Among the top tech ecosystems in Europe, the city of Amsterdam sits comfortably at the third spot. This reflects an increased interest in the city from non-local companies, which is good for the economy. However, as the ecosystem gets crowded, local establishments are sometimes pushed to the backseat due to fierce competition. Local businesses are the backbone of any economy, and therefore need to be supported. This is exactly what the startup Local Heroes strives to achieve; it has now raised an investment of over €1M.
The startup offers an e-commerce platform for local entrepreneurs and businesses. This helps create an online presence for local establishments, in order to help them compete with big online companies.
Family funds to invest over €1M in Local Heroes
Local Heroes is receiving an investment of €1M from three family funds. The company is yet to disclose which family funds are investing in the startup but it says that these three funds are willing to reinvest in the company later on. With this investment, Local Heroes will focus more on IT and the sustainability of its operations. A new development team, which has previously worked at Booking.com, will also join the company.
In an exclusive conversation with SC, Maarten Coumans, initiator of Local Heroes, shares the company’s expansion plans. “First we want to build a city-wide network of pickup points in the public space in collaboration with the city of Amsterdam. If we can prove that it works here it will work anywhere,” notes Coumans. “We are getting requests from cities throughout the Netherlands but also received requests from the UK, Sweden, Belgium, and Italy. Apparently, our app looks so obvious that people in other markets understand it immediately.”
Connecting local with global
Many local businesses and entrepreneurs aren’t available on the internet. Local Heroes helps create their online presence through its e-commerce platform. One can then support local businesses by ordering from them online and getting deliveries at home. Local Heroes was initially launched in Amsterdam-West, back in March this year, and enabled users to order from local businesses in the Ten Katemarkt and the Oud-West district.
Talking about how he came up with the idea behind Local Heroes, Coumans says, “After working for 8 years at Albert Heijn and another 8 as an entrepreneur, I sold my businesses in 2018. Soon after, I came across a LinkedIn post announcing that the city was organising a kickoff for the new ‘market vision’. I attended the event and couldn’t sleep that night. The old fashioned street market could serve as the perfect fulfillment center in the midst of a densely populated area. That is where the idea of Market 2.0 was conceived and while, at first, it revolved around the street market, later, it integrated all shops in a neighborhood and we called it Local Heroes.”’
The company is also gaining momentum. As per Local Heroes, many customers are using the startup’s app to order groceries from local businesses. This is expected to help local establishments thrive again and gain the market share that’s been lost over the years. The businesses can also compete locally to become stronger together.
Winner of Start-up in residence Amsterdam
Local Heroes also won the “Startup in Residence Program Amsterdam”. The six-month programme offers startups a unique opportunity to run pilots in the city of Amsterdam, with access to the municipality’s network and the opportunity to attend events organised in the city.
“Startup in residence is essentially an official European Tender program. Public institutions need to follow strict procurement regulations, which do not make it easy for startups and smaller companies to apply,” says Coumans.
He further adds, “At its core, the program enables small companies and startups to work with the city without having to go through a regular tender. The coaching and support are also very extensive and the goal of the program is really to help you understand how public institutions work and also bring you company to the next level.”
Image credits: Local Heroes