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Finding a follow-up investment for your startup is a hell of a job. Juriaan Karsten, now co-founder and COO of Parkeagle, can tell you all about it. In the end, he had to shut down his ‘baby’: the promising social app Grader, due to lack of financing. Out of frustration, he created nlfunding.co, a directory of all startup investors in the Netherlands. In this guest blog, Karsten explains why he created the website.
Almost two years ago I had to close my first startup; it sucked. Sounds depressing right? Well, it was.
Before we go into a story about failure, let me clarify what nlfunding.co is before we jump into some history on how the website got to be what it is today.
Complete online information VC in the Netherlands
nlfunding.co is an attempt at making a complete online information directory on every seed, early and later-stage VC in The Netherlands. The list includes information on the team, portfolio, exits, focus, investment size and much more. Think of it as a curated CrunchBase on steroids only for the Dutch VC landscape. At this moment in time, the entire list consists of more than 100 active VC funds in total. And the list keeps growing each week with the help of a thriving community.
Back to me shutting down my baby.
It was the worst thing that ever happened in my life.
Fun little social media app was done
I was entrepreneurial before but nothing like this. My company was my life, and now I had to shut it down. I had to inform my team and call my investors while I felt like falling through the ground. Our fun little social media app company was done.
So why did I have to shut down our startup and why was I forced to sell the IP? It was because we could not lock down a second seed round after an initial investment of 250k. I had a terrible time trying to find more funding for the company to stay afloat. Our user growth was decent, but we did not have a working business model in place.
Lack of proven business model
During our first funding round, this was not a topic of conversation. Facebook was planning an IPO, Instagram became huge, Google bought Youtube, social was the shit, and everyone wanted to build the new social media hype product. But during the second round of funding, this lack of proven business model made the company not so attractive for investors. And then we ran out of cash.
I felt like a failure, a nobody, a loser.
Doing something good for the community
But I did not want to end this part of my life without doing something awesome at the end of the journey. I wanted to finish it by doing something good for the Dutch startup community. I wanted to help and give back to the Dutch founder community.
So I thought hard about what lessons, tools or knowledge I could give back to the community. In the last seven months while running from investor to investor in hopes of a YES I had kept a meticulously detailed information sheet on the entire Dutch VC landscape. The Peak Capital Landscape was used as the initial template to collect all the data on every VC. And then it struck me. What if I published this data online for every aspiring entrepreneur and startup founder to use for free?
nlfunding.co was born
And this is how nlfunding.co was born. Mostly from me wanting to give back to the community after my failure and partly because of my frustrations of not being able to find follow-up funding to keep my company alive. I wish no founder goes through the mental punch in the face that I went through when I had to shut down our business. So I sincerely hope people will find some value in the information on nlfunding.co. I hope it will make the search for that investor a little bit easier than normal. I hope the information serves you in finding that right investor fit for you.
So why promote the website now?
At the beginning of last month, I was in Silicon Valley for business for a week. One of the biggest insight I got from the place was the following: Think big and share your knowledge with the people around you. When we all share what we know, we all become better at doing what we do, and we all benefit. The entire ecosystem benefits. So that is why I’m spreading the word about the initiative. Join me in spreading the word! nlfunding.co is just the first step in many. I think we Europeans should embrace sharing and being open towards each other. It is a must if we want to compete with the likes of Shenzhen and Silicon Valley. I have been to both places, and trust me; we need to do a lot better if we want to compete with those elephants!
Enough said. I hope you find some value in the website. Feedback is much appreciated. Connect with me on LinkedIn if you have any questions :).
* A small disclaimer, I do not earn any money from the website *