Susteq presents for 600 people at Unreasonable Institute in Boulder

Investment Ready alumnus Susteq got selected for a global program for entrepreneurs that tackle the world’s biggest social and environmental problems, Unreasonable Institute.  Watch his talk here: How Micropayments and Prepaid Meters Create Reliable Water Access in Kenya


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Applications are open!

Today we launched the 2015 edition of the Investment Ready Program at Impact Hub Amsterdam. With a crowd of interested entrepreneurs, partners and investors, we explored what it takes to become investment ready. Giving insight in to the content and value of the program along the way. And getting insight into what the program can mean for the people in the room.

We started by interviewing impact investor Edgard Creemers, CEO of InvestInFuture. InvestInFuture invests in innovative, sustainable entrepreneurs with a special focus on youth. What is key to him when he enters into conversation with an entrepreneur? “When I’m interested in a venture I want to know about their 1) product-market combination, 2) team, and 3) give/get for the entrepreneur and the investor.”  About the latter Edgard advises the entrepreneurs in the room:

“Be realistic in what you ask, but don’t give it all away at once, you need to be prepared for more investment rounds “.

As InvestInFuture, they are of the opinion that the entrepreneur needs to keep majority of shares in all situations. According to Edgard, guiding the entrepreneurs in their journey to seek investment is a unique aspect of the Investment Ready Program and valuable for both entrepreneurs and investors involved.
After getting the investor perspective, who better to ask about the progam than a former participant?  So we interviewed Joost de Kluijver, founder of Closing the Loop and 2014 participant, why he participated and how he is doing 4 months after the demo day. An important reasons for him was definitely to get loose from his day to day operations to work on the long term strategy of his venture. “As an entrepreneur you live in a ‘bubble’ and the program provided a soundboard for me in an important phase in which I had just changed from not-for-profit to a for profit company (BV).”

“The peer ranking mechanism results in painfully honest, but very constructive criticism and support from your peers.”

After the demo day in February, Joost got featured in a Tegenlicht episode about e-waste and urban mining, which helped him building the case for corporate clients such as Tele2, with which he recently closed a deal. Also, via Investment Ready, he got the opportunity to pitch at the PYMWIMIC Impact Days. “The Investment Ready Program thoroughly prepared me for the conversations with these investors.

So who are we looking for?

In the next three months we will be scouting for scalable ‘greentech’ ventures with a special interest in enterprises that tackle sustainability issues in emerging economies. Together with our partner Professional Rebel we will be traveling from Amsterdam to Eindhoven and from Arnhem to Delft to find the entrepreneurs that have the best fit with our program.

  • You are a purpose-driven entrepreneur, working on tackling sustainability issues. We have a special interest in enterprises that tackle sustainability issues in emerging economies
  • You have proof-of-concept (i.e., revenue generating, revenue testing)
  • You are seeking investment
  • Your venture is legally incorporated in The Netherlands
  • You are building a scalable product, technology or solution in one of the following fields
    • Energy & Mobility
    • Supply Chains & Logistics
    • New materials & Waste
    • Agriculture, Water & Food

Applications are open until 20 September. Start here.



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Prime Minister Rutte supports MoU Rural Spark

2013 alumnus & winner Rural Spark is scaling up! On June 5th they signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Vayam Renewable (Basix Group) in the presence of Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Dutch Embassy in India, for manufacturing and distributing 10.000 Rural Spark Energy Kits in India.

Scaling up
From the outset Rural Spark set themselves the ambitious task to build energy solutions that facilitate access to energy in regions that are deprived of this fundamental right. As agreed in the MoU with Vayam Renewables they will distribute 10,000 energy kits in the next two years, securing access to energy for more than 150,000 Indian families in rural villages.

Rural Spark goes Indiegogo
Working towards becoming one of the most successful campaigns ever on Indiegogo, Rural Spark will launch their crowdfunding project on Indiegogo on June 22nd and aim to raise up to €300,000. The funds raised will be used towards the sales and distribution of a large quantity of Rural Spark Energy Kits, that are built to bring greater prosperity to some of the most isolated communities in India.

You can support this goal by sharing their message.

Rural Spark MoU

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Koneksie starts Kibo Early Bird

Just after Demo Day last February, Koneksie (2014 alumnus) presented their brand “Kibo”. In April they successfully started an Early Bird program in Nairobi and collected over 120 sign ups.

“Be your own boss” and “Have a safe ride”, those are the slogans on the Kibo website. Kibo is more than a bike. It’s a total package for the motorcycle taxi drivers to become independent business owners. The development of the motorcycle is a different design process than the development of the services that are included in that total package. The main objective of the pilot is to learn how our end-users interact with the developed services.

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Closing the Loop in Tegenlicht

Great to see Joost de Kluijver from Closing the Loop (2014 alumnus) being featured in an episode of VPRO’s ‘Backlight’ (Tegenlicht), called ‘Dirty gold’ (Vuil goud). E-waste contains 60 times as much gold as a ton of gold ore. Moreover, the gold in electronic waste is easier (and more humane and environmental friendly) to harvest. The episode also shows the Belgium company that Joost works with for the recycling of the mobile phones he collects in Africa. Truly interesting, we can recommend you to watch it!

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Demo Day

On February 20th, the 10 green impact ventures of the 2014/15 Investment Ready Program presented their growth plans and investment proposition at the Demo Day.

A summary of the last months

We reviewed 200 startups from 100 sources, received 50 applications, out of which we selected 10 ventures. Together, they have 42 years of entrepreneurial experience and received €11,8 million in funding to date.
The ventures received 1500 hours of program support over the course of 16 weeks, worth €150.000. They rated each other on 20 investment criteria, submitting a whopping 7,200 rated items, resulting in 1 highest score: MUD Jeans, who has won a €50.000 convertible loan. Together, the ventures are seeking €10,9 million in investment from impact investors.

Grand finale

The Demo Day was the grand finale of the program, providing the entrepreneurs a platform to pitch to an audience of 80 investors and partners. At the same time investors and partners got the opportunity to get into real conversation with the entrepreneurs during hosted breakout sessions. At the end of the day we raised our glasses to many new connections made. In the next months we will follow-up these connections and link the ventures to follow-up pitching opportunities. 

Do you want to get in touch with one of the ventures? Please contact Robert-Niels van Droffelaar, impact tracker & investor relations.


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MUD Jeans wins 2014/15 Investment Ready Program

MUD Jeans was chosen by their peers as the winner of the Investment Ready Program. The fashion label that introduces the circular economy in the fashion industry has won an investment of EUR 50.000. With this amount MUD Jeans will further realise their growth ambitions and work on their positioning in the retail.

Winner chosen by participants

In the past four months the participating entrepreneurs have built their go to market strategy and investment plan, with help of mentors, experts and each other. The 10 entrepreneurs assessed their peer’s ventures and learnt to look through the lens of the investor. Today they collectively awarded MUD Jeans a convertible loan of €50.000. This loan can be converted to equity at the end of the investment round.

Demo Day 20 February

On the 20th of February the Demo Day takes place, where all participants will pitch their investment proposition to the network of informal investors, funds and intermediairs that has been built-up around the program.  As initiators, The DOEN Foundation, Hivos and Impact Hub Amsterdam strive to support all participants to raise the capital they need. As such, Rural Spark, winner of the 2013/14 edition, raised an investment of EUR 350.000 and is now working on a second investment round of EUR 1 million. The company sells products in India, with which people can produce their own sustainable energy. Recently Rural Spark launched the new prototype of their energy router. With the new investment round they can scale up in India.

Interested investors can still register for the Demo Day via

The next edition starts in June 2015

In June we will open the registration for the next edition of the Investment Ready Program.  In the fall, ten new participants will start. They can again count on the expertise of our mentors and partners.

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Module 2: Founders, Team & Financial modeling

In the second module we got into some serious financial modelling, we deepened our pitch practice, and analysed the team roles needed to grow our companies.

How does an investor look at your financials?

“It’s a ‘sanity check’ “, says Helmer Schukken, who kicked off our financial modelling work session. He shows us how he looks at financial figures as an investor at Social Impact Ventures, and he makes this concrete by analysing the financial models of 2 of the 10 ventures in front of the group. We continued with peer-due diligence exercise to get insight into each other’s financial assumptions. A valuable exercise, because looking at another ventures financials makes you realise how they look at yours!


The reasons behind ‘best pitch practices’

Pitching is practising, and we did during the workshop with David Beckett (pitch coach at TEDx Amsterdam among others). But we also got to understand the reasons behind his advice. So why apply the ‘Rule of 3‘, and why learn the first 60 seconds of your pitch. In short, many of it has to do with understanding how the listener processes information, as well as what actually happens with you (your body, your brain) when you pitch. We can’t go into detail here, but we highly recommend you to join his workshops. Oh well, one tip: never start a pitch with a “thank you for inviting me, bla bla…”, get straight to the point “I am David Beckett and I am a pitch coach”.


What does your team need in order to grow?

The team is an important item for investors. Not only do they look at your skills and experience, but more importantly they want to know whether you have been able to tackle some serious challenges together and make things work in tough times. The team you have as a startup might not be the right team for your next growth step. In a workshop with Scafander we gained insight in our own roles and into what is lacking to make the next growth step.


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Innovating in traditional industries and creating new markets – insights from a CEO

On the first day of the program we had an in-depth conversation with Reinier Mommaal, one of the founders and former CEO of DyeCoo Textile Systems. DyeCoo introduced a revolutionary waterless dyeing technology to the market. He provided the cohort with his valuable insights while talking about his journey from prototype to first production.

Build partnerships

Instead of using large amounts of water and chemicals to dye textile, DyeCoo uses a high pressure CO2 process. Now how do you get a traditional industry to use such a revolutionary technology? Reinier explained how important it is to build strong, strategic partnerships already in an early phase. When DyeCoo only had a small prototype of their revolutionary dyeing technology to show for, they started collaborating with a textile-factory in Thailand. They could test their full-size prototype until it was good enough to start first production.

Lesson #1: start building strategic partnerships in an early phase


Get the brands on board

Once their full-size prototype was working, they invited some large fashion & sport brands to come and have a look. It is important to get the brands behind you for market acceptance in a traditional industry.

Compared to the existing dyeing technologies, the investment costs of the waterless dyeing technology that DyeCoo introduced are higher. However, operational costs are lower, providing an advantage over the traditional technology in the longer run. Besides that you don’t need additional chemicals and large amounts of water for the dyeing process, nor do you need to treat the wastewater.

Lesson #2: market acceptance of a revolutionary technology won’t happen without getting important brands behind your technology


So why would a brand get behind such a technology? Well, consumers became more conscious. Also Greenpeace ran a campaign to make the textile industry cleaner called the “Zero Detox Challenge “. So there was pressure, and if you don’t go first, then your competitors might be the first. DyeCoo needed to be smart as a small player. So they initially started with two large brands strongly supporting & investing in their technology.


Complement your team with key skills and knowledge

In the phase where DyeCoo was negotiating with potential investors they could not afford to make mistakes, Reinier involved two advisors that could really help him with that. A person with extensive expertise in mergers & aquisitions in order to build solid agreements with partners and a lawyer with years of experience negotiating with investors . So select your advisors well, and keep it to one or two, not many.

Lesson #3: strategically select your advisors, and keep it to one or two, not too many


Also, in different stages you need different people. When DyeCoo got to the stage that they needed to optimize the technology, organisation and process, they attracted a new CEO that could really make those improvement steps with them.


Reinier’s story touched upon strategic issues that all of our 10 participants get to deal with in their enterprises. Of course everyone got the chance to ask him questions, and of course the conversation went into a lot more detail then we can cover in this blog. So thank you Reinier for sharing those details and leaving us inspired.

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Module 1: the pressure cooker effect

It took no more than the first 3 days of the Program for the 10 ventures to get to know each other and to define the key strategic issues to work on during the program. The result of the ‘pressure cooker effect’ we create together with our mentors, partners and the power of peer reviewing. Some highlights of the first module.

Innovating in traditional industries and creating new markets – insights from a CEO

On the first day we had an in-depth conversation with Reinier Mommaal, one of the founders and former CEO of DyeCoo Textile Systems. DyeCoo introduced a revolutionary waterless dyeing technology to the market. He provided us with valuable insights while talking about his journey from prototype to implementation. For example on how to build strong, strategic partnerships already during the (technology) development phase, so that when things really start to take off you can make big steps. And how you need to be smart as a small innovator between the big giants.

Pitch, practice, and pitch again

Already on day 2 the entrepreneurs pitched their ventures to an audience of 50 mentors, partners and investors. But not before they turned their presentations into the 3 minute pitch canvas format and a good round of practice first. The pitch session kicked off the afternoon session where the ventures worked on their 5-year strategic goals and 12-month milestones with support of their mentors and our program partners. We ended celebrating a day of hard work with drinks and some serious networking.

The power of peer reviewing

Day 3 was the day of the first trial rank. All 10 ventures had to rank their 9 peers based on 20 investment criteria. How to do that when you only know each other since 2 days? After a solid introduction of the criteria this exercise turned out to be very powerful. In the last module, this rank will define the winner of the program that will go home with €50.000 investment. So it is not just a cool app, it’s serious business. The group was pleasantly surprised by the collective intelligence that got revealed through the peer reviewing. It contributed to a very solid start of the program.



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