Even though marketplaces have been thriving for more than five years, we now see that the propositions are evolving and becoming more specific.
From starting the first non-profit student-run strategy consultancy in the Netherlands, London and Stockholm, De Klein Consultant, to being an associate at private equity firm HAL investments, to founding the “funda of the Philippines”, among others, Jacqueline van den Ende describes herself as a mix between an entrepreneur and investor. And she never shies away from a new challenge.
Today, she is already on to the next step of her career as the newest partner in Peak Capital, a Dutch venture capital (VC) firm focused on fast-growing marketplace, platform and SaaS companies. “I joined Peak as of August 1 and I’m looking forward to investing in opportunities, sharing my knowledge and strengthening the tech ecosystem in the Netherlands and around.”
And as a side note – yet a rather important one – her joining the firm brings the percentage of female partners in it to 50 percent. This is something that both Jacqueline and Peak Capital co-founder Johan van Mil are particularly happy about.
Johan, too, comes from a strong entrepreneurial background, with a number of successful companies behind him, and as of four years ago, he’s been devoting his full-time attention to managing Peak Capital and the needs of the startups and scaleups they invest in. Especially as a supporter of the #fundright initiative, the VC is committed to enabling equal opportunities and access to capital for female founders.
The VC is currently gearing up for their next round of investments with their newly launched fund of 66 million euros.
“This fund is five times bigger than what we now invest in and we see it as a big opportunity to invest in SaaS and marketplace companies not only in the Netherlands, but also in neighboring countries,” says Johan.
‘It’s about more than just capital’
Peak Capital describes itself as being made up of entrepreneurial investors. What that means is that “all managing partners have a mix of investing ability and actual entrepreneurial experience,” says Jacqueline. “It is very much the essence of the firm to provide capital just as much as know-how and coaching.”
It is what Johan calls smart capital. While money is surely part of the deal, there is a lot more that Peak Capital can give to the companies they invest in.
“We invest our time, effort and experience in those companies,” says Johan. “We help them with the topics that are on their minds, whether that’s hiring the right people, making the right marketing choices, expanding to the right countries, or exiting. We’re very active as an investor.”
In that, Peak Capital is rather unique among other VC firms. While most are investment-driven, Johan and his fellow colleagues make sure to add extra value to the teams and businesses in their portfolio.
The Netherlands: A maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem
Smart capital is, in fact, one of the key approaches to tech investments in an ever-expanding and maturing ecosystem.
“We have seen that the Dutch entrepreneurial landscape is becoming more solid and mature,” says Johan. “The quality of tech is growing, too. Historically, we Dutch people have always been good at selling, so it is good to see that we can now combine that with great technology.”
Both Johan and Jacqueline agree that there are several industries – or themes, if you will – that are currently of particular interest to investors. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of them, especially as it is becoming more and more accessible. It is turning into a mainstream technology and companies of all sizes, big and small alike, are leveraging it to create insights, improvements and new services.
The quality of tech is growing. Historically, we Dutch people have always been good at selling, so it is good to see that we can now combine that with great technology.
Marketplace technology, too, is undergoing important developments and is especially interesting for Peak Capital as one of their focus points. “Even though marketplaces have been thriving for more than five years, we now see that the propositions are evolving and becoming more specific,” says Jacqueline.
Other fields that have caught the eye of investors in recent time are also fintech and blockchain. “We saw a lot of blockchain solutions about a year or so ago but that has now calmed down,” says Johan. This decrease on the blockchain front has likely to do with the fact that there is still a lot more to learn about the technology itself and the way it can add commercial value.
For both Johan and Jacqueline, the potential and development of the Dutch entrepreneurial ecosystem is the reason for them to do what they do. “We are always looking for new opportunities to invest and are ready to help companies in the journey from startup to scaleup.” After all, as a VC firm, they have the drive, the people and the combined experience of some of the biggest entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.Author: Mina Nacheva