Beeld: FundsUp
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Fundsup connects investors and numerous entrepreneurs who own promising start-ups with each other via a digital platform. On this platform, start-ups can pitch their business and state how much capital they are looking for. Start-ups can pitch for free on the app. Private investors and investment funds that subscribe to the network pay for this service and receive a message when there is a new request for capital from a start-up that matches their investment criteria. A lot of investors have had their own company or business. They find it interesting to be involved in new initiatives like this,” said CEO and co-founder Heiko Knot.

Founders Heiko Knot and Arjen Strijker of Fundsup Photo: Fundsup

Why did you set up Fundsup?

“The way start-ups have had to look for investors sup until now has never been very efficient. They’ve got to attend a lot of events which investors sign up to. Or they had to fill out a standard form for a venture capital fund that specifies what kind of investment they need, what kind of start-up they are and whether they are eligible for an investment. Every time an event comes along, they’ve got to prepare a pitch. This is time consuming for investors too. You are often talking about people who have a limited amount of time and who want to be informed as quickly as possible about start-ups that interest them. This all happens much faster with our app. They receive a message with a pitch from a new start-up. If they don’t find it interesting, they ‘swipe’ it away. If they do find it interesting, they send a message.”

You also said that certain investors only come to an event for drinks, and that they’re not seriously planning to invest in any of the start-ups that are pitching there.

“Unfortunately, that happens. They’ll meet with some other investors and go to those pitches to have a good time. They probably don’t realize how annoying that is for the start-ups. It’s not a good thing for the start-ups, because they have to work hard on their business and end up constantly wasting their time preparing pitches. Many of which don’t match up at all with the interests of the investors that they’re trying their best for.”

Can you also drop investors?

Yes, we do. For example, if an investor tries to promote their own business through our app by offering services in exchange for shares in the start-up. That’s not the purpose.”

What has been the main obstacle that you’ve had to overcome?

“How do you begin a two-sided marketplace? At the start, it’s very difficult to build a database. It’s about building up trust that you need. The start-ups need time to create their profiles. In the beginning it is also difficult to get the right kind of high quality start-ups because you don’t have a well-known name yet. A parallel can be drawn with dating platforms. In the beginning all the good-looking people thought: I’m not going on that, I’ll find someone just around the corner. But nowadays it’s much more normal to find a relationship this way. It’s a bit like that here, too. Now everything is ‘appified’. We’ve resolved this by linking our platform to incubators and accelerators from universities, for example. That’s where a lot of high-quality start-ups come from.”

Was that also your most important breakthrough so far?

Yes, we work with academic incubators and accelerators like UtrechtInc, YesDelft, Novel-T in Enschede, Ace Incubator in Amsterdam and StartLife in Wageningen, High Tech XL in Eindhoven, among others.

What would you like to accomplish this year with Fundsup?

We want to extend our contracts with incubators and accelerators at universities across Europe like an oil slick. We’ve just signed an agreement with a university in Berlin.”

Where do you want to be five years from now?

“Then we’ll be looking in other parts of the world. There’s something like five hundred incubators in Bejing, for one thing.We already know people in China who I think can help us with that. I think there’s plenty to do in Asia. The generations of rich people are getting younger and they understand our concept too. They have a do-it-yourself mentality. They themselves just want to invest and not have someone sitting next to them on the couch telling them what to do.”