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Kees Koolen, founder of Booking.com and investor in Uber, launched a new European venture capitalist fund: EQT Ventures is a fund with €566 million under management. Founding partners of Koolen are Swedish entrepeneurs Hjalmar Winbladh and Lars Jörnow. According to Koolen, who announced the new fund on the main stage of The Next Web Conference, EQT Ventures is ‘the VC fund he wished he had himself’.
VC for Europe
The venture is available for European startups and is created in the image of VC funds from the United States. Koolen, already an adviser on EQT Partners, said he was tired of seeing money flowing to the US: “Europe has a much bigger economy. We’re around 25 percent of the world economy. I think we’re also more innovative. Yet even European VC’s choose the US to invest. There’s 5 times more VC-money going around in the States.” Instead of complaining, he gathered a team to set up his own fund.
Koolen started the fund with two founding partners. Hjalmar Winbladh is the Swedish co-founder of startups like Wrapp and Rebtel. But they also wanted a younger person in the team to better connect with the current generation of startups. They found their third partner in Lars Jörnow. he is also involved in Rebtel, but is mostly known as founder and CEO of King, which in turn is responsible for the wildly popular Facebook-game Candy Crush.
EQT Ventures is based in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Luxembourg and Londen. It is a multi-stage fund, meaning they invest in startups in different stages of growth. Investments vary from €1 million to €75 million. The VC’s employs AI to look for new investments. They so called ‘motherbrain’ scans trends and developments in the European startup-scene.
Netherlands is ‘global by default’
While on stage, Koolen took time to explain why Europe and The Netherlands are attractive for startups who are keen to look to the United States to build their business. “It is very easy to expand to different countries.If you can make it in Europe, you can make it anywhere. And The Netherlands is in the middle of it all, making it global by default.” The co-founder of Booking.com and investor in Uber was pretty clear about the challenge of the different rules and laws in the different European countries. “If you are disruptive, then you’re ding something new. And if it is new, there’s probably no laws for that yet. If you let that stop you, a startup probably isn’t something for you.