\The Netherlands' startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

\The Netherlands' startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

In the first half of 2021, €3.8bn in venture capital funding was raised by startups in The Netherlands, which has a thriving tech ecosystem.

So far this year, startups in The Netherlands have raised a record €3.8bn from VC funds, more than thee €1.7bn in all of 2020.

But which are the country's most exciting startups and scaleups? Which are the ones to watch in 2021?

Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of more than 100 exciting companies we think you need to know about, with an added 'Sifted take' to provide an extra layer of insight on the most interesting.

It's a mixture of the big and the small, the well known and the under the radar. But all are making waves. Keep reading below and stay informed about Europe’s new economy!

(P.S The data is from European Startups with valuation estimates from Dealroom. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).

Key

Year founded

Amount raised

Last funding round

Valuation

Employees

Picnic's logo

Picnic

Online supermarket, that delivers groceries for the lowest price to people’s home, without delivery costs

food / logistics

picnic.nl

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2015

€300m

DEBT

€800m

1000-5000

Sifted Take

The supermarket app, which doesn't charge customers for 100% electric delivery, is close to household-name status in the Netherlands. Indeed, it was largely responsible for Amsterdam's record funding year in 2019 when it raised €250m in a round led by the Dutch bank ABN AMRO and NPM Capital.

In November 2020, Dutch supermarket chain Edeka announced its intention to double its stake in Picnic to get a better grip on its international strategy.

MessageBird's logo

MessageBird

Connects enterprises to global customers through SMS, Voice and Chat APIs

enterprise software / telecom

messagebird.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2011

€1,000m

SERIES C

€2.7bn

100-500

Sifted Take

Cloud communications company MessageBird wasn't always heading down the venture capital route: it was bootstrapped for six years, although now has some of the biggest names in VC, including Accel, Atomico and Y Combinator, on its cap table.

Read more: MessageBird raises $200m at unicorn valuation for fresh acquisition spree

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Catawiki's logo

Catawiki

Online curated marketplace

ecommerce /

catawiki.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2008

€235m

GROWTH EQUITY

€300-450m

500-1000

Sifted Take

Catawiki has digitised the auction system. FIlled with collectibles, art, jewellery and classic cars, its platform "for special objects" features 65k new items per week — with 10m users. In December 2020, it raised €150m in a round led by Permira and including former backer Accel.

BitFury Group's logo

BitFury Group

Bitcoin Blockchain infrastructure provider and transaction processing company

fintech / cryptocurrency

bitfury.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2011

€182m

SERIES C

€909m

100-500

Sifted Take

BitFury is involved in enough mining projects to class it as an established cog in the global cryptocurrency market. It makes processors and devices used for mining cryptocurrencies, and runs data centres in Canada, Norway and Iceland, among other countries. It launched an AI division in 2019 to assist its hardware and software technologies.

Mollie's logo

Mollie

Payment methods in your website and app

fintech / payments

mollie.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2004

€849m

SERIES C

€909m

100-500

Sifted Take

Though it’s not the only payments unicorn on this list, Amsterdam's Mollie is focusing on small and medium-sized business customers.

It's also hoping to win customers from the likes of Stripe by being better tailored to the needs of European businesses, with local language customer service and payment methods.

In March 2021, it announced a new hire in Shane Happach, who joins as CEO after more than a decade at Worldpay. Happach told Sifted he has been in discussions to join Mollie since the summer of last year – roughly the same time that the company secured a €90m Series B investment.

Gaston Aussems, who had served as Mollie’s CEO since 2013, surprised observers last year by leaving the company shortly before the announcement of its Series B raise – which had conferred a ‘unicorn’ valuation on the firm.

Mollie has expanded into the UK market in recent weeks. In a crowded and heavily capitalised merchant payments market, Happach thinks his new employer’s European roots to be a key differentiator. He said that while the likes of Stripe and PayPal are trying to “cover the whole world”, Mollie is focused on hyper-localisation.

Lumos's logo

Lumos

Clean, affordable solar power to a market of 1.3 billion potential customers who live off the electricity grid

energy / clean energy

lumos-global.com

Amstelveen, Netherlands

2013

€105m

GRANT

€255-364m

100-500

Sifted Take

Based in Amstelveen but deploying decentralised solar power in Nigeria, where more than 160m people have little or no access to electricity, Lumos received $35m from the US International Development Finance Corporation in September 2020.

Tiqets's logo

Tiqets

Provides travel agencies, airlines and hotels with a platform to sell tickets

travel / travel analytics & software

tiqets.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2013

€96m

SERIES C

€218-327m

100-500

Mosa Meat's logo

Mosa Meat

The world’s first tissue cultured hamburger

food / innovative food

mosameat.com

Maastricht, Netherlands

2016

€92m

SERIES B

€273-409m

50-100

Sifted Take

Lab-grown meats all started with Mosa Meat, which unveiled the first ever lab-grown burger in 2012. Since, they’ve brought production costs down from a whopping €250k per burger to €9 — and this is the year they’ve been waiting for. Back in 2019, they revealed that their plans were to have affordable beef products on the market by 2021.

But now they’ve got competition — including in fellow Dutch startup Meatable, and UK-based Higher Steaks. Read all about it: What’s cooking in Europe’s lab-grown meat startups?

VanMoof's logo

VanMoof

Smart & electric city bikes

transportation / mobility

vanmoof.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2009

€58m

SERIES B

€145-218m

100-500

Sifted Take

The VanMoof bike is a thing of beauty. To see one is to want one. The only drawback, as far as the Sifted team are concerned, is that they cost around €3,000 at least.

Still, biking enthusiasts are seemingly willing to pay for quality and a range of gadgets that come with it.

The bike makes a range of sounds to communicate with you, from powering up to a growl if you try to move it when it’s locked. You can control power, check its charge and even the bike’s location all from your phone. It's also hard to steal, with stealth locking features and inbuilt GPS.

Two bike frames are offered – the S and the X – and these can be bought as regular bikes or as ebikes.

VanMoof (pronounced VanMoaf) is the brainchild of two Dutch brothers, Taco and Ties Carlier. The pair founded the company in 2009. Both came from outside the bike industry, which has helped them (they say) come to the world of bike design with fresh eyes. They see Tesla and BMW as competitors, not other bikes.

The 10-year-old company had had success with raising money from crowdfunding. One campaign in 2017 raised €2m in a week. In April 2019, the company raised €2.5m in just 12 hours.

At the same time, VanMoof announced it had sold 11,000 of its electric S2 and X2 city bikes. The company added that the sales –worth nearly €30m – were generated through its website and its eight standalone stores.

The broader trend is that ebike sales are booming. One million e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 36%. And in The Netherlands, e-bike sales have overtaken non-electric bike sales.

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WeTransfer's logo

WeTransfer

Cloud-based file transfer service based in Amsterdam designed to send small to large files

enterprise software /

wetransfer.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2009

€58m

SERIES B

€140-210m

100-500

Sifted Take

When WeTransfer launched in 2009 the Dutch startup did something seemingly impossible — it made file sharing cool.

The team created a striking aesthetic for its site, in part by giving away advertisement space to artists, and allowed users to send files for free without any irritating registration.

The result was that, even if the service was technically no better than rivals such as Box or Dropbox, creatives flocked to the site, which has since seen rapid growth. Today, WeTransfer has more than 50m users sending 1.5bn files every month.

In 2019 the company announced a €35m secondary funding (meaning no new money was raised by WeTransfer but existing shareholders sold) in a round led by the European growth equity firm, HPE Growth. It would not release the valuation but said it was "significantly" higher than in 2015.

This is believable as the company is not only growing but has been profitable for six years. It makes money through a premium subscription service called WeTransfer Plus and selling advertising in the form of full-screen ads called wallpapers on Wetransfer.com.

It also has other services include content-sharing app Collect (claiming 4 million monthly users), sketching tool Paper (which has had 25 million downloads) and collaborative presentation tool Paste (which claims 40,000 active teams).

WeTransfer also makes a lot of its quasi-social mission. It says it allocates up to 30% of its advertising inventory and “billions of impressions” to support and spotlight up-and-coming creatives, and causes, such as spearheading campaigns for social issues.

At a recent event hosted with Sifted and Second Home in London, Damian Bradfield, cofounder and chief creative officer of WeTransfer, said that the decision to show one big and good-looking advert rather than many banner ads went against the grain back in 2009, but has been key to the company’s success.

“This is central to our image,” said Bradfield.

Dott's logo

Dott

Amsterdam-founded escooter startup

transportation / mobility

ridedott.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2018

€127m

SERIES B

€120-180m

100-500

Sifted Take

Although it’s falling just behind escooter startups Tier and Voi in the UK, Dott procured the coveted Paris licence last year. In these times, it's still all to play for.

Read more: Uber-backed Lime and Europe’s Dott and Tier win coveted Paris scooter licence

bunq's logo

bunq

Reinventing money itself with mobile technology

fintech / banking

bunq.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2013

€238m

SERIES A

€40-60m

100-500

Sifted Take

It calls itself the "bank for The Free", and indeed, this is no ordinary neobank. It branched into 30 European countries without a penny of VC funds and asks its users where to invest its funds. Last year, it became one of the first digital banks to start lending for retail mortgages in Holland.

EclecticIQ's logo

EclecticIQ

Intelligence powered defense

security;enterprise software / cloud & infrastructure

eclecticiq.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2014

€41m

SERIES C

€80-120m

100-500

Sifted Take

The cyber insurance market is expected to grow by 33% annually over the next five years, and EclecticIQ is certainly one to watch.In December 2020, it raised €20m in a Series C round led by Ace Management, bringing its total to €47m — and making it one of the most funded cybersecurity scaleups in Europe. With the funds, it hopes to expand beyond the Europe and US into every other continent.

bloomon's logo

bloomon

Flexible online subscription to fresh flowers

home living /

bloomon.nl

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2014

€33m

EARLY VC

€30-45m

100-500

Sifted Take

Bloomon's been described as the "Netflix of flowers", and it's no secret that the Dutch are pretty serious about flowers. In 2017, the startup had a booming funding round that brought in €21m. After a bumper year for online everything, we should expect another spurt of growth for the startup.

Otrium's logo

Otrium

The managed marketplace unlocking the full potential of off-price fashion

fashion /

otrium.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2015

€142m

SERIES C

€96-144m

100-500

Sifted Take

The online fashion marketplace is making a real name for itself in tackling fast fashion’s huge clothing waste problem. It helps clothing brands sell end-of-season collections otherwise unsold, which account for around 10% of seasonal production on average. So far, it’s won over 200 brands, from Reiss to Pepe Jeans — and 1m registered customers.

In May 2020, it raised €24m in a round led by Eight Roads Ventures — which it will use to fuel its international expansion, including a launch in the UK last year.

Read our coverage below:

Otrium raises €24m to expand its fashion marketplace

Welcome to the decade of purpose, says new Index Ventures partner

Otrium takes on fashion’s excess stock problem

Europe’s top tech innovators

The Ocean Cleanup's logo

The Ocean Cleanup

Develops technologies that prevent oceanic plastic pollution

Delft, Netherlands

2013

€32m

EARLY VC

€115-172m

100-500

five°degrees's logo

five°degrees

Leading bank software provider

enterprise software / fintech

fivedegrees.nl

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2009

€32m

LATE VC

€88-132m

50-100

Sifted Take

After raising €22m in capital in its December 2020 round, led by Velocity Capital, the banking platform is said to be in discussion with several launch customers. It currently serves over 20 banks, from ABN Amro to TD Bank.

Framer's logo

Framer

Screen design and interactive prototyping tool

enterprise software /

framer.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2013

€30m

SERIES B

€87-131m

100-500

Sifted Take

Founded by ex-Facebook employees in 2014, Framer allows teams to prototype the entire digital product line — and it's being used by Twitter, Dropbox, Snap and of course, Facebook. Founders Koen Bok and Jorn van Dijk also cofounded Sofa, which they sold to Facebook.

BUX's logo

BUX

Stock trading app

fintech / investing;financial management solutions

getbux.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2014

€100m

LATE VC

€76m

100-500

Sifted Take

BUX is the largest neobroker in all of Europe — a milestone it reached in July 2020 when it reached 300k users after launching the app in Belgium and France.

It has two core products: BUX Zero for stocks and ETFs, and BUX Crypto for cryptocurrency trading. In 2020, its user base grew to 350k. It’s certainly benefited from the recent crypto boom, with a 50% increase in new users since December 1 2020, and a 500% increase in average daily trades during the same period. BUX Zero is available in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France and Belgium and BUX Crypto is available in another four European countries.

Its latest funding round was in 2019, when it raised €11.4m from firms including Velocity and Koltzbrinck Ventures. In total, it’s raised €35m at a valuation of €76m post money.

Roamler's logo

Roamler

Improving business efficiency and sustainability through Mobile Crowdsourcing

enterprise software /

roamler.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2011

€26m

SERIES B

€80-120m

100-500

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