A few months ago VenturesOne (VO) opened their new office in the impact startup location of The Hague, Apollo 14. As a result, they have become a main player in the impact ecosystem of The Hague. We spoke with CEO Edward de Jager to find out more about VenturesOne and how they are making a global impact.
Can you explain in short what VenturesOne does?
At VenturesOne, we fuel entrepreneurs, from early-stage venture capital to private equity. We have a diverse portfolio of ventures and an appetite for long-term value creation. Going beyond helping companies with funding, we supply them with knowledge, industry expertise and our networks in the European and Asian markets. Our investments are in finance, insurance, education, new media, urban logistics, cryptocurrencies, machine learning, software, sustainable Cosmetics and the robotics market.
What motivates VO to support entrepreneurs?
Quite simply, we love to build great companies with driven entrepreneurs! We have done it ourselves numerous times and want to actively help others achieve their goals and dreams. To us, the people of a business are its most important assets: you can have a very well-refined product and a comprehensive business case, but it will all fall flat without an effective team. This is why I’d even prefer a solid team with an imperfect product and strategy than the other way around.
Why should an impact-driven entrepreneur partner with VenturesOne instead of any other investor?
I believe that over the last few years it has become more and more important that we create a future that is more sustainable. The creation of impact should not only be driven by governments and their subsidies, it should come from genuine innovators. Startups hold the key to impact acceleration and the corporate world should find ways to be involved in making this happen. This mindset is what sets us apart from other investors. VenturesOne has been working on this for a number of years now and I also push this through We Share. This is a community funding platform that I’ve founded, providing patient capital to promising impact startups. We Share is launching in early 2020, so keep an eye out for that. World Startup Factory is also part of the VenturesOne Family. We invested in them in 2016. They’re doing some incredible work to help impact-driven entrepreneurs! Our partnerships with Get In The Ring, Unknown Group and Yes!Delft are also noteworthy, giving our investments exposure to our wide network.
To summarize: impact startups should partner with VenturesOne because we are entrepreneurs at heart and use our network and partnerships to help fulfill their impact potential.
With over 30 years of experience, VenturesOne has been around since the beginnings of The Hague’s startup ecosystem. What are some changes and trends that you have seen over the years?
The Hague has always been an international city, but when I started out here it was primarily a governmental hub. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen an influx of entrepreneurs, which has been important in the city’s modernization. Initially The Hagues’ slogan was the “City of Peace and Justice”. But over the last few years, I believe we have that slogan extended to add ‘’Impact’’ as well. As the political centre of the Netherlands, I think it’s important that The Hague has made itself an impact hub. I’m also happy to have seen the extension to (cyber)security, with the incredible growth of this industry over the last few years. For example, Yes!Delft has opened an office in The Hague, working on artificial intelligence. Right next door to them, The Hague Security Delta has a campus where they are doing great work in cybersecurity. These are only a few organizations pioneering cybersecurity entrepreneurship, funding and research. This combination of impact and cybersecurity is a nice fit for The Hague in my opinion, showing the world how we are evolving with it!
VenturesOne’s partnership with the European Investment Bank is one of their few such partnerships with Dutch investment companies. Can you tell us a little about this fund and what its key areas of focus are?
The joint venture with EIF (part of the European Investment Bank) basically follows VenturesOne’s investment strategy. So far, our strategy has been to concentrate our investments on new innovations and technologies. You can see that from some of our most recent investments over the last few years like Geospatial Insight (Business to Business Satellite Imagery), Skelex (Industrial Upper Body Exoskeletons) and PAZTIR (light electric vehicles for urban delivery). Apart from being innovative companies, each of these investments has a positive impact on people and the environment.
VenturesOne recently announced a large joint investment into the sustainable cosmetics The Hague based company and former winner of The Hague Innovators Challenge, Naïf. Can you tell us about why their impact and sustainability-based mission resonated with VenturesOne?
The reason VenturesOne invested in Naif is that they create products that are rooted in sustainability and health. Instead of chemicals and additives, Naïf is committed to using all-natural and vegan ingredients to make, what we believe, the best cosmetic products on the market for sustainable skincare. We like to invest in products that we believe in and would use ourselves – Naif is one such example of this.
What are VO’s plans for the (near) future? What kind of entrepreneurs are you looking for and where do you find them?
We will continue to invest in companies with excellent management teams – that’s going to be #1 in importance for us. We’re always on the lookout for business cases that stand out, with a focus on innovation, technology and impact. We are invested in being an active part of the impact community in The Hague, one of our key reasons for opening up an office in Apollo 14 with We Share, Get in The Ring and Unknown Group. Our head office near Laan Van NOI is surrounded by Yes!Delft, The Hague Tech and The Hague Security Delta, where we meet some interesting companies and the bright entrepreneurs behind them. It’s been an eventful 2019 for VenturesOne, but 2020 looks to be even more so!