Welcome to The Scale Lab podcast: Intro episode

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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Seasoned entrepreneurs such as Robert Vis, Ali Niknam, Joelle Frijters, and Taco Carlier are sharing the ups and downs of their founder journeys. What are their key learnings that every startup founder should know? Listen now to find out!

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Constantijn van Oranje - Special Envoy

Constantijn van Oranje leads, the accelerator for the tech ecosystem in the  Netherlands. As Special Envoy he is on a mission to turn The Netherlands into a unicorn nation. He and his team connect the Dutch tech ecosystem to help ambitious and promising Dutch Tech startups grow fast internationally by improving their access to capital, market, talent, and technologies.

Constantijn co-founded StartupFest Europe, which is still the biggest start-up event ever organized in The Netherlands. He used to be Chief of Staff of VP Neelie Kroes at the European Commission in charge of the Digital Agenda and lead the Brussels office of the RAND Corporation.

He is currently also Director Digital Technology & Macro Strategy at Macro Advisory Partners in London and New York and Edge Fellow at Deloitte Centre for the Edge.


Joe Wilson - Entrepreneur in Residence

Joe spends time with companies and people that inspire him. He is the founder of Risenu, a Netherlands-based company focused on investing and ensuring startup companies succeed and give back while they profit.  Joe’s experience from running startups to managing billion-dollar businesses on the world stage brings a unique view on both strategy and hardcore tactical results.

Joe is the veteran of 5 startups ranging from a home repair service to interactive 3D platforms, HR tech, Logistics and Martech companies across cloud, SaaS and on premise. He currently works in an advisory or board capacity for several tech companies and leads the Entrepreneur in Residence program for scaleups with Prior to Risenu, Joe was Chief Marketing and Operations Officer for Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe, Worldwide General Manager of Microsoft’s Developer Relations as well as Global Senior Director for Student Programs.

He worked and lived with his family across Europe and Asia. Finally, he serves on the board of directors for the American School of the Hague and bunq and volunteers with his family at the charities and 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 back most Dutch entrepreneurs?

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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