Every so often it becomes clear again that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to founding or running a business. Despite Amsterdam being known for its tolerance and inclusiveness, the startup ecosystem is primarily dominated by men. The City of Amsterdam is now actively investing in promoting women in the world of startups and scaleups. These are examples to follow.
Amsterdam supports RISE – Female Hub
With the announcement of its financial support for the RISE – Female hub Amsterdam, the City of Amsterdam aims for a more level playing field for men and women in the startup ecosystem. With the city’s investment of €750k in the programme, RISE is able to unite twenty Amsterdam organisations to create a three-year program for ambitious women at different stages of their career.
Before the programme starts, it’s only logical to look at the people leading the way. Role models that inspire all of us to do better work harder, look beyond our own network. The women that are working hard to build the ecosystem of startups and scaleups and make it more diverse and equal for all. You should really know about:
Corinne Vigreux – TomTom, Codam, TechMeUp
Corinne Vigreux (pictured above) has been navigating the intricacies of the tech sector for a long time now. With the founding and following mega-success of navigation technologies company TomTom, she launched herself to be one of the most influential people in the European technology business.
During her career as a tech leader, Vigreux has been actively striving for equal opportunities for all. A prime example of that is Codam, the Amsterdam based tech academy that prepares its students for a career in tech without charging them anything. Codam is aiming to get more diversity in the field by recruiting at least 50 per cent women. Her latest endeavour is TechMeUp, offering scholarships for people who, otherwise, can’t afford it.
Read more about: tech academies in Amsterdam
Alexandra Belicova – StartupAmsterdam
Talking about ecosystem builders; that is literally her job. Alexandra Belicovia is part of StartupAmsterdam as Partnerships & Events Lead. In this role, she is the unofficial ambassador for the Dutch startup ecosystem and self-described super-connector.
Besides setting up events and partnerships to benefit the Amsterdam’s startup and scaleup community, she’s also a familiar face at many high-profile events in and around Amsterdam. Belicova has appeared at the TNW Conference and World Summit AI. She was also involved with the recent Hack the Crisis, an online collaboration of some of the biggest and most innovative tech players in the Netherlands to combat the pandemic.
Sophie op den Kamp – TNW Spaces
The Next Web will probably ring a bell or two. Whether it’s its news site or its wildly popular yearly conference, TNW has undoubtedly made a name for itself. With the launch of its own hub in the city, the company was able to physically build the startup ecosystem in Amsterdam. In Sophie op den Kamp, they found the perfect person to take charge of TNW Spaces.
Op den Kamp is Managing Director at TNW Spaces, formerly known as TQ. The curated office where successful startups like Stripe, Homerun and Dott conduct their business from, and where partners like Google, KPMG and ABN Amro connect with innovators. Op den Kamp recently announced the opening of a new location. With TNW West, that’s the third location in the city, as she keeps building on the ecosystem.
Eve Logunova – Women in AI
With a resume that lists over 15 years of experience in some of the largest technology companies (think IBM or Alcatel-Lucent), Eve Logunova is as tech-minded as they come. According to her LinkedIn profile, Logunova is a ‘big fan of adding a human voice to complex business ideas’. She also uses her voice to strife for more diversity and inclusiveness in the ecosystem.
For the past years, she’s been working with Women in AI to achieve precisely that. The nonprofit global do-tank organises various educational and awareness-focused events to bridge the gender gap and mitigate bias in the AI domain. No wonder Logunova is an essential voice in the shaping of the ecosystem’s diversity strategies.
Daria Nepriakhina- IdeaHackers
Nepriakhina takes her background in product design and her experience with lean startups and uses that to help ecosystems grow. As a founder of IdeaHackers, she is the foundation behind accelerators and competitions such as Startup in Residence and The Squeeze. With CollabCanvas, she aims for more structured collaboration between corporates, governments, NGOs, and startups.
It’s probably what makes Nepriakhina a sought-after mentor for startups as well. Having mentored startups at programs like Google Launchpad and Rockstart, her influence is being felt all over the city’s startup ecosystem.
Emilie Verbunt – DutchBaseCamp
Boosting tech ecosystems is one of the jobs DutchBaseCamp has tasked itself to do. And running it all is Emilie Verbunt, Director of the programme. DutchBaseCamp helps startups and scaleups to scale internationally. It does so by offering masterclasses, coaching and trade missions.
DutchBaseCamp has a 12-week programme ready for companies that want to score across the borders. Once these startups have landed, they can use the extensive network of DutchBaseCamp to do business. DutchBaseCamp, under the leadership of Verbunt, has currently helped 600 startups and claims to have a network across 30 cities worldwide.
Shahar Graf & Simone Schoutens – Amsterdam Capital House
A couple of years back, for one week, Amsterdam would turn into the city of capital. Amsterdam Capital Week was a multi-day event in which founders, investors and stakeholders could connect, pitch and make deals. This often included a twist, having founders cycle through the city looking for investors or making angels pitch in a driving limo.
Amsterdam Capital Week now continues as Amsterdam Capital House, with Simone Schoutens and Shahar Graf at the helm. It still includes the same wackiness, combined with meaningful matchmaking. We’re not just talking about cold hard money here. By also including human and social capital, Schoutens and Graf make sure to look at all aspects that make an ecosystem worthwhile.
Ellen Spithoven – Ready 2 Scale
As a freelance startup and scaleup coach, Ellen Spithoven knows about the art of scaling. For the Amsterdam Center of Entrepreneurship (ACE), she is responsible for the Ready 2 Scale programme, designed to boost the growth of innovative companies.
With the programme, Spithoven gives innovative startups from the Netherlands access to Silicon Valley. Want to meet and do business with executives and professors from Google, Cisco, eBay, PayPal or UC Berkeley? Spithoven’s Ready 2 Scale programme can get you there.
Eva Bandelj – StartupBootCamp/Techleap
It’s hard to think about startups in Amsterdam without mentioning the name of Eva Bandelj. She’s been more or less involved in every significant event, ranging from TNW Conference, Slush, Web Summit or Amsterdam Capital Week, and has mentored over 120 startups. As the Head of Innovation Ecosystem at StartupBootCamp, she offers startups a gateway to an international network.
As if she’s not busy enough, Bandelj also finds time to advance the position of women and girls in the world of entrepreneurship. Whether it’s for her own ‘Freebies for chicas’ initiative, or as an advisor for Impulse 4 Women. Next January, Bandelj will officially be part of Techleap.
Linda Vermaat – Innofest
Looking to test the prototype of your product on a tiny scale? Using it in the micro-cosmos of a festival might be a good start. That’s where Innofest comes in. The initiative, founded by Linda Vermaat, connects early-stage impact startups with the festival so that startups can get some hands-on their product, before rolling it out to a broader audience.
As a film and documentary maker, Vermaat likes to point her camera on innovative people. Her experience as an innovation scout for among others Impact Hub Amsterdam sure comes in handy. No wonder Vermaat has regularly been featured on lists of most inspiring women.
Emilie Sobels – Self-made summit
Everything Emilie Sobels does is with the aim of advancing the position of women in the startup ecosystem. She’s the founder of Hasthag Workmode, as series of coworking spaces all over The Netherlands that offer workspace as well as opportunities to learn and grow. The twist: they are female-focussed.
Same goes for the Self-made summit, which markets itself as a business event for women. The goal is to let female entrepreneurs learn and get inspiration from female role models in the business world. The first edition brought over 500 ambitious women together to take the ecosystem by storm.
Jovana Karanovic – Reshaping Work
For the past couple of years, the platform economy has thoroughly disrupted the way we do business. To see what the future of work holds, we turn to Jovana Karanovic. She’s currently doing PhD research on that very subject. More importantly, she’s actively shaping that future by founding Reshaping Work.
The non-profit brings together experts on the platform economy and digital innovations in Amsterdam, to discuss the future and learn from each other. She brings all stakeholders together, from academics to policymakers and business leaders from Uber, Deliveroo, Google and Deloitte. Karanovic is eager to share her deep knowledge as a frequent speaker or expert in several panels at high profile events.