other two startup programs are Bootstrap and Boost. As a startup you can still go to the conference for the discounted co-founder pack.