Meet the 2014 Cohort | 10 green impact ventures

Ten green impact ventures are selected to be part of the 2014 cohort of the Investment Ready Program. The entrepreneurs work on issues that range from CO2 extraction and supply, seaweed cultivation for a sustainable aquaculture, floating houses for Asia, to sustainable motorbikes for Africa.

The coming four months they will be supported by the program to build an investment plan, attract investment and realise their growth ambitions.  The 10 entrepreneurs take a seat on the “investment panel” where they will assess their peer’s ventures and collectively award the top performer an equity investment of €50.000. The program will be rounded up with a Demo Day where the ventures will present themselves to various investors and funds.

Partners, mentors and expertise
Next to support from experienced mentors, the entrepreneurs can use the support of program partners as De Brauw for legal advice, The Boston Consulting Group for strategic development and market analysis and Rabobank for financial questions.  With pitch coach David Beckett and the prezentation expertise of Mr. Prezident the entrepreneurs will prepare themselves for the Demo Day on February 20th 2015. Investment clubs such as Toniic, De Investeerdersclub, Money Meets Ideas en Pymwymic will be present, as well as several funds and informal investors.

The 2014 cohort
The group consists of both experienced as well as young entrepreneurs seeking for capital for their technology, product or solution with a proof of concept. Their ultimate goal is to contribute to a transision towards a more sustainable and circular economy.

  1. Alucha develops and commercialises recycling solutions for complex waste streams using an industrially proven pyrolysis technology.
  2. Closing the Loop developed a unique, circular way to extend the life cycle of mobile phones.
  3. FasoBiogaz makes electricity out of waste in Africa, with organic fertiliser and industrial heat as by-product.
  4. Flexbase designs and builds floating structures in areas where water forms a threat.
  5. Giaura uses space technology for CO2 supply, extraction & purification applications ranging from ACs to aquariums.
  6. Hortimare provides seaweed starting material, cultivation systems and services for a sustainable aquaculture sector.
  7. Koneksie has created a sustainable mobility concept for the African motorcycle taxi industry, including a newly developed motorcycle.
  8. MUD Jeans offers an on trend wardrobe without owning clothes, with a new concept called Lease A Jeans.
  9. Windchallenge developed a light, reliable, safe and quiet wind turbine for off- and on-grid generation of renewable energy.
  10. Zzzoof provides sustainable local logistics and keeps your city clean for free.

Meet & greet 31 October
Are you interested in the stories of these ventures? Join us for a drink with our team, the entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and partners of the program on October 31st at 17.00 (please RSVP here).

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40 high quality applications: May the selection begin.

After a summer of drinking many cups of coffee with many exciting green impact entrepreneurs, we are truly content with the 40 high quality applications we received for the 2014 Investment Ready Program. Building up to the selection event on the 13th of October, our selection committee will be working on the pre-selection and very busy processing all the applications.

Here’s what will happen next this month:

  • October 13th – Selection event : pre-selected applicants will meet the selection committee.
  • October 20th – Press release : announcement of the 2014 cohort
  • October 31st – Drinks: meet our amazing cohort of green impact ventures

You are invited on October 31st: Join us for a drink with our team, the entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and partners of the program.

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Find an investor who suits the mind-set of the company

(Photo by: Tax Credits / CC BY)

As we are building this year’s program, we are looking back at some of last year’s great speakers. One of them is Stanley Anyetei, founder of Social-to-Business Strategist. As an investment strategist for social investors he shared his expertise and lessons learned – “Traditional investments will always exists, just show them ways to innovate”, Stanley Anyetei.

Stanley AnyeteiYour personal bank account, outside investors, financial institutions, philanthropists, suppliers and customers are all persons or institutions from which you can gain liquidity. Liquidity to, for instance, grow your company. But how does this work and what to take into account? Stanley Anyetei has a lot of experience in the financial industry makes us aware about the choice we have while searching for an investment. Friday afternoon he kicks off.

Starting with the basics: What types of investment are there?
A lot of entrepreneurs start with personal equity, so called ‘sweat equity’. If this personal equity is no longer an option, there are other ways to finance your business. You can go for a debt or get money in trade of your shares. So called equity. Of the other hand, customer or supplier finance or grants (be aware, grants are never ‘fee money’) could be reasonable options when you are looking for investment. Whatever option you may choose, most important is that you think about the different options. Make sure you know what the several options are about and what the pros and cons of these option are. So, make sure you consider the repayment structure, you know what the claim on assets of your company will be and make the type of returns the investor wants when he is investing specific. Stanley tells us: “Take your time and think about the type of investment. Which type fits the stage you’re in with your company?”.

What’s next? Make impact measurable
Besides choosing the right type of investment in a certain stage, finding the right investor is key. Especially when you seek investment in your social enterprise. You and the investor has to be in it for the same reasons, for the same purpose. Your purpose. Make sure you have a conversation about this with potential investors. Besides that, talk about the risks of the business and build the terms and rules of the investment. Social enterprises are trying to make a difference (impact) which is not to measure with traditional accounting. This is why the investor has to commit his/herself to the goals of the social enterprise. Stanley: “Where traditional investment is about accounting and revenue, this type of investment is about making a difference. Make this difference measurable in numbers with your investor”. Stanley sees a big opportunity in these social enterprises focussing on making a difference instead of making revenue. “If you are making a difference and see the people on the bottom of the pyramid as your customers, there is a huge market, so people will invest in it.”

Last but not least; tips and tricks when searching for social investment
Stanley keeps us sharp at the end of our Friday session. He summarizes: Investors are seeking for really dedicated entrepreneurs, scalable business model and a real solution with impact. Besides that:
– Be very specific about value and define numbers with your investor
– Choose the type of financing fitting your company’s state
– Finding the right investor takes time but pays off
– Do your homework before you go to your investor
– Be optimistic, but don’t be silly!

by Karolien van der Ouderaa, Village Capital 2013

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Join our Warm-up events in Rotterdam, Wageningen, Delft or Amsterdam

Our Warm-up events are for impact entrepreneurs to answer the questions: am I investment ready? Can I participate in the Investment Ready program?

This two hour session consist of:

  1. A grill session with one of our selected investors, that will provide feedback and insights into your business and investment strategy.
  2. An info and Q&A session about the Investment Ready Program.

During the drinks there is plenty of opportunity to meet and network with the Investment Ready organisers and other impact entrepreneurs.

When and where?

  • September 8th, 16.00-18.00 + drinks: RDM Makerspace in Rotterdam >> register here
  • September 9th, 16:00-18:00 + drinks: StartLife in Wageningen >> register here
  • September 10th, 15:00 – 17:00 + drinks: Yes!Delft incubator in Delft >> register here
  • September 16th, 16.00-18.00 + drinks: Impact Hub Amsterdam >> register here

Warmups will be organised across the country but can also be organised on your location on demand. For info contact Frederic Marcillaud: 

Looking forward to meeting you at a Warm-Up

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Look at your venture through the eyes of an investor – Marten Susebeek

Six months after joining the Investment Ready Program, Marten Susebeek gives us an update on where he’s at with Susteq. Susteq develops prepaid water services for rural and urban communities. People pay a small amount for their water access, so that water-points can be maintained in a sustainable way.

We meet with Marten at Impact Hub Amsterdam shortly after the Investment Ready Program 2014 kick-off, where he was present to share his experience with entrepreneurs interesteded to participate this year.

Marten tells us how the collaborative atmosphere between entrepreneurs in the program worked well for him. “As an entrepreneur you feel lonely sometimes. The program’s design made all entrepreneurs work together, you got completely immersed in the process. There was a spirit of collaboration and healthy criticism.”

marten susebeek susteqMarten Susebeek, Susteq: “The program made me look at my venture through the eyes of an investor. It prepared me immensely for the conversations and negotiations with investors”, a phase he is in the middle of right now.

Investment update:

“We are currently in a dealmaking stage with one investor. We are looking for 350.000 Euro investment but the final amount is yet to be decided.”

The Investment Ready Program is growing their network of impact investors with a sustainability profile each year. Even so, Marten found his investor through one of their customers. “Though the VilCap program we met two new potential customers”, he adds.

Enterprise update:

“We expect to double our turnover this year.” Susteq expects a turnover of 150.000 Euro for 2014, which would mean a doubling of the 2013 turnover.

Next to that Susteq made a big step forward with their team. At the time of joining the Investment Ready Program, Marten was working with three freelancers. During the program they joined the Susteq team and the four of them will soon be working as part of Susteq BV. “This was one of the realisations during the program – the value of having a team.”


Follow this blog if you are interested in the learning process of the entrepreneurs and the progress they make during and after the Investment Ready Program.

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Introducing our program scouts

For this program we are scouting the top 10-14 sustainable start-ups in the Netherlands that have the ambition to scale their ventures and their impact. We estimate there are only some 300 enterprises matching our criteria. So how are we going to find them?

Next to our recruitment lead Frederic Marcillaud, we have a strong and diverse team of three program scouts on board. We asked Maria Kharitonova, Patrick Malone and Chris Schuhman to give us some insight into their work and motivation to join this program.

Maria, what is your strategy, how will you find these green impact entrepreneurs?
We are a diverse team, so we use our collective experience and networks, and a lot of creativity. There’s Patrick, the Ethical Investor from the US; Chris who researched entrepreneurs ecosystem in the Netherlands;  Frederic who brings in a huge network to the table; and myself, bringing the experience with a similar program in India. Besides that we use channel partners such as Impact Funds, investors, crowdfunding platforms, prominent NGOs, universities, incubator and accelerator networks to enrich our applicants pipeline. We use digital media focused on entrepreneurship and innovation to discover new names and we are planning to organise a number of events in various locations throughout The Netherlands together with our partners to inform entrepreneurs. And last but not least, it is great to be able to work with recommendations from last year’s participants as ambassadors.

Chris, what is the unique selling point of the program? 
What I learnt from researching this sector is that attracting finance for the type of companies we target is difficult. Banks and investors are less willing to jump into these companies because the new business models are less proven then traditional, and the expected returns might be lower. So one of the unique selling points of this program for me is the focus on supporting impact entrepreneurs with attracting investment and to grow. This program will solve a lot of the issues impact entrepreneurs face while executing their dreams.

Patrick, why exchange Santa Fe for Amsterdam for 3 months?
Patrick here.  American Ethical Investor.  Why on earth would I close down my life in sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico, and jump on a plane to rainy Amsterdam?!  Strengthen my calf muscles? Save money on dry skin lotion?  I believe changes like these keep us vibrant, young and happy. I hear there are hidden gifts in disorientation.  I also really value getting a European perspective on social and environmental business.  What am I missing out on being an American?  What opportunities and ways of thinking are in this culture?  You all in Europe have been doing this impact stuff in different ways(maybe under different names) for a while now.  So I’m diving in:  exploring the Circle Economy at De Ceuvel, meeting with passionate entrepreneurs solving global problems and biking more than ever.  I know what a great network and working space these global Hubs are and I want to work with a diverse team.  I’m already experiencing this work adventure as a great way to grow, adapt and get a different mirror of myself.  I even “feel like a local” having attended the Zwarte Cross for a day to see comedic political branding transportation sector innovation in the form of the Plofkipmobile!  So I worked out a deal to bring some summer sun with me. What is your next change about?

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What are the best green ventures out there?

Since the Investment Ready Program 2014 Kick-Off our recruitment team is working day and night to find the top green ventures in the Netherlands that can benefit from this program. We’ve had our first cups of coffee with potential participants and are planning meet-ups in various cities to reach entrepreneurs beyond ‘de randstad’.

We appreciate your ambassadorship
It would be amazing if you could bring us in touch with the entrepreneurs we seek. How can you do that?

  1. Are you interested in the program yourself? Please leave your contacts here and we’ll call you.
  2. Do you know entrepreneur(s) that might be interested? Feel free to forward this email to them.
  3. Can you recommend entrepreneur(s) we should get in touch with? Please send their contact details to and we will get in touch.
  4. Feel free to write about us in your newsletter (like Sprout did), follow and mention us on Twitter, or post about us on your blog. Mail for communications materials such as pictures, logo, etc.

Which entrepreneurs do we seek exactly?
We are seeking green entrepreneurs creating scalable solutions to global challenges. Like Rural Spark (winner in 2013) and Elemetal. We make sustainable ventures ready for investment, growth and global impact. Our program is unique for its approach, because it is built around entrepreneurs supporting each other. It is a 4-month peer-learning program that consists of 12 workshop days leading up to an Demo Day, supported by mentors, speakers, content experts, associates and powerful business tools. The program value is estimated at €15.000. More program details you can find here.

You can apply for the program if you are a purpose-driven entrepreneur, working on tackling sustainability issues in:

  • Energy & Mobility
  • Supply Chains & Logistics
  • New materials & Waste
  • Agriculture, Water & Food

More info on application criteria and process can be found here:

Want to know what media have written about us? Check out the call for applications on Sprout or read one of the articles that published last year.


What participants say:
This program is a social-entrepreneur-peer-coaching-carrousel, which is truly unique and absolutely fabulous. We’ve gained insight particularly on the financing and marketing perspectives of the business, but perhaps the most important thing was the program forces you to ‘stop’ and spend dedicated time thinking about developing your business. Priceless.” – Machiel van Dooren, 2013 participant.


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The Investment Ready Program is live!

Last Thursday July 17th, we officially launched the Investment Ready Program at the Impact Hub Amsterdam. We had a full house. With an interested crowd of mostly entrepreneurs, as well as investors and partners, we explored what it takes to become investment ready.

investment ready program kickoff (around the table1)On stage we interviewed Aart van Veller – Vandebron – and Marcel Heist – Rural Spark about their investment journey? How did that go? And what did you learn? They both shared some great stories and key lessons learnt.

Aart told how he first pitched with his co-founders to an investor that they really wanted. Even though they knew everyone advises to practice a couple of pitches first, they did anyways because of the opportunity. And they got ‘fried’. Along the way the learnt to be more strategic and managed to get Vandebron funded, and launched a product that could potentially become “the Airbnb for renewable energy“.

Marcel told us how their first investment deal took  no less than 12 months of due diligence. Opposed to that they learnt investment ready program kickoff (zaal2)during the Investment Ready Program that you can actually be critical and selective about the investors you want to work with. “We joined the Investment Ready Program because we were newbees to the investment world; we learnt a lot, got great PR, and a valuable network“. Rural Spark (last year’s winner) almost rounded up their second investment round and last May started rolling out their pre-paid energy router in India; the way rural villagers become local energy suppliers.

Thomas Vaassen (program director) explained how the Investment Ready Program is different to other accelerators. “It is really about the entrepreneurs, not about the show”. What makes the program unique is the peer reviewing, which learns the entrepreneurs to look through the eyes of an investor. This way you really advance the core of your business during the program and get ready for investment.

Closing of the informative part, we quickly got to know everyone at our table by discussing “what can the Investment Ready Program mean for you?”. A conversation that was continued  during drinks.

Are you interested in participating? Please contact us and we get in touch with you personally.



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Village Capital NL continues as Investment Ready Program

Last year, we started as Village Capital NL. This year we are continuing under a new, local name, Investment Ready Program, but based on the same unique Village Capital peer-ranking model.

In 2013 we successfully organised the first Village Capital program in The Netherlands together with founding partners The DOEN Foundation, Outside Inc. and Village Capital (USA). The program of Village Capital is based on the idea of ​​peer selection, allowing entrepreneurs to learn from each other. Participants also assess each other to jointly decide which two entrepreneurs win a guaranteed investment of 50,000 euros.

In October 2013 we received 75 applications, invited 25 to our selection event and selected a cohort of 12 participants. During the program the entrepreneurs assisted each other as well as received guidance from leading entrepreneurs such as Alexander Ribbink (Prime Ventures , TomTom) and James Veenhoff (Fronteer Strategy , Amsterdam International Fashion Week). Participants’ projects focus on topics such as sustainable food chains, clean energy, ethical fashion, innovative forms of recycling and housing and better drinking water. Finally, all twelve participants presented to investors on 31 January 2014.

The 12 participants in the Village Capital program choose Studio JUX and Rural Spark as the winners, both got access to 50.000 euro investment.

The Investment Ready Program 2014 is offered by The DOEN FoundationHivos and Impact Hub Amsterdam and powered by Village Capital.  We look forward to it!

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