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Meet jury member Richard Daalmeijer

Startup in residence

Meet the Startup in Residence jury
drs. Richard Daalmeijer
Rabobank Regio Den Haag

Rabobank Regio Den Haag

Who are you and what is your daily work and background?

“My name is Richard Daalmeijer and I work for the Rabobank Regio Den Haag as SME team leader. The team consists of eleven young people who each have their own portfolio in SME. Each of the eleven has accounts which they manage in their own portfolio. Every 12 – 24  months, a business is asked: how is your business doing?

We also look strategically: what issues does the entrepreneur face? Are there any strategic dilemmas? We study these in our way and try to help think up solutions.

Within Rabobank, we also have the starters’ coordinator. This person works fulltime with starting entrepreneurs. This has become such a busy role that he has an assistant and an internal coordinator. We approach that subject seriously in Region The Hague. I also sit in on conversations with account managers. I look at the plans and try to give feedback.

When an entrepreneur starts a business, we want him to have a broad plan. For example: “I’m going to sell cups of coffee.” We then want to know: where are you going to do that, what are you going to sell, what will it generate, what marketing method will you use, who’s your target group? So we don’t just look at the financial plans. Imagine: you have an idea, you want to do something. The finances are part of that. You want to set up operations.

We then want to know: how much are you investing and what do you expect as return ?

The entrepreneur indicates that he or she has calculated a certain amount in costs, but what is that based on? In some cases, our experience is different and we therefore provide that as input to the entrepreneur.

Urban Startups

What is your personal experience with the developments of startups in the urban sector?

I love the fact that there are initiatives which aim to do something nice in the city and that great plans are being written for them. We also see those plans at the Rabobank. For example an initiative where a catering company wants to set up shop in a vacant building in the city. It cuts both ways.

It’s always nice to have a good plan which makes people happy. But nice things also have to be paid for. Nice things usually have a market; I think that they often create their own demand. But: how are you going to fund them, finance them? What about the revenue and the costs? That’s what interests me.

How is innovation intertwined with your daily life? What experience do you have with innovation? What makes innovation more or less successful?

I have a lot to do with innovation: seeing new plans, for new products, for opening up new markets, positioning a brand or company in a new way. For me, success factors for real entrepreneurship are: giving a project 100 percent of your time and energy and believing in it. Experience with entrepreneurship and being prepared to fall flat on your face and then get up and continue with the new reality which then exists. Experience: “I wouldn’t do that, why not look at that, for example. Sometimes the finances just don’t work. Then you’ll have to do it differently. We play a leading role in this as Rabobank. If we can’t finance it fully ourselves, we have partners who can finance part of it. There might be some crowdfunding, some reserved money, a bit of private equity. We then take on the ‘financial management’ and build towards a conglomerate of partnerships.

Imagine, for example, that there are legal challenges to a plan. Then we advise someone to go and talk to legal people. Otherwise it’s too much of a risk of us as a bank too. Once that’s sorted, it becomes more attractive for us as well.

Entrepreneurship in The Hague

What do you think about the business/innovation climate in The Hague?

Business has to be in your blood. You have to be prepared to fall down and then get up again. That’s the key. And then it’s nice if organisations like the Chamber of Commerce, the municipality and financial institutions cooperate. There’s a positive development in that respect in The Hague. They make an effort. That helps. But in general, the climate in The Hague is good. You sometimes hear people complaining about rules and regulations, but overall it’s good.

What you do see is that many entrepreneurs find it difficult to start. That’s why we have the starters’ desk.

Hopefully you’ll see it advertised in the city, for example on trams. And we have a starters’ clinic for people with questions. This clinic can help them directly or refer them on. In this way, we also hope to contribute to that climate in The Hague.

What do you think about the Startup in Residence programme?

I love the fact that the municipality is taking this initiative to enable entrepreneurs to think up and present a plan. And now it’s up to the wisdom of the jury to identify the good plans. It’s nice if it produces a couple of good projects. Which can then be developed. Often the initiators have good ideas and can use the support.

What is your motivation for taking part in this jury?

I was also at the Impact Startup Fest in the Caballero Fabriek where I was a jury member too and I did the reversed pitch. That gave me the opportunity to speak to startups. That was really nice! And it motivated me to join the jury of Startup in Residence. Startup in Residence gives a good basis for starters in the region of The Hague. And that allows Rabobank to show who we are and what we do, for example in our partnership programme.

What will you focus on during the judging (without giving anything away of course)/do you have any advice for them?

“I’ve mainly looked at the enthusiasm that I hope to see in the plan. In some, I think: this is going to work. In others, I think: this will be difficult. I try to see through the plan and discover the entrepreneur behind it. At the bank, they sit on the other side of the table. Here I read it. I imagine questions like: how realistic is the plan, how good has it been thought through? Can I use it somewhere else? How scalable is it?


What are you most interested in/do you hope to see/read?

I hope to see the entrepreneurship of the people who submit the plans.

That even if we say: you haven’t been selected, they’ll still continue. That they are prepared ‘to fall flat on their face’, listen to the feedback of people  around them and move on and ask themselves: what should I have done differently? And that they realise that they aren’t doing it alone. You need a market. And perhaps there are people in the jury who know something about your market and who can give you tips.

And this is entrepreneurship too: knowing what you’re good at and what not.

Because then you can ask other parties to help you. If you get help for things you aren’t good at yourself, you’ll go a long way.