How To Find the Right Investor

How To Find the Right Investor

Raising capital for your startup could be compared to the Dutch winter: it is dreadful and takes ages. Chances are that you cannot wait to convince potential investors of your genius concept, in order to get them to reach for their wallets. However, finding the right investor should not be underestimated. It would probably be wise not to just target the investor with the deepest pockets. Instead, you want to find somebody who can relate to your vision. Somebody who fully understands the challenges ahead and is familiar with your field of business. As corny as it may sound, the right investor will provide you with more than just dollar bills. Here is how to go about it.

Understand Your Options
First things first. That is, you need to understand your options and what type of funding is suitable for you at this point in time. Are you looking for private equity, venture capital or an angel investor? Of course everybody is eager to get that VC money. However, whether this is realistic, very much depends on the stage you are at. That is, different investors can bring about different perks. For instance, angel investors can brings loads of individual expertise but often lack the resources that VCs have. On the other hand, angel investors tend to play less hard to get with their initial requirements, whereas VCs mostly demand hard, empirical evidence that your idea is bulletproof. The lesson? If you find yourself at the early stages of running a business, chances are you will have more success with an angel investor than with a VC. Are you scaling? Then, it might be time to aim for the VCs.

Perfect Your Pitch
Don’t underestimate the power of your pitchdeck. This document could be one of the most important documents you will ever create. It is holy. Truly. A good pitchdeck should set a hook, it should make those investors hungry for more. To do that effectively, ask yourself a couple of questions. What is the problem you are solving? Who are you solving it for? Who is in your team and why are you capable of delivering what you promise? And not to be disregarded: what is the revenue model? Is that realistic and how will the revenue flow into the investors’ pockets in turn? 

If you manage to bring across clearly what you envision for your company and how you will live up to it, the investors that are on the same page as you will recognize your potential.

Know Who You Are Talking To
Upon meeting with a potential investor, it is important that you understand who this person is. As such, ask questions about previous investments they have undertaken. What kind of background does this investor have? How knowledgeable and experienced is he/she? Running a little background check is probably not a bad idea before you get all excited.

Compare Preferences
Once you found an investor, it might be wise to manage some expectations. Therefore, you will probably want to assess if this person is going to fit your precious company culture. For instance, is the investor’s vision different than your company’s? Does the investor prefer a hands on or hands off approach? What role does the investor see for him or herself in the company? Those are all important questions that should be managed before you decide to join forces. 

Are you currently looking for an investor that matches your business? Maybe we can help…

About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through. 

Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]

Amsterdam’s Upcoming Startup Events You Want to RSVP For

Amsterdam’s Upcoming Startup Events You Want to RSVP For

As the days are slowly getting longer, so is the Amsterdam startup agenda. So why not prepare for spring with a valuable lesson, a useful connection or a little party? We put together a list of startup events that you’ll want to RSVP for today.

Event: Amsterdam Career Days 
Date: 2 – 6 March 
Location: WTC Amsterdam 
Link:  click here
This event is actually aimed at students, as VU university and UvA university collaborate to help their students navigate their future careers. It is mostly meant for students with a background in accounting, business administration, econometrics, economics and finance. So if you are looking for talent, you might want to get involved. 

Event: Moonshot Fest 2020 (hosted by B Building Amsterdam)
Date: 5 March 2020
Location: Johan Huizingalaan 763a ground floor & café restaurant Bureau
Link: click here 
This event celebrates entrepreneurship and so all entrepreneurial spirits are invited. The theme is the human side of tech, which sounds interesting, doesn’t it? There is a full programme, featuring interesting speakers, live podcasts, panels and (after)parties. Tickets are very affordable (€ 74.50), so you better claim yours fast! 

Event: Chinese incubator talk, about what China, the incubator & government can offer!
Date: 2 April 2020 (might be rescheduled due to, well you know, Corona)
Location: A’Dam & CO (18th Floor)
Link:  click here
A Chinese incubator from Beijing will come to Amsterdam, on the search for startups and scaleups, especially those involving blockchain. There are only 50 spots, so you might want to RSVP. 

Event: Appril Festival
Date: 22 & 23 April
Location: Pathé de Munt
Link: click here
This event is centered around mobile business, new technologies and app development. The speakers are all part of a nationwide platform and includes visionaries, app publishers and tech professional that have interesting insights to share. 

Event: Emerce NEXT 
Date: 26 May
Location: Beurs van Berlage 
Link:  click here
Emerce NEXT is all about the newest technologies and its applications in business, media and society. There will be tons of game-changers talking about coding & development, big data & analytics, artificial intelligence, Growth Hacking, smart cities, augmented & virtual reality, gamification, 5G technology, blockchain & cryptocurrency. 

About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through. 

Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]

How To Win in the War for Talent

How To Win in the War For Talent

It might seem contradictory, but in our world which is getting more techy every day and where artificial intelligence is taking over jobs at the speed of light, the human element is still a major force behind any successful company. As such, it should not come as a surprise that many businesses will go out of their way to design a well-thought through employee experience, and translate this into fancy employee journeys. Similarly, recruiters  are no longer looking for “new employees” but rather for “talent”, so much so that an actual war for talent has emerged. But, if you think about it, it is actually quite logical. At the end of the day, any business boils down to people. Properly understanding the human element in business, will lead to better hires, less employee turnover, higher quality work, more efficiency and eventually profitability. So, next to attracting talent, this war for talent also involves retaining it. Let’s zoom in.

“Generation Z is likely to change jobs as many as 10 times between the age of 18-34 and 44% of millenials are expected to leave their jobs within the coming two years.”

Changing Demographics
The workforce’s face is changing and it is changing rapidly. 20 years ago, it was still dominated by baby boomers and generation X, who were driven by materialism, status and would spend decades climbing up the company ladder. Today, millennials (or generation Y) make up roughly 50% of the workforce. To add to that, generation Z, born after 1995, is making its way onto the labor market too. These generations have completely different ideas about work than previous generations. They value, freedom, flexibility and it is important to them that they do meaningful work. If this is not the case, they will simply change jobs. To illustrate, generation Z is likely to change jobs as many as 10 times between the age of 18-34 and 44% of millenials are expected to leave their jobs within the coming two years, according to research by Staffbase. To boomers, those numbers must sound crazy. Thus, the developments show that employees are less loyal to a company than they used to be and that companies will need to go the extra mile to prove they are worth of gen Y’s and gen Z’s precious time. After all, talent is scarce. So, what can companies do get a piece of the pie?

1. Make Employee Engagement a Top Priority
Engaging workplaces usually don’t go unnoticed. 87% of organizations consider maintaining a strong company culture and employee engagement a top challenge, however, less than half of those companies believe they do not have a good enough employee retention program in place. So, something is going wrong here. In order to turn those numbers around, it could be an idea to introduce a company wide engagement board. This board would then be responsible for guarding and promoting a rich engagement culture, by understanding engagement from the employees’ point of view. Based on the generated insights, the team can develop strategies to further enhance employee engagement.

2. Get Flexible
As mentioned earlier, the new workforce highly values flexibility. Thus, if you are looking to retain those smart kids, it would only be logical to really offer the flexibility desired. Seriously, gen Y and gen Z want to be able to work any time from anywhere, so you might want to get creative when it comes to allowing holidays, working remotely or scheduling meetings. Naturally, this demands a shift in the way we think about management, work style and the way we trust. A common pitfall is that managers tend to be afraid their staff doesn’t actually work when they are not in their field of vision. Ironically, the office is an extremely ineffective place to get work done, as we highlighted in this blogpost. As such, getting flexible could also involve redesigning the organizational structures or rethinking the concept of authority. All those factors, should then also be reflected in the company culture. 

3.The Psychological Angle
Key is, to create an environment and atmosphere in which people actually enjoy spending time. That is, companies will need to get inside the heads of their employees to find out what makes their clocks tick. Therefore, it could be an idea to get some social scientists on board. Unsurprisingly, organizational psychology is one of today’s fastest growing professions. Such professionals could provide valuable insights on longer-term organizational design. That includes how companies hire, recruit, design work spaces, manage or even run entire departments.

To conclude, the talent for war is serious and companies are struggling with attracting and retaining talent. The new generations highly value autonomy and flexibility and easily switch jobs when something is not to their liking. As such, companies should design strong company cultures: environments where people feel free, involved and purposeful. Therefore, employee engagement, redesigning the concept of flexibility and understanding the workplace from a psychological standpoint should be high on your corporate agenda.

About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through. 

Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]

The Blockchain Trust Paradox

The Blockchain Trust Paradox

When Bitcoin was introduced in late 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, the person/persons/company/nation or whatever the pseudonym may symbolize, it was claimed that Bitcoin transactions would be based on cryptographic algorithms instead of trust. Zooming in, it can be observed that this is due to the underlying blockchain technology, which is fundamentally changing the way people trust. For the first time in human history, a permanent, public record of who owns what could be created, without mediation of a centralized third party. A single source of truth, doesn’t that sound idyllic? Well, not really. In the meantime, our friend Nakamoto mysteriously vanished from this planet. As did the cryptocurrency hype. Still, blockchain technology holds huge potential for business. But blockchain seems to be about more than clever code. In fact, there is a very human element that plays a vital role for  blockchain’s mass adoption: good old human trust.

“Why is it so difficult to establish and maintain trust in blockchain’s applications?”

The relationship between trust and blockchain matters because blockchain is not as “trustless” or “trust-free” as was initially promised. The thing is, that trust is a very complex, multi-layered concept, difficult to describe and measure, yet incredibly important for the adoption of blockchain and its applications, such as cryptocurrency. In fact, the word “trust” is said to be the most frequently used word in any discussion about the sharing economy, the over-aching movement of  blockchain. Although blockchain theoretically holds a promise of trust, this does not automatically make blockchain and cryptocurrency trustworthy. After all, blockchain was said to be unhackable, but recent hacking scandals, in which billions worth of cryptocurrencies have been stolen or vanished, have caused insecurities and trust issues among society, complemented by various claims relating cryptocurrency to money laundering. Clearly, such insecurities seem to stand in the way of cryptocurrencies’ mass adoption, acceptance and success. As such, the central question that arises is, why is it so difficult to establish and maintain trust in blockchain’s applications, in this digital era in which trust is so hard to build and so easy to destroy? 

However complex trust may be, trust depends on a critical balance between vulnerability and expectation. Overall, trust increases when the social distance between the trustor and trustee becomes smaller, as people tend to put more trust in people they perceive as socially familiar. This psychological approach explains how trust impacts a wide array of environments, ranging from intimate relationships, to the workplace and (inter)national societies. Actually, trust seems to be so important now, that some people make a living of it.

Trust expert Rachel Botsman describes trust as “the remarkable forces that pulls one over the gap from the known to the unknown.” Her research about the evolution of trust reveals that trust is shifting from being institutional towards being distributed. This means that people are starting to trust central intermediaries less (e.g. banks, insurance companies, governments, the media), and their peers more, enabled by online tools. As such, she explains the success of many sharing economy platforms such as Blablacar, Airbnb or Uber. People are used to paying their trusted intermediaries in order to guarantee trust. As those intermediaries are being made redundant by blockchain, they will increasingly need to prove their value in their attempts not to be replaced by a general ledger.

So, on the one hand, blockchain transparency, traceability and unhackability provide a promise of trust, because people can reliably agree on what the general ledger states is correct. On the other hand, people are reluctant to trust blockchain because of its association with the black market, hacking scandals and because blockchain’s anonymity makes it impossible to judge the degree to which peers have similar social values, which is what people used to base their willingness to trust on. 

At the end of the day, trust is an extremely complex matter, referred to by Botsman as “the glue that holds society together” but trust also seems to be the glue that holds blockchain together. It is so difficult to build and maintain because blockchain is a double-edged sword. Blockchain holds a promise of trust, but promises need to be lived up to in order to withstand. 

What do you do to build and maintain trust? We are curious to find out!

About Amstel Lab

Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through. 

 

Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]