Startup Fest Europe bringing Silicon Valley A-List CEOs including Tim Cook to Amsterdam

Techpats living in Europe … are you in the right place at the right time; 2016 is going to be a huge year for tech events and expanded efforts to build Europe’s startup culture.

There are at least a dozen mega-conferences and that many more new incubator/accelerators planned across Europe for 2016, including the annual TNW Conference in Amsterdam coming up in late May and VIVA Technology Paris later this summer, for which we get weekly updates.

That said, there was one that wasn’t really on our radar till now, but certainly should have been. Or as Dutch tech advocate Neelie Kroes puts on the Startup Fest Europe website: 

“Imagine an entire country working together to organize the biggest startup festival on the planet.”

cook-kalanick-600x285• Startup Fest Europe, 25 May to 28 May, Amsterdam.

(Editor’s note: This event is being held in conjunction with the Netherlands’ 6-month rotating “presidency” of the European Union – from Jan. 1 through June 31. Dutch officials will chair meetings both at EU headquarters/operations in Brussels and Luxembourg City, acting as facilitators during meetings between the 28 EU countries, as well as between EU institutions such as the European Commission and European Parliament.)

Startup Fest Europe is a week-long festival scheduled during the European presidency. And in that vein of being a showcase event for Europe’s effort to create a digital startup culture, there’s very much a political element to what promises to be a stellar event with some amazing names.

Airbnb’s Nathan Blecharczyk, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick (who’s also CEO of Twitter) are just a few of the Silicon Valley A-listers scheduled to participate. Here’s the deal: Former European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, now envoy to Holland’s StartupDelta effort, personally invited Cook and Kalanick during her 2015 visit to San Francisco with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

A Dutch startup executive close to Kroes also confirmed to Dispatches Europe that Cook & Co. are coming to Startup Fest Europe. Other huge gets include Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Adyen co-founder Pieter van der Does.

Here’s the full list of CEOs and VIPs from the StartupDelta website.

  • Jack Ma is the lead founder of Alibaba Group. Jack is a pioneer in the Chinese Internet industry and has recently stated he wanted to focus more on the United States and Europe;
  • Tim Cook is Apple’s CEO since 2011. In 2015 Apple was the first company to reach the market capitalization of 700 billion;
  • Travis Kalanick is co-founder and CEO of Uber. Uber brings disruptive technology and business innovation to urban transportation challenges;
  • Mark Rutte is Prime Minister of the Netherlands; currently the Netherlands holds the presidency of the council of the European Union.
  • Andrus Ansip is vice-president of the European Commission and responsible for the Digital Single Market;
  • Kevin Hale is building one of the most successful accelerators in the world. Y Combinator has invested in more than 750 companies, with a total sum of 700 million dollars;
  • Pieter van der Does is co-founder of Adyen, an online payment company that is famous for being the Dutch “unicorn”;
  • Camille François researches the intersection of new technology and politics with a focus on robotics and cybersecurity. Camille has led initiatives in organizations such as the French Prime Minister’s task force on Open Data & Open Government, Mozilla, DARPA as well as Google, the French-American Foundation & the Software Freedom Law Centre;
  • Professor Daniël Shechtman is an Israeli Nobel Prize winner known for his expertise on tech entrepreneurship;
  • Nathan Blecharczyk is one of the founders of Airbnb. He is now Airbnb’s chief technology officer;
  • Gillian Tans has been CEO of since 2011 and its president since 2015;
  • Reshma Sohoni, an engineer who has an MBA, founded Seedcamp in 2007, where she helps European founders attain the success they crave. With an excellent mix of technological acumen, commercial drive and marketing skills she knows what a business needs.

The way organizers are framing the narrative is that for one week, “the Netherlands will be the center of the global startup community.”

Thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs, developers, hackers, investors and corporate innovators are expected to attend more than 28 events planned in 14 Dutch cities. Those cities are Amsterdam, Arnhem, Delft, Eindhoven, Enschede, Geleen, Leeuwarden, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Wageningen and Zwolle.
The opening event will take place in Amsterdam’s former stock exchange, the Beurs van Berlage. Cook, Kalanick and others are scheduled as keynote speakers.

The following week, the event will spread out to startup hubs throughout the Netherlands:

The nitty-gritty details:

• All this exposure comes with a price. Corporate/investor tickets to the opening event are 995 euros. Startup-only tickets are 195 euros. You can buy tickets here, but be forewarned admissions will be limited. Each separate Startup Fest Europe event has its own criteria for admission, according to the website.

• Startup Fest Europe is a matchmaking event for startups from Europe and those that want to enter the European market. As such, there are no geographical limitations for startups who want to participate, according to the website.

• For investors, there will be a Startup Garden … sort of a fast-lane for startups that already have revenue of at least 200,000 euros per year.

• Aside from the opening night event and VIP gala, separate Startup Fest Europe events have their own criteria for admission, according to the website. Some will charge admission while others will be free. Some have a specific target audience while others are open to the public.

• All events will have their own registration process. Keep an eye on the different event pages for more details or subscribe to the Startup Fest Europe newsletter to find out when registration for the events will open.

• Amsterdam is crowded any time of year, but with two big startup events going on, best to book now. The event is offering some deals for you.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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