2014 Breakthrough Year for Dutch Start-up Scene

Amsterdam, 29 January 2015. 2014 has been a breakthrough year for the Dutch tech start-up ecosystem. Government has stepped up its game, accelerators and incubators are thriving and more capital than ever is flowing towards start-ups. Active early-stage investor SanomaVentures summarises its year in the SanomaVentures 2014 infographic.

infographic 2014 clip 3

Government stepping up support
The importance of start-ups for the economic development has been acknowledged by the Dutch Government, which has taken concrete action to create a more attractive environment for entrepreneurs. Criteria for temporary VISA have been eased for start-up teams and budget for government loans or guarantees for venture capital funds and innovative starters has been widened. Special envoy Neelie Kroes has launched the StartupDelta programme, with the mission to make The Netherlands one of the leading start-up hubs in Europe. As part of this initiative, the City of Amsterdam has announced an investment of €5.2 million to support start-ups and increase access to working spaces, talent and capital.

Accelerators and incubators thriving
University incubators and commercial accelerators have expanded their activities and new programs are emerging. Utrecht Inc. ranked as the world’s second fastest growing ‘knowledge based incubator’ and Amsterdam’s ACE VentureLab ranked third as best new academic incubator. Leading European accelerator StartupBootcamp expanded their presence in The Netherlands with an E-commerce program in Amsterdam and a High-Tech program in Eindhoven.

SanomaVentures crossing borders
In 2014, SanomaVentures received over 350 investment requests, talked to 124 companies and negotiated with 28 entrepreneurs, which ultimately resulted in 4 new investments. Besides these new investments SanomaVentures executed 6 follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies, of which 2 alongside international VC’s. The 14 companies in SanomaVentures’ portfolio realised an average revenue growth of 90% in 2014 and currently offer employment to over 220 people. Many portfolio companies expanded internationally; SanomaVentures itself opened a second investment office in Helsinki, Finland.

More capital
European venture capital investment last year reached its highest level since the dot-com boom according to data provider Dow Jones VentureSource. The Netherlands has not been an exception to this trend. According to a list of investment transactions compiled by StartupJuncture, Dutch tech start-ups raised a record €500 million in 2014. Adyen was the first Dutch start-up to reach the so-called unicorn status, raising €200 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion. More Dutch start-ups than ever raised series A, B or C financing rounds, such as Peerby, Blendle, 3Dhubs, CataWiki, ElasticSearch or Takeaway.com. The larger, later-stage financing rounds were mostly coming from international investors, who seem to have discovered The Netherlands as fertile grounds this year. Also more Dutch seed and early-stage investors have entered the market. SanomaVentures, active since 2012, participated last year in seven of the fifty-five listed deals between €0.1 million and €5 million funding.

Sanomaventures 2014 infographic

SanomaVentures invests in SendCloud, shipping software platform for webshops

Amsterdam, January 21, 2015 – SanomaVentures has invested in SendCloud, a new software service which offers online and offline retailers an easier and cost effective way to handle the process of customer shipments. The SendCloud software integrates webshops with shipping service providers and automates different steps in the shipping process. In addition to saving time, SendCloud also saves money for the merchants, who can benefit from the contracts SendCloud has made with various shipment service providers.

sendcloud logoThe SendCloud software solution, which among others automatically generates shipment labels and automates sending of Track & Trace e-mails, generates an average of three minutes time-saving per order. Through its platform, webshops can also benefit from SendCloud’s contracts with shipping providers and get attractive rates for local and international shipments.

Fast growth

SendCloud, based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, was founded in 2012 by Rob van den Heuvel, Bas Smeulders and Sabi Tolou. As former webshops owners, they had experienced the cumbersome and time-consuming process of preparing packages for shipping. They started SendCloud with the ambition to solve this problem and help other webshop owners. After their launch in 2013, they were selected for the StartupBootcamp Amsterdam accelerator programme and in November of last year they won the Deloitte Technology Fast50 Rising Star Award, as one of the fastest growing start-ups of the Netherlands. SendCloud has secured contracts with large shipping service providers such as PostNL and DHL and has attracted more than 1500 webshop customers to its platform.

Rob van den Heuvel: CEO and co-founder SendCloud: “Last year we have invested substantially in the development of our platform and we were able to attract a large number of new customers. With the investment of SanomaVentures we can continue to improve our service and also expand internationally. We can also benefit from the network of Sanoma in the e-commerce market.”

E-commerce optimisation

Herman Kienhuis, investment director SanomaVentures: “In the professionalizing e-commerce industry, there is increased demand for specialised e-commerce optimisation and integration services. The SendCloud team has developed a solution that offers true value to webshop owners. With our expertise and network, we think we can be a good partner to further grow this platform, both in The Netherlands and in surrounding countries.”

sendcloud video image

About SendCloud
SendCloud is an All-in-One shipping solution for webshop owners that saves them time and money Complete integration of the webshop with the system makes this possible. We offer many other timesaving modules. As a starting company with young co-owners and personnel, SendCloud is a fast and dynamic organization that is growing every week with almost 6%. SendCloud originated from the frustration of the founders as webshop owners.

http://www.sendcloud.nl | contact@sendcloud.nl

WappZapp stops service, founders join Sanoma/SBS

Amsterdam, 23th of december 2014 – Sanoma takes over the WappZapp team with the two founders Colin Ellis and Wienke Giezeman. The WappZapp service will stop in the beginning of 2015.

SanomaVentures is the venturing arm of Sanoma, aimed at investing and supporting the development of young enterprises in consumer media, e-commerce, and education. In 2013 SanomaVentures invested in WappZapp, an innovative video on demand platform.

Herman Kienhuis, investment director SanomaVentures: “WappZapp had a great team and vision and users loved its service, unfortunately it wasn’t able to generate sufficient growth and monetisation to provide for a sustainable business in this very competitive market. Therefore the team chose to stop the service. But I am very content with hiring the founders of WappZapp. Connecting with entrepreneurial talent is one of the goals of SanomaVentures, we strongly believe in the power of innovation combined with the start-up mentality.  We are glad we can continue to work with the team and profit from their knowledge and experience. This is highly valuable for us, given Sanoma/SBS’s ambition and initiatives in online video, such as video platforms KIJK.nl and Ruutu.fi, video channels from NU.nl, iltasanomat.fi and magazine brands, and the new Veronica Magazine Superguide app.”

Read the message of the founders here.

Peerby raises $2 million from international investors to bring its local sharing platform to the US

Amsterdam, 30 October 2014, Amsterdam-based local borrowing platform Peerby has raised $2.1 million. The investment round is led by French XAnge Private Equity. Netherlands-based Sanoma Ventures invested for a second time. TechStars and angels from Canada and the United States also invested. Dutch founder Daan Weddepohl is going to use the funds for product development and international growth, with a specific focus on the United States.

Peerby is a website and app that enables you to borrow the things you need from people nearby. Members and transactions are growing exponentially since the launch in September 2012. With 100,000 users Peerby has mature communities in the Netherlands and Belgium, London, Berlin, and is currently emerging in six US pilot cities.

Dutch entrepreneur and founder of Peerby Daan Weddepohl was the first to create a local borrowing marketplace for goods that has real traction. In Peerby’s hometown Amsterdam the chance that you will find that power drill or camping equipment is up to 85%. The liquidity of the marketplace, together with the steep growth curve, are the main reasons that investors like Xange, Sanoma and TechStars invested in the company. Peerby not only has a social and sustainable impact but is also of interest to investors.

Peerby will invest the funds fully to enable international growth of local communities in 50 US cities. With that growth, Peerby wants to deliver the same performance as in The Netherlands and Belgium: the majority of the requests answered within 30 minutes. In the Netherlands, Peerby will be fully committed to product development. The ambition is to reduce the response time from 30 minutes towards one minute.

Daan Weddepohl, CEO of Peerby: “We believe in a sharing city where you have instant access to everything in your neighborhood. A place where we can make the best use of modern technology by fostering human connection, building communities and highly improving the efficiency of the limited and yet abundant resources that cities host. With this investment, we are going to take the next steps towards this goal.”

Rodolphe Menegaux, XAnge: “At XAnge, we are longstanding believers in the sharing economy and we’ve been fortunate to back very strong entrepreneurs willing to make our world a better place. Peerby is the most liquid marketplace we’ve ever met and it is led by very open minded yet driven entrepreneurs. As we strongly believe that we’re now living in a world increasingly driven by usage rather than ownership, Peerby is a perfect match for us. We’re now very proud to help Peerby grow its model on a global scale and build strong local communities.”

Herman Kienhuis, SanomaVentures: “Peerby has undergone significant developments in terms of team, product and reach, not only in Dutch and Belgian cities, but also beyond. We believe Peerby will develop itself into the leading global platform for local stuff sharing and we are glad to help make this possible, this time in cooperation with international investors.”


About Peerby
Peerby is an app and website that enables people to borrow the things they need from others in their neighborhood. With Peerby you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on things you only use once or once in a while and you feel good by helping somebody out. Members post something they want to borrow, and neighbors get an email or push notification to which they can respond with a single click. It allows you to save money, meet awesome people and live green: one eighth of all the CO2 emissions in the world is caused by the production and consumption of consumer goods. Members and transactions are growing exponentially since the launch in September 2012. With
more than 100,000 active monthly members Peerby has mature communities in the Netherlands and Belgium, London, Berlin, and is currently emerging in six US pilot cities. Awards: $125,000 from the Clinton Global Initiative, B&J’s Join our Core, App My City Award.

About XAnge
“XAnge Private Equity is a regulated private equity vehicle with €360 million under management. Active in France, Germany and Western Europe, XAnge is a multi-corporate fund with both industrial and financial LPs. The XAnge venture team primarily invests in fast-growing companies of the digital, mobile, Saas software and fintech areas.

SCOUPY raises €2 million from current investors

SCOUPY, The Netherland’s biggest location based marketing platform raised an investment of 2 million euro from its current investors SanomaVentures, Gennie Freen Producties (GFP) and founders Bras, Slot and Karsten.

The new funding will be spend on further development of functionalities for local acquisition, activation and retention, as well as to secure Scoupy’s position in The Netherlands. Along with the new funding, SanomaVentures and GFP increased their stake in Scoupy by acquiring the existing shares of Netwerk VSP. With the transaction, Sanoma becomes Scoupy’s largest shareholder .

New CCO: Auke Boersma

Scoupy also attracted Auke Boersma as Chief Commercial Officer. Valentijd Bras, founder of Scoupy, comments: “We are really glad that we have been able to attract Auke. He is an established name in the world of Online- & Affiliate Marketing in The Netherlands. In his previous role, Boersma served as interim Managing Director of Videostrip, a participation of RTL, after having been involved as country manager in the start of Affilinet, rolled out the international performance based marketing activities for European Directories, and served as principal at Scoot Media. His knowledge, network and energy will help to further expand our path.”

full press release (in Dutch): http://sanomaventures.pr.co/85602-scoupy-haalt-2-miljoen-vervolgfinanciering-op-van-bestaande-investeerders

SanomaVentures invests in local commerce platform Locals United

Amsterdam, 8 September 2014 – SanomaVentures invests in the Dutch company Locals United. Locals United offers local brick & mortar stores a platform that enables easy online sales, by providing them their own webshop environment and accommodating for matters such as product photography, payments and logistics. Locals United also offers support for online promotion.

In return for a monlocalsunitedthly membership subscription, physical stores add three plug & play sales channels to their operations: a web shop under their own domain name, a shop on their Facebook page and their own shop-in-shop at LocalsUnited.nl. Starting and running an online sales channel has never been more convenient, as product photography, payments, online promotion, online inventory management and logistics are all handled by Locals United.

Taking care of everything
Locals United continuously adds new features to its platform. Among the platform’s latest features are local store recommendations and a feature known as “shop local”, which provides consumers a real-time view in the inventory of local shops. To help boost offline sales in the actual store space, Locals United also offers an innovative interactive touch screen kiosk with which customers can browse through the store’s entire collection of brands – and order products which are out of stock.

Neil Persoon, founder of Locals United, comments: “Sanoma is a strategic partner and the value of the partnership widely exceeds the financial investment. The combination of a major player’s online expertise and wide marketing scope ensures we can grow Locals United faster, in the Netherlands and abroad.”

Clicks & Bricks
Herman Kienhuis, investment director at SanomaVentures, adds: “Online and offline shopping converge. Locals United developed and marketed a successful model that bridges the gap between online and offline. We will be contributing our experience in e-commerce, which includes among others Kieskeurig.nl and in the fashion sector FashionChick.com, to help Locals United improve its services and accelerate its growth.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.10.21 AM

localsunited.com | facebook.com/localsunited | twitter.com/localsunited


FashionQlub acquires and restarts shopVIP.com

FashionQlub has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of shopVIP.com, which filed for bankruptcy in July 2014. FashionQlub is the company behind flash sales labels Goeiemode.nl, Vault79.com and 42HRSClub.com.

FashionQlub has relaunched shopVIP, which is available as of today at www.shopvip.com. shopVIP was started in 2009 and was the first closed online shopping community in The Netherlands. With over 1 million members shopVIP became one of the largest online flash sale sites in the Benelux.

Lennart Koopmans, founder of FashionQlub: “We see great opportunities in combining the activities of shopVIP with FashionQlub’s existing business. We are pleased that we have been able to acquire the assets, but we also realize that a number of shopVIP’s former customers might not have received their order or credit back due to shopVIP’s bankruptcy in July. Although we have no legal obligations towards disadvantaged shopVIP customers, we are doing our best to come to a solution for these customers as much as possible. We are working on that right now.”

FashionQlub co-founder Alexander van Wassenaar adds: “Luckily we also get great responses from shopVIP customers who are glad to see shopVIP return. And we were able to attract some of the staff of shopVIP which will help us in continuing the business.”

The best deals
The acquisition of shopVIP and bundling of the activities with FashionQlub creates one of the biggest players in the Dutch market for online flash sales. With its labels Goeiemode.nl, Goeiemode.be, 42HRSclub, Vault79.com and now also shopVIP.com, FashionQlub aims to further develop and expand its services offered to its shopping communities.

About FashionQlub
FashionQlub is one of the biggest online flash sales companies in the Benelux, offering premium brands at exclusive discounts via various websites and media, such as private labels Goeiemode.nl, Goeiemode.be, 42HRSclub.com and Vault79.com as well as for De Telegraaf, Veronica Magazine, VIVA, Shedeals.be and Fashionchick. FashionQlub focus is on fashion for both women and men, but it is expanding into other product categories as well. FashionQlub runs its own fulfillment center where all orders and shipments are processed every day.

FashionQlub.com  |  goeiemode.nl | goeiemode.be | 42hrsclub.com | vault79.comshopvip.com

Nosto Closes $5.5 Million Series A Funding Led by Wellington

Helsinki – 15 July 2014 – Nosto Solutions, the market leader in e-commerce personalization, has secured a $5.5 million round of financing led by Pan-European venture capital firm Wellington Partners with participation from existing investors Open Ocean Capital and SanomaVentures, along with Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Nosto is the first company to launch a self-service marketing automation solution for the global e-commerce industry. Since launch in October 2013, Nosto has added over 1200 online retailers to its international client list and revenues have grown by more than 500%. Nosto has identified the growing need for online stores to differentiate themselves within the expanding international e-commerce market and this new round of funding allows Nosto to continue its strategy of global expansion.

Founded in Helsinki in 2011, Nosto has developed a cloud-based big data SaaS solution (patent pending) that enables online retailers to deliver a personalized shopping experience to individual customers based on their unique user behavior. Through implementing a simple plug and play solution, Nosto offers retailers full personalization of their online store. Nosto’s marketing automation tools help any online merchant to increase conversion, customer retention and online store revenues. Nosto’s bespoke features include e.g. on-site recommendations and personalized triggered emails.

“Our mission is to make online shopping more enjoyable by delivering customers personalized shopping experiences. After successfully releasing our self service solution last autumn, and seen the huge interest, we continue fulfilling our mission by building new tools to help people connect with the products they want across their entire shopping journey.” says Juha Valvanne, CEO and Founder of Nosto. To get the backing of an organization like Wellington Partners is a strong validation of our business and our technology. This funding enables us to continue investing substantially in innovation, technology and people.”

Eric Archambeau, Wellington Partners’ Managing Partner commented:

“Wellington is dedicated to its strategy of investing early in very promising European digital media and software companies to help them to roll-out their product globally. We have extensive experience of investing in e-commerce analytics and marketing automation tools and are delighted to be supporting Nosto at this exciting time in the company’s growth. We see a huge opportunity for a new generation of such tools to help small and medium-sized online stores level the playing field in terms of performance against e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Rakuten. These big companies have developed a data-driven advantage over smaller web shops that could not afford the same level of R&D in data mining and predictive modeling. The combination of deep technology and simplicity offered by Nosto made us very excited about joining forces with Nosto’s founders and existing investors.”

Since its seed funding round in April 2013, launching its self service solution, and following the hire of Matti Rönkkö, former Global Venture Development Director at Rocket Internet to lead the global expansion, Nosto has tripled the size of its team with new recruits from Google, Amazon and other global e-commerce players.

SanomaVentures invests in ‘social commerce’ start up Social Shop

Amsterdam,  April 30, 2014 – SanomaVentures invests in Social Shop, a social commerce platform for consumers to promote their favourite products and offer special discounts to friends. A new way for companies and brands to activate their customers as their ambassadors and generate sales.

The Social Shop platform (www.socialshop.nl) enables enthusiastic customers to set up their own online shop, in which they can select and promote their favourite products and offer special deals to their friends. This way, these so called ‘Shopkeepers’ are activated as brand advocates and as a new sales channel. For every sale to a friend, they can earn a transparent commission. This commission is for them to keep or to give away to their friends who are buying their favourites.

30.000 shopkeepers
Social Shop was founded in 2012 by Sander Dullaart and won an Accenture Innovation Award a year later in 2013. Dullaart previously co-founded social business consultancy Favela Fabric, which was sold recently. More than 30.000 people have opened their own shop and the number keeps on growing. Not only the number of shops, but likewise the number of partners is growing rapidly: A-brands such as KPN and ANWB have recently joined and offer special deals to Social Shop shopkeepers and their friends.

Smart Money
Sander Dullaart: ”Not only were we looking for additional growth capital, we also wanted expertise in the field of online marketing, lead generation and e-commerce. With Sanoma we found that, plus, the portfolio of Sanoma and SanomaVentures offers many opportunities for cooperation which can further accelerate our growth”.

Social Commerce
Herman Kienhuis, Investment Director SanomaVentures: “Sanoma sees ample growth opportunities in ‘social commerce’, meaning mouth-to-mouth marketing via digital channels, effectively generating sales. Social Shop has developed a unique platform which rewards enthusiastic customers and attracts new customers for its partners and can complement Sanoma’s offering in this space”.

International ambition
The investment by Sanoma, will be used by Social Shop to further develop the platform and roll out the concept within the Netherlands. In a later stage, an international roll out will be prepared. Social Shop has great ambitions; it foresees a future where the majority of online commerce will be driven by social recommendations.


Labster wins the Sanoma Startup Challenge at The Next Web Conference 2014

Amsterdam, April 25, 2014. Laboratory simulation training company Labster has won the first edition of the Sanoma Startup Challenge, out of 5 selected educational startups, pitching at the EDU track of the The Next Web Conference 2014.

With over 100 startups that applied for the Sanoma Startup Challenge event, five EdTech champions had been selected and today each of the companies took to the stage to pitch to the audience and the judging committee, consisting of John Martin, CEO Sanoma Learning, Herman Kienhuis from SanomaVentures, Johan Merlevede and Jyri Ahti from Sanoma Learning and Dutch serial entrepreneur Rutger Peters.

Labster, founded in 2011 by Mads Bonde and Michael Bodekaer from Denmark, has developer revolutionary 3D laboratory simulation software that enhances education for students of bio-sciences, and is being sold to high schools and universities around the world. By using Labster, students can effectively learn how to operate laboratory equipment, normally worth more than 5 million dollar and also get educated on the processes that take place during the various analysis.

Leading up to the final event at The Next Web Conference, the five finalists participated in two days of workshops, receiving pitch training and in-depth mentoring from Sanoma experts and executives. As the final winner of the Sanoma Startup Challenge, Labster received a cash prize of 25,000 euro.

Herman Kienhuis, from SanomaVentures handed over the 25,000 euro cheque to Mads Bonde, co-founder of Labster.

The other four finalist were:

  • WeWantToKnow (Norway) creates learning solutions based on games, teaching difficult subjects in an easy, quick, fun and effective way.
  • EduKey (Wales) improves student behavior in schools seating by offering seating charts & behavior management software.
  • Eduvee (England) is an intuitive learning and tutoring platform that integrates and delivers personalized curriculum mapped multi-media content to learners on any device.
  • Jumpido (Bulgaria) re-imagines education through games combining physical exercise with engaging math problems.

About Sanoma Corporation
Get the world. Sanoma helps people access and understand the world. Sanoma is a front runner in consumer media and learning in Europe. We employ around 10,000 professionals in more than 10 countries. In 2013, the Group’s net sales totalled EUR 2.2 billion. Sanoma’s share is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.
sanoma.com | twitter.com/sanoma

About Sanoma Learning
Sanoma Learning is one of Europe’s leading learning providers for the K12 education sector. Our 1,600 employees are connected by a passion for learning and a mission to improve the impact of education. We offer learning solutions, either in print, hybrid or digital formats, to take personalized learning to a higher level and improve learning outcomes while increasing efficiency.  We are a respected partner in education, working at the forefront of educational reform and innovation. We reach more than 40 countries globally and in Europe where we have strong local roots in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.
learning.sanoma.com | twitter.com/sanoma_learning