The coronavirus pandemic impacted various aspects of the economy, and as a result, some sectors observed increased demands while others were negatively impacted. Multiple businesses faced losses, while the startups were afraid of fundings drying up. However, with lockdown relaxing in Amsterdam and most parts of the Netherlands, the country’s startup and scaleup scene seems to have gotten better.
According to a recent Dealroom/StartupAmsterdam report, the combined value of Amsterdam’s tech ecosystem has expanded to €73B, compared to €10B in 2015. This makes Amsterdam the third-ranked tech ecosystem in Europe, by the total value of tech companies founded since 2000. Another report ranks Amsterdam as the third best startup ecosystem in Europe, after London and Stockholm. Globally, the city stands in the 12th position.
The good news is, the stakeholders of the ecosystem are constantly striving to strengthen it and drive inclusiveness and collaboration. “We are always looking for companies that offer painkillers, not vitamins. Startups that offer a solution for a problem and solve people’s pain. Those companies are less affected than the nice-to-haves,” says Johan van Mil, partner at Amsterdam-based VC Peak Capital.
The city’s thriving startup ecosystem is a living, breathing entity that’s growing and maturing rapidly. It’s buzzing with an entrepreneurial spirit, innovative drive, and ambition of its stakeholders – the ecosystem’s lifeforce. The true entrepreneurial spirit that even a pandemic could not extinguish.
Below mentioned are some of the Amsterdam-based startups that hit the headlines in 2020
From bootstrapped to unicorn: MessageBird raises €169.8M at €2.5B valuation
The cloud communication platform MessageBird offers a suite of options that helps businesses stay on top of customer service. The company raised €169.8M and valued at €2.5B. The latest Series C funding round for the company happened remotely due to the effects of the pandemic.
The round was led by Silicon Valley’s Spark Capital, with participation from Bonnier, Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners and New View Capital. Existing investors Accel, Atomico, and Y-Combinator also participated in this round.
Founded in 2011, MessageBird offers what it calls an ‘Omnichannel’ solution that is said to unify and track interactions across ‘every’ messaging channel. Instead of keeping tabs on different channels such as SMS, email, voice, messaging apps and more, an enterprise can simply use MessageBird’s service for consolidated information at one place.
Recently, Messagebird has acquired Pusher, a London-based software firm, in a deal worth $35M (approx €29M). It marks the next milestone for the Dutch unicorn, on its path to an IPO.
Digital gaming and adtech company Azerion raises €12.5M; announces IPO plans
Azerion, a digital gaming and adtech company, based out of Schiphol-Rijk, the Netherlands, raised €12.5M to accelerate the growth of its digital platform with a wider variety of quality games, entertainment, and monetisation features, both organically and through acquisitions.
Azerion says the acquisitions are initially focused on quality casual games and digital entertainment concepts, as well as digital advertising solutions.
Founded in 2014 by two Dutch entrepreneurs – Umut Akpinar and Atilla Aytekin – Azerion claims to have built an ecosystem that combines content, technology, and data for publishers, advertisers, and consumers.
Payaut raises €2.65M in seed funding
Fintech startup Payaut raised over $3M (€2.65M) in its seed round of funding. The round was led by its earlier lead investor UK-based LocalGlobe, and previous investor Finch Capital also participated again.
Founded in 2019 by Ernst van Niekerk and Gillis Haasnoot, Payaut offers an automated payment solution for online marketplaces. It ensures that money flowing through these marketplaces ends up with the right sellers or companies with SplitPayments. The company claims to offer an all-in-one payment solution for online marketplaces that takes care of everything regarding payments towards the platform and the vendors it hosts.
Catawiki scoops up €150M
Catawiki, an online auction platform for buying and selling special items and collectables, raised €150M in a fresh round of funding led by Permira through its Growth Opportunities Fund. Existing investor Accel also participated in this round. The current round of funding will help Catawiki to grow its user base by investing in technology, marketing, and hiring more experts across Europe.
Catawiki was founded by Rene Schoenmakers (a Dutch comic collector), and Marco Jansen (a Dutch developer). It went online on 10th September 2008 as a wiki-based compendium of collector’s catalogues. The company claims to be the most-visited curated marketplace in Europe in categories such as collectables, art, design, jewellery, watches, classic cars, among others.
Cybersecurity scaleup EclecticIQ raised €20M
EclecticIQ raised €20M in its Series C round of funding led by Ace Management, a cyber growth investor. The round also saw participation from Capricorn Digital Growth Fund and Quest for Growth, Invest-NL, Arches Capital. Besides, existing investors, including INKEF Capital, KEEN Venture Partners, and KPN Ventures, also participated in the round.
Founded in 2014 by Joep Gommers and Raymon van der Velde, EclecticIQ is a global threat intelligence, hunting, and response technology provider. Its clients are some of the most targeted organisations, globally, claims the company.
Fast-charging startup Fastned raises €17M
With a goal to open 1000 fast-charging stations for electric vehicles to charge with renewable energy from the sun and wind, fast-charging network for electric vehicles company, Fastned, has raised €17M in a fresh round of funding with the issue of bonds.
Founded in 2012 by Michiel Langezaal and Bart Lubbers, Fastned is a Dutch company with an aim to accelerate the transition to electric mobility by giving freedom to electric drivers.
Investor henQ opens new fund: €100M
Venture capital fund HENQ from Amsterdam received €100M to invest in business software companies in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. 80% of the money went to SaaS companies while the 20% was already invested in companies including Zivver, Order Champ, Cloud and Townsend Mews.
Prior to that, henQ hit a new milestone with its fourth fund, henQ 4, with the first close of €70M. henQ takes pride in being a fully remote VC. There are no offices and the team works from different locations and it is also closing deals remotely.
Ever since starting their first fund in 2005, henQ has been focused on investing from pre-seed up to Series A in B2B software companies. One of the first investments the company made with its first fund was in Mendix, which was eventually acquired by Lightspeed for over $700M (approx €573M).
In henQ 2, they invested in SEOshop and saw early success as it was acquired by Lightspeed. Fast forward to henQ 3, the firm invested in 19 companies that showcased a 70% graduation rate, which means they raised a follow-on round with external investors after a seed round from henQ. Some of the notable companies from henQ 3 include ZIVVER, SendCloud, Mews Systems, Impraise, Aidence, among others.
CodeSandbox to make coding more collaborative & less complex; raises €10.83M
The Amsterdam-based company raised $12.7M (nearly €10.83M) in its Series A round of funding led by EQT Ventures. The round saw participation from existing investors including Kleiner Perkins, Arches Capital, and Vercel founder Guillermo Rauch accompanied by new angels Andreas Blixt and Daniel Gebler.
CodeSandbox is an online code editor that allows users to create a new web application in a single click. The platform handles the setting up of the development environment, the tooling, and the provisioning for the users. This way, they can focus on creating the application instead of all the tooling.
Zivver raised €14.4M
Zivver, a platform that offers solutions to securely exchange email, chat, or transfer files to prevent data leaks of sensitive information, raised $17M (approx €14.4M) in a fresh round of funding led by international tech investor DN Capital, with participation from new investor SmartFin.
Founded in 2015 by Rick Goud, Zivver provides a secure document sharing and email communication solution for enterprises. It offers a secure mobile communication platform for encrypted emails and sharing large documents. The company uses two-factor authentication (2FA) so that only the recipient can open the message.
The raised capital was used to accelerate Zivver’s international expansion into the UK and other markets. In addition, it also helped in the expansion of Zivver’s platform from email data protection and secure file transfer to adjacent use cases like digital signatures, secure forms, and secure video.
Adyen alumni raise €2.6M funding for Silverflow, a cloud-native card payments platform
Silverflow raised a seed fund of €2.6M to roll out its first cloud-native card payments platform. In an exclusive conversation with SC, Silverflow’s co-founders, Anne Willem de Vries and Robert Kraal shared more about the company, the initial challenges it faced and more.
The Silverflow platform has been in development for about two years now, and is slated to launch in early 2021. The platform is said to be the first cloud-native card payments platform that directly connects with card networks.
This accelerator is all set to boost energy startups in Europe with a new €21M fund
To help startups dealing with energy production, accelerator – Rockstart, raised €21M in fresh funding. Rockstart is using the funds to create an Energy Fund to be utilised investing in energy startups based out of the Netherlands and Europe. This new fund will be used to help early-stage startups until they scale-up.
The new Energy Fund launched with the Dutch pension fund ABP, and family office De Hoge Dennen Capital as cornerstone investors, along with some prominent private-wealth and industry investors. It is also supported by the seed capital scheme from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
Previously, Rockstart’s first AgriFood Demo Day, which was hosted in Copenhagen on the 30th January 2020, the company had closed an investment in their AgriFood fund taking the total capital under management to over €18M.
E-bike firm VanMoof raised funds as its sales accelerate
VanMoof secured €33.7M in Series B funding from Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital and Balderton Capital. The company said it will utilise the funds to fuel further global expansion and bolster its manufacturing process.
The raised capital was to help VanMoof to meet the increased demand for its e-bikes and shortening delivery time. The company will drive its expansion plans further into key growth markets such as the US and Germany, where new brand stores and pop-up shops will be opened.
The company has recently raised €12.5M from one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms Balderton Capital and assembly partner SINBON Electronics. These funds will support the company’s international expansion plans as it aims to scale up for keeping up with the increased e-bike demands.
CB Insights acquires Dutch blockchain intelligence startup Blockdata
Software company Blockdata that deals with blockchain-centric market intelligence has been acquired by CB Insights.
With social distancing and working from home being the new normal, this acquisition happened virtually. CB Insights notes that pulling off the deal completely online wasn’t too difficult as they managed to do so in less than three months. As per the company, the deal moved quickly since blockchain tech has become popular with CB Insights’ customers.
Factris helps SMEs with invoice financing; secures €50M
Fintech startup Factris, that provides an online invoice factoring platform for European SMEs, raised €50M. The round for Factris was based upon a secured financing agreement with asset manager NN Investment Partners (NN IP). The company used the funds to provide easier financing to European SMEs. It did it by purchasing their trade-related invoices, which enables SMEs to better manage their liquidity position.
Founded in 2017 by Brice Laurent and Marcel Meijer, Factris specialises in the fields of SME financing, factoring, debt management, debtor insurance, and invoice finance. The company also specialises in working capital to businesses by buying their unpaid invoices.
The startup had earlier raised €5M in funding from AB ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of the Arab Bank. Existing investors including Speedinvest, Optima Investments, and other high net worth investors also participated in the Series-A equity funding round.
Prior to that, Factris received €1.4M in funding from the EU for the development of an automated risk-management system. Notably, this risk-management system will use Artificial Intelligence and will be aimed at solving a major problem affecting small businesses across Europe.
Mollie raises €90M in TCV-led funding
Payment services provider Mollie became the newest member of the fintech unicorn club, raised €90M in its series B funding round. The company raised a total of €115M, to date. Mollie will utilise these funds for accelerating its international expansion plans.
Founded in 2004 by Adriaan Mol, Mollie is a payments platform that offers an easy-to-implement process for integrating payments into a site or app. It is a technology-based company processing payments for more than 50,000 clients with local payment methods such as Mastercard, VISA, Amex, PayPal, iDEAL, Bancontact, Bitcoin, SEPA Direct Debit, Cartes Bancaires, ESP, Giropay, SOFORT Banking, and more.
Mollie aims to make online payment simple for merchants by taking away the complexity from payment methods and offering a simple, but powerful API.
AI-startup raises €10.13M to support COVID-19 research
Castor, that’s using AI to offer a cloud-based clinical data platform that simplifies the clinical trial process, raised €10.13M in its Series A round of funding. The round was led by Two Sigma Ventures while Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures and existing investor INKEF Capital participated as well.
The new funding will help the startup to strengthen its support for patient-centric, remote trials. It will also enable the company’s customers to maximise value from existing and newly generated data throughout the clinical trial process.
Founded back in 2012 by Derk Arts, Castor offers an Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system for medical researchers to help them easily capture and integrate high-quality data from any source on one compliant platform. It helps set up data capture forms, collaborate with colleagues, invite patients through questionnaires, import, export and analyse their data in a secure, compliant cloud environment, all without elaborate training or technical skills.
Kinder raised €500K amid pandemic, looking to raise €3M
Amsterdam-based Kinder is a tech-for-good startup that thoroughly vets the performance of charitable organisations and allows donors to act instantly when confronted with the world’s problems. In this case, ‘vet’ means examining or checking. In other words, gathering information on an organisation to determine its soundness.
In August, this year, we reported that Kinder raised almost €500K in funding. The very next month, the startup raised an additional €525K in a funding round led by a group of angel investors. In fact, Mathys van Abbe, founder of Kinder, also joined the round. With this funding, Kinder has, so far, raised €2.1M to date
The company intended to use the funding to expand its global network as well as accelerate product development for innovative fundraising features including Kinder Appeals and Kinder Fundraiser platforms. These platforms would allow users to donate towards effectively solving society’s most urgent problems and organise fundraisers to maximise their support.
WordProof wins €1M in a competition by European Commission
WordProof finished first in the ‘Blockchains for social good’ competition hosted by the European Commission. As a result, the company won €1M. With this contest, Europe aims to stimulate the use of blockchain technology to solve social problems.
Founded in 2019 by Sebastiaan van der Lans and Frank van Dalen as an angel investor and partner, the Dutch startup is on a mission to restore trust in the internet. According to the Global CIGI-Ipsos research, the confidence on the Internet is declining due to fraud, fake news, and privacy issues, among other things.
Recently, the company raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Yoast – a leading SEO plugin for WordPress.
Fastned is solving Europe’s EV charging problems, scores €13M
Fast-charging company Fastned, which builds a nationwide network of fast-charging stations in the Netherlands, raised over €13M with the issue of bonds. In addition, investors extended €2.7M worth of bonds from earlier issues. All newly issued bonds will mature in July 2025.
Founded in 2012 by Michiel Langezaal and Bart Lubbers, Fastned aims to accelerate the transition to electric mobility by giving freedom to electric drivers. The company owns and operates a network of EV charging stations in the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK – the majority of its stations are located at Dutch highway rest areas. So far, it has built 129 fast-charging stations in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.
Siilo: The Dutch WhatsApp for healthcare professionals raises €9.5M
Medtech startup Siilo raised €9.5M in Series A round of funding. The company claims to have built Europe’s largest medical network with more than 250,000 healthcare professionals. Through that funds, Siilo intended to continue the expansion of its product offerings to better support case-based collaboration and knowledge-sharing on its platform. Additionally, it plans to expand its network across Europe, specifically across the UK and Ireland as well as, DACH, BENELUX.
Siilo was founded back in 2016 by former surgery resident Joost Bruggeman (CEO) and Arvind Rao (CFO). Realising that the methods of communication in the field are dated, the duo came up with a secure, easy-to-use messaging app designed specifically for healthcare professionals. Siilo’s mission is to create a dedicated platform where healthcare professionals can be connected while adhering to various healthcare compliance regulations.
Studytube raised €10M to become one of the top three online learning platforms in Europe
Online learning platform Studytube raised €10M from Verdane, the Norwegian investment company that helps successful tech companies to grow further.
Studytube provides companies and governments with an all-in-one learning platform. The technology enables organisations to create and distribute bespoke training content, and the accompanying proprietary online academy offers employees guided and inspirational access to a vast catalogue of third party training and educational programs (both offline and online).
Build-in management tools smartly monitor employee development: what are relevant training courses for which employees; are they attending them, and have they obtained compulsory training certificates yet? The Studytube platform shares these insights instantly.
Roamler raised €20M to create a smarter workforce
A rapidly growing pan-European crowdsourcing platform, Roamler, raised €20M in funding. Endeit Capital, SmartFin, and Achmea Innovation Fund participated in Roamler’s latest funding round. The company will utilise the newly raised funds to accelerate its growth across Europe. Furthermore, the company will expand its service internationally, commencing with the UK and Germany, in the field of on-demand professional installations, maintenance, and repair activities.
Roamler was founded in 2011 by the COO and co-founder Martijn Nijhuis. The company operates three brands, which consist of Roamler Retail, Roamler Tech, and Roamler Care. In the retail sector, the company is the European leader in crowd-supported field-marketing activities. Roamler performs tasks for the biggest FMCG manufacturers, consumer brands, PCGs, and retail chains. It is also one of the first companies to apply crowdsourcing to B2B in tech.
Belgian media company Mediahuis invested €5M in edtech scaleup Lepaya
Lepaya, a provider of soft skills training courses raised €5M from media group Mediahuis. The funding will enable the startup to accelerate the implementation of its projected growth plans. At the same time, this investment will allow Lepaya to further develop its range of training courses and the underlying technology.
Lepaya was established at the start of 2018 by René Janssen and Peter Kuperus, who, based on their experiences both in the corporate world and the scale-up scene, saw that there is a need for training courses that sustainably change behaviour. The startup mainly operates in the Netherlands, but services its customer base worldwide, including in the USA, Germany, and Spain.
ING-backed fintech Cobase raised €10M from Nordic and French banks
Fintech startup Cobase, that started out with offering a muti-banking solution for corporates, bagged €10M from ING Ventures. Nordic and French banks, who invested in the round joined the main shareholder ING as its shareholders.
Cobase offers a one stop, end-to-end solution for corporate customers who manage multiple bank accounts at various banks. The company’s offering provides access to all the various bank accounts via a unified single platform, making it extremely easy to manage them. Cobase’s users also have an option to directly integrate their ERP system into the Cobase platform, which eliminates the need for a separate integration with each bank.
Alongside the main accounts integration feature, the company’s platform also includes a central Payment Hub, and various Cash and Treasury Management modules.
Otrium got an early Alibaba investor on board; raised €24
Fashion-tech startup Otrium raised €24M in a Series B funding round. The round was led by global fund Eight Roads, early investor in e-commerce mogul Alibaba.
Otrium is an online fashion-outlet, founded in 2016 by Milan Daniëls and Max Klijnstra. They created a platform where brands have an opportunity to connect with fashionlovers to sell last seasons’ collections. The goal is to extend the life cycle of fashion, by preventing large quantities of perfectly fine, unsold clothing from gathering dust in warehouses. Fashionlovers can sign up for Otrium and bag some bargains, while fashion brands not only have the opportunity to sell their previous collection but also gather insights about their audience.
India’s Ola Electric acquires Etergo, the ‘Dutch Tesla of scooters’
India-based ride-hailing firm Ola’s dedicated EV business – Ola Electric Mobility acquired Etergo, the Dutch company known for making AppScooter, a fully electric scooter.
Founded in 2014, Etergo has developed an all-electric state-of-the-art AppScooter, which has won multiple awards across the world for its innovative design and engineering at CES 2019 and Automotive Brand Contest, Germany amongst others. First revealed in 2018, the AppScooter uses swappable high energy density batteries to deliver a range up to 240km and class-leading acceleration.
With European design, strong engineering collaboration and Indian manufacturing and supply chain, Ola Electric aims to transform the 100-million+ global two-wheeler market, including the 20-million+ Indian two-wheeler market, into a clean energy, digital future.
Pyramid Analytics raised €22.6M to deepen strategic alliances with partners
Next-generation business intelligence platform, Pyramid Analytics, raised $25M (approx €22.6M) growth equity funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Viola Growth, and Maor Investments. The funds were used to expand Pyramid Analytics’ global footprint, deepen strategic alliances with partners, and assume a leadership position in the market.
Founded in 2008 by Avi Perez, Herbert Ochtman, and Omri Kohl, Pyramid Analytics is a global BI&A leader offering an analytics platform that helps companies compete as world-class data-driven organisations. Last year, the company had signed hundreds of new customers and announced strategic relationships with leading partners.
Mobile trading startup BUX acquires social crypto exchange platform Blockport
BUX acquired Blockport, a European social cryptocurrency investment platform. With this acquisition, Blockport was rebranded as BUX Crypto and was fully integrated under the BUX brand. The rebranded platform got tested with a pool of clients and was launched in Q1 of 2020.
This acquisition helped expand BUX’s service offerings and drove the company’s mission to become the single destination for young investors in Europe.
The founders and core team members of Blockport joined BUX and took ownership of the cryptocurrency offering. BUX Crypto was available to users across all 9 European countries where BUX was active. Users were able to access a variety of financial assets and markets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP.
Hotel software startup Oaky raised €8.7M
Oaky is an automated upselling platform that helps hoteliers drive revenue by offering guests what they want. This Dutch startup announced that it closed a $9.5M (approx €8.7M) in its Series A round of funding.
The funding round was led by PeakSpan Capital, a growth-stage investment firm focused on the B2B software arena with offices in New York and Silicon Valley. With this fund, Oaky will invest in product development, continued geographic expansion, and team growth across all functional groups.
Oaky’s mission, since its founding, has been to help hoteliers capture incremental revenue and enable a superior guest experience by offering travelers relevant services in a personalized manner based on their specific preferences and needs.
Data and research platform Dealroom rakes in €2.75M
Founded in 2013, Dealroom is a data and software platform, providing worldwide intelligence about startups, innovation, and venture capital investment to governments, VCs, and individuals. This company raised €2.75M in a Series A round co-led by Shoe Investments and Knight Venture Capital.
Dealroom used the funding to expand in Europe and beyond, including making key hires in these markets.
This platform delivers insights to publish influential reports based on research and data about startups, investment, funding, M&A deals, and socio-economic impact. Furthermore, the company works with a combination of technology, data science, government, and manual data sources to build its expertise across different languages, local hubs, and ecosystems, and the fast-developing venture capital landscape.
Sustainable smartphone launched; uses 40% recycled plastics and upgraded camera modules
Fairphone makes mobile phones that are designed to last as long as possible. The company new Fairphone 3+, which is an upgraded version of the Fairphone 3, uses 40% recycled plastics, equivalent to one 33cl plastic bottle.
The Fairphone 3+ and the new camera modules are now available in the Netherlands/Benelux on Fairphone’s website and via partners for a suggested retail price of €469.
The rest of the phone specifications are the same as the Fairphone 3. The new handset still runs on the Qualcomm 632 processor, which is paired with 64GB memory and 4GB RAM. It is equipped with a 5.65 inch Full-HD display that is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and the handset is backed by a 3000mAh removable battery that supports Qualcomm QuickCharge.
Edtech startup Squla to dominate personalised education space
During the coronavirus pandemic, parents, teachers, and students are all struggling to cope with homeschooling, as the industry is not equipped with the necessary digital infrastructure and the curriculum was not digital-ready. This is where edtech startups such as Squla can come into play; its parent company Futurewhiz acquired its German counterpart Scoyo.
Squla is an online learning platform that offers interactive educational tools for primary school pupils in the Netherlands and Poland. It is a subsidiary of online education company Futurewhiz, which is also the parent company of WRTS.
With the acquisition of Scoyo, Squla claims it will have access to 7 million primary and secondary school students in Germany. According to the company, Scoyo will continue to operate under its existing name and will add local educational content to the Squla platform for mobile devices and the web, for use at home and school.
Founded in 2010 by André Haardt, Squla offers an app and a web environment along with an overview of learning efficiency for parents and teachers, with the latter having access to a dedicated online platform. Scoyo – just like Squla in the Netherlands – is free to use in the classroom. For home use, parents pay a fixed amount per month for their school-aged children. The insights and feedback are shared with the parents and teachers via a dashboard/report.