He’s been a serial entrepreneur since age thirteen. When he found himself at the crossroads of university and entrepreneurship, he picked the latter and never looked back. The Hague Tech founder Brian Gharibaan’s resume sparks the imagination. We checked in with him to hear his thoughts on how the tech community in The Hague is doing and where it should be headed.
“We think the potential of technology is not yet used to its fullest in Dutch society,” Brian says. “The Hague, governance city at heart, is faced with technological challenges. The tech community needs to take initiative in proactively connecting to universities, local and regional governments and the private sector. Together, we can most meaningfully build the future.”
Empowering the tech community
The Hague Tech was launched late last year. It is a brand new community space in the heart of the city that aims to unite talented companies under one roof. “We want to encourage collaboration between creative talent, business, government and research institutions,” Brian explains.
“We believe collaboration can fire up tech ideas that will change society,” he adds. To this end, The Hague Tech is cultivating a vibrant online and offline tech community by offering office space, events and workshops, as well as research and development.
“Techies need to take initiative in proactively connecting to universities, local and regional governments and the private sector. Together, we can most meaningfully build the future” – Brian Gharibaan, founder at The Hague Tech
The Hague: full of opportunity
“The City of The Hague is full of opportunity. It’s not saturated like Amsterdam and Rotterdam,” Brian argues adamantly. “The circumstances here are great to start a high-quality company. There are tons of well-educated people available to fill positions, the cost of living is low, the quality of life is amazing, the region and market are very much internationally orientated. I could go on and on.”
It’s obvious to him that The Hague would be the best pragmatic choice for many startups, but the city’s image management is lagging behind. “There’s lots of startups and scale-ups in the city, but they’re not very visible. I guess you could argue that the city’s marketing is not up-to-speed yet,” he says.
Space and freedom
Growing a successful economic ecosystem is about treading a fine line. “Yes, local government should take responsibility by empowering local entrepreneurs. But empowerment also means backing off at the right moment,” Brian states.
“Government should always make sure that the entrepreneurial community experiences enough space and freedom to shape their environment.” From his perspective, the Municipality of The Hague is doing a good job. “The municipality here takes a very proactive attitude. They’re always willing to listen and think along,” he extrapolates.
Market knows best
“The market knows best what the market needs. A real paradigm shift has been taking place within the municipality. It is now widely felt that the local economic ecosystem should be allowed to determine its own direction. This is a great thing.”
He’s particularly affirmative when it comes to the way in which the city goes about attracting international companies to relocate to the city. “I’m often directly consulted about companies that have been scouted. They will sincerely want to tap into my thoughts about whether a given company will add value to the local ecosystem.”
Into the future
It’s a given that many startups have a hard time moving past the startup phase. “We have a substantial lack of know-how when it comes to scaling, in The Hague, but nation-wide as well,” he says. “It would be great if the municipality would put its focus there.”
“It should make an effort to bring in this type of knowledge and expertise from abroad, from Silicon Valley, Texas, the United Kingdom. This would allow The Hague to truly distinguish itself and put itself on the map indefinitely.”