KPN Startup Evening: The best in networking, negotiating and noshing comes to Eindhoven

(Editor’s note: This could have been a lot better reported, but we were having too much fun networking and noshing.)

Dispatches Europe goes to a lot of startup/tech events and we keep expecting them to start blending into one another. But luckily for us, so far they haven’t, as we’ve been everywhere from Rotterdam to Vienna.

On Thursday, 5 September KPN Startup Evening came to Eindhoven after events in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other Dutch innovation hubs. Startup Evenings bring together startups, scale-ups, corporates and investors. There’s speed-dating and lots of networking in a very relaxed evening.

An extra special bonus is seeing a lot of innovative companies that are KPN partners or have received an investment including robotics startups such as RoNik, IoT and healthcare startup/scale-ups.

The KPN event in Eindhoven – the 14th in the series of quarterly events – had a lot going for it, including its being the first time the big Rotterdam telecom brought its traveling startup talent search to Eindhoven. Marie-José van den Boomgard, KPN liaison manager startups, said it was about time because Eindhoven has one of the highest concentration of advanced high-tech R&D operations in the Netherlands: “This is the place to be.”


In opening remarks, KPN CFO Jan Kees de Jager noted that KPN had connected with – and invested in – Amber Mobility, the Eindhoven-based car-sharing platform after the Amber team through a Startup Evening.

De Jager encouraged attendees to use Startup Evening to search out the people they need to know and to make the connections they’ll need in the future: “Go lay the foundation for your future success.”

Through its KPN Ventures, the ICT giant invests in startups and scale-ups relevant to its core business including IoT, digital healthcare, networking technology, analytics and cloud computing.

Investments range between 500,000 euros and 2.5 million euros.  

Key investment criteria include:

• an experienced and diverse team

• an innovative product with unique competitive advantage

• international market potential

• potential for cooperation with KPN

KPN generally is looking for companies with traction, including 500,000 euros in top-line revenue.

Most of the 300-plus attendees at High Tech Campus Conference Center had startups related to Eindhoven’s strengths, including hardware and semi-conductor technology so there was some misalignment for KPN’s funds.

But there were outside investors, service providers and corporates in attendance including:

• EY

• Oracle

• Cottonwood Technology Fund

TIIN Capital

We talked with several teams, including CADChain, who described productive meetings with the investors in attendance. But not surprisingly, no one wanted to reveal the intimate details of their conversations.

Plus – and this needs to be said – KPN easily had the best food and drink of any of the evening events we’ve been to. (The Global Entrepreneurship Summit was off-the-chart good, but that was a government-funded deal.)

DO NOT miss a Startup Evening if KPN comes to your city.

About KPN Ventures:

KPN Ventures invests directly and indirectly in companies with innovative products and business models to create technological and economic synergies with KPN and its customers. KPN does this not only by providing capital, but through access to KPN’s extensive expertise in connectivity, security and related technologies, to its leading network infrastructure and to its large customer base. As an active business partner, KPN puts a strong emphasis on long-term, mutually profitable relationships.

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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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