(Editor’s note: We started the Eindhoven Business Briefing in 2017, because we had more news in our headquarters city – which has a huge expat population – than we could possibly post. Eindhoven is way more than just another tech hub … it’s one of the most liveable innovation centers in Europe. The future really is being invented here. Send your news to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s all systems go for our first Tech Sister Cities event 12 September at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven Conference Center.
This inaugural event, funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, focuses on how more risk-tolerant investors in the United States view startups and scale-up opportunities in the Netherlands, where risk capital is in short supply.
“Eyes Wide Open: How American Investors See the World” features Jonathan Blue, chairman of Blue Equity … and you! Jonathan will discuss the deals he’s done all over the world, then talk about how successful American investors see the current risk landscape. And you … you will ask the tough questions you’ve always wanted to ask a bold investor.
This unique night is the culmination of an effort that started two years ago when we were coming off a very intense four years of starting, then selling, our first media company. We arrived in Eindhoven in 2016 after raising the initial seed capital through our American network to start Dispatches. So the fundraising experience was fresh in our minds.
As we met more and more people in the Eindhoven ecosystem, we were struck by how different the startup game is played here than even in our hometown of Louisville, Ky. We realized that had we tried to raise money here in Europe, Dispatches would have never launched.
Most, if not all, of the startups in Eindhoven go after government subsidies instead of early stage investors. We believe that’s a mistake for a lot of reasons, including the fact that startup teams bypass learning fundamental fund-raising skills such as hustling to get face time with investors and effective pitching tactics once they do.
In the U.S., we needed to raise $1 million with our first venture, and we were able to get in to see a prominent VC … who promptly turned us down. But at some point in the process, he said, “Look, I’m not going to give you a million dollars, but I know a guy ….” (Fun fact: He actually did invest in the business, but only after we sold it to another serial investor.)
A few months after that meeting, we were funded. So many of the people we knew in Louisville’s tiny startup community also went on to get major funding, including Alex Frommeyer and his team at Beam Dental, who got an A-Round via Drive Capital in Columbus. Beam just got another $22.5 million round from Kleiner Perkins, the original Sand Hill Road VC firm.
That could never happen here. We want to change that.
So we created Tech Sister Cities to link Eindhoven to more risk-tolerant investors in the Midwest, specifically St. Louis, Louisville, Nashville and Columbus.
That would include Jonathan. I first met Jonathan as a business reporter. I’d written a post about local venture capitalists – mostly angel and early-stage investors – and left him off the list. He sent me a very polite email pointing out my oversight. To which I responded, “Jonathan … you and Blue Equity are in a different league.” And it was true. He’d done deals with everyone from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to Paris-based media conglomerate Lagardère group.
While VC firms such as Chrysalis Ventures made more investments in tech, Jonathan had the headline deals including:
• the sale of Blue Entertainment Sports Television, or BEST to Lagardère in 2010. Then in 2015, he jumped back into sports management.
• the purchase in 2012 of Cool Petroleum, which included 50 gas stations. Cool also sold fuel, lubricants and raw chemical materials in bulk for commercial fleets and heavy machinery. Cool was reimagined, restructured and rebranded as The Antilles Group and sold to Paris-based The Rubis Group in 2013.
• an investment in Angel’s Envy bourbon in 2013. We’re from Kentucky, so we know bourbon, and this new brand was one of the most promising. However, they’d hit a number of snags including problems related to building an urban distillery complex. Blue Equity invested in July 2013, and Hamilton, Bermuda-based spirits giant Bacardi Ltd. acquired Angel’s Envy in March 2015.
We invited Jonathan to come to Eindhoven first because we’ve heard him speak to investors and players and he’s very good … enthusiastic and inspiring. He’s also helped us along the way with informal mentoring during lunches and meetings. And to be clear, he’s a private-equity investor. Unlike venture capitalists, he invests in mature companies that need capital and improved management on the way to an acquisition by a larger company.
Blue Equity focuses on several areas including:
Oil & Gas
Sports & Entertainment
Celebrity Chefs / Culinary
Wine, Spirits Distillation & Retailing
We know he has the world-vision and experience that can really benefit entrepreneurs here. And the bottom line is, there are several startups we know of here who are probably going to need private equity sooner than later, so we think he can, well, open some eyes to how American investors view the risk-capital landscape in 2018.
Eyes Wide open is free and, best of all, it’s going to be fun! You can sign up here.
– Terry Boyd
Sioux invests in Lightyear
Eindhoven-based software company Sioux (pronounced “see-uuks” in Dutch, not “sue” as in English) has announced it’s investing in Lightyear, the company that’s designing the first self-charging solar car. Oh, and they also bought a car, No. 6 of the first of 10 solar cars scheduled to be produced in 2019.
Sioux will be involved in developing “the car of the future,” both as an investor and as a technology partner as Lightyear closes out its A-round. “As an investor, Sioux supports this promising initiative to make environment-friendly mobility accessible to everyone, using a hyper-modern electric solar car that charges itself,” according to the Sioux website. Lightyear has raised about 5 million euros.
Which is all mildly interesting. What’s more interesting is Sioux itself. Sioux has 15 offices in seven countries, working with about 600 engineers on innovative solutions for international high-tech companies, according to its website. As with Lightyear, it invests in startups and new companies. The company has worked on, or developed independently, a massive number of products ranging from embedded software for high-tech manufacturers (read semiconductors) to solar energy. Plus, they have the coolest video (above) of any we’ve seen coming out of Eindhoven.
And somehow, we never heard of them.
Stockholm and Paris get the headlines, but Eindhoven pumps the money
Here’s a fact that blew our minds: Of the five most valuable tech companies in Europe by market cap, four are Dutch, according to Dealbook. Three of the four are either based in Eindhoven or have the majority of their research operations there.
No. 1 is SAP, the giant German software firm (121 billion as of late June)
No. 2 is Booking.com, based in Amsterdam (82 billion)
No. 3 is ASML, based in Eindhoven (73 billion)
No. 4 is Philips, based in Amsterdam, but started here and has most of its R&D in Eindhoven (34 billion)
No. 5 is NXP, based in Eindhoven (34 billion)
Down the list at No. 14 is Adyen (12 billion) based in Amsterdam.
HighTechXL seeking trainees
What’s that sound? Destiny calling? Opportunity knocking? Today could be your lucky day….
HighTechXL, Eindhoven’s high-tech accelerator, is offering 6-month traineeships to work with them after the summer holidays.
They are looking for “sherpas.” You know the type: Someone who helps you climb the mountain and guides you through the program.
HighTechXL is searching for people who are:
• driven by innovation and building a business
• have an international mindset
• team players
• interested in working in a dynamic organization
They are offering:
• 6-month experience in a fast-growing business environment
• the opportunity to work closely with big corporations such as ASML, Philips and other tech giants
• a possible assignment in Shanghai (!)
Casting Day is set for 23 August from 13:00-17:00.
Please email your CV to email@example.com by Monday, August 20.
(Editor’s note: Don’t pay attention to the dates at the end of the video above! They have been extended and you still have time to apply by August 20.)
More housing planned or under construction
It’s hard to keep track of all the new housing projects across Eindhoven. That’s a good thing because more people are arriving at this tech innovation center than can be housed.
Housing prices are also rising with the average price 287,000 euros for Q2, 2018, up 10.6 percent from 265,000 from the same quarter, 2017, according to the InTheNeighborhood Eindhoven website.
• The most visible new construction is the Onyx Tower coming up in front of the Victoria Park Complex in the Mathildelaan district just west of Centrum. Onyx tower will ultimately be 23 stories with 135 apartments and a luxury penthouse on the top floor. Each story has six apartments, each about 70 m2, or 750 square feet. The tower is scheduled to open in mid-2019.
• The demolition of the former Summa College / Philips Business School on Frederiklaan started last month. The site will be redeveloped into 442 homes.
• The BunkerToren project, announced a couple of years ago, apparently is still on. The idea was to take an old Brutalist building that had been the student center at the Technical University of Eindhoven and turn it into housing by adding a 25-floor highrise. The location is ideal, right on Kennedylaan, just north of Centrum, on the green TU/e campus.