Meet Startup @TW

How a Startup Can Get Help Expanding into the Netherlands

Taiwanese tech firms should enter the Netherlands first to find business in Europe, startup authorities from the western European country told a forum in Taipei.

The leaders shared that view and others June 7 during Computex Taipei at an event called “Dutch Startup Ecosystem Seminar.”

The Netherlands has a language edge over European neighbors, said Nils Beers, director of the Dutch nonprofit initiative Startup Delta. That’s ideal for doing business in Europe, he said. Dutch people normally speak English. They might also know German, French and their own national language.

“What’s great about Holland is that we speak multiple languages in our country,” Beers said.

A company that breaks into Europe via France might have to re-launch if pursuing markets in other parts of Europe, since not everybody speaks French, he said. A start in the Netherlands offers a foreign a “gateway” to other European markets, he added.

The wealth of language fluency suggests that the Dutch may understand different countries’ ways of doing business and have stronger networks.

Diederik van der Toorn, economic advisor at the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taipei, told Business Next/Meet at the event that his country was looking for ways to pair with Taiwan in fostering economic growth.

To that end, on June 6 Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-Je signed a memorandum of understanding with the his counterpart John Jorritsma of Eindhoven, a tech industry hub city in the Netherlands. They agreed to work together on connected devices to help run their cities, Ko said.

“It’s an exciting time for us because we are witnessing a remarkable expansion of Taiwan’s cooperation with the Netherlands,” van der Toorn said.

Rutger de Graaf, director of the National Entry Point Dutch Enterprise Agency, a government-supported that helps international startups, told the event the Netherlands wants to help Taiwanese companies establish branches and offices in the Netherlands by providing affordable office space as well as any help needed to apply for visas.

In doing business, Dutch people often “like to get to the point, and we like to see it being executed,” Beers said. “Like Taiwan, we’re a small country, but that doesn’t stop us from realizing our visions.”

Andy Lurling, a Dutch serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the accelerator Lumo Labs, said governments in both places have offered support to entrepreneurs. “We’re fortunate to have various forms of support from the governments,” said the entrepreneur who plans to establish a Taipei office next year.

Lumo Labs is a Eindhoven-headquartered startup accelerator founded in 2016 with an office in Los Angeles. It normally helps startups with international reach and hopes to invest in five to 10 Taiwanese startups over the next couple of years. Lumo Labs takes a 30% investment in the equity of every startup it helps.

“For Taiwanese startup companies, we’re looking for startups who want build a global business from the start,” Lurling said.

The June 7 event was held by the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office, a government agency, along with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, domestic government-funded program Taiwan Startup Institute and Taiwan Startup Stadium, a public organization that coaches young company founders.

At Computex, the Netherlands ran a country pavilion showcasing 17 Dutch startups.