What is a startup?
A startup is not just any starting business. To give a short definition: a startup is a business that translates an innovative idea into a scaleable and generic product or service, using new technology. Scaleable and generic means that the product or service is developed and produced once, and can be sold over and over again. Not customising your product or service for each new client makes your product or service cheaper and easier.
Can anyone set up a startup in the Netherlands?
In theory, anyone can set up a startup business in the Netherlands. But you do have to meet several requirements. If you come from outside the EU, you probably need a visa. There are special routes for startups. For example, you can apply for a Dutch residence permit for foreign startups. That involves finding a facilitator. Read more about how this works and the requirements on the IND website.
Do I have to be on my own?
You can found the startup on your own, or you can involve one or more co-founders. Depending on how you choose to go forward, you will have to choose a legal form of business.
Starting any business is a daunting prospect. It is smart to ask advice from more experienced partners. There are several local and regional organisations that offer mentoring and coaching. Another option is finding an existing company to co-found your startup. For instance, if you want to develop a product but lack the equipment to do so, you can try to team up with a company that does have the equipment.
The Netherlands Point of Entry has been set up specifically for international startups and scale-ups to help them find their feet in the Netherlands.
Is your startup a tech company? Then you can explore the Dutch tech ecosystem with guidance from TechLeap.nl. They offer programs and links to startup funding and mentoring, and a Finder to help you find what you are looking for. Please note: the Finder does not work in all browsers. They also offer a ScienceFinder (beta) that can help you find publications and scientific expertise on topics that interest you.
Startup funding is an important issue for starting and growing businesses. For startups, there are several government funding options that you could try to apply for. Check out the Startup Box to find out which option suits you best.
You can also try to interest banks in giving you a loan, or convince investors to invest in your product or service in exchange for a share in your business — this is called equity. Business angels may be willing to fund your ideas; you could set up a crowdfunding project; or apply for funding from a regional development company or venture capital fund.
There are also networking and financing events that you can attend.
Do not ask for too little money — think big and think ahead. Where do you want your company to be in 5 years' time, and what will it take to get there? Also, do not be afraid to say 'no' to an investor, if you feel you do not match and have to comprimise too much — it might cause problems later if you ignore this.
For more tips and tricks to finding investors, read the short blog by KVK Entrepreneurial Financing Expert Martijn Lentz.
Chat with Tax Administration
Every day between 09:00 and 16:00 it is possible for starters and SMEs to chat with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (website in Dutch). You can also make an appointment for a video call with one of their advisers to ask them your tax questions (website in Dutch).
Follow the rules
Anyone starting a business in the Netherlands has to play by the rules — that is, the rules and regulations the government has developed for entrepreneurs. Check our General checklist for starting a business in the Netherlands.
A few more tips:
- Before you invest in costly prototypes for your product, make sure you have tested your idea. That way, you will have a more sound basis for financing as well.
- However great the temptation may be to start diversifying straight away, do not give in to it until you have built a solid base for your company from your core product or service.
- Identify all potential markets for your product or service, and choose the one that is easiest to start approaching. That way, you will build your company to be ready for other markets as well.
On our website, you can read the stories of other foreign startups:
- Business story Waste Management IT Scrap Connection
- Business story Advertising Marketing Communications and IT SPIN Ideas
- Business story Digital Services IT Eastsource
TechLeap.nl also offers several inspirational stories for you to read.
Watch our webinars to find more information about starting and running a business in the Netherlands: