Founding In Rotterdam – What It’s Like

Published on:

Founding is different in every city you go to. As an example we want to share the story of HousingAnywhere with you - a startup founded in Rotterdam.

Recently, many entrepreneurs discovered Rotterdam as a new place to found their businesses. This has not always been the case. Many entrepreneurs prefer to go to one of the big startup hubs like Amsterdam or Berlin where a good entrepreneurial infrastructure with many existing startups, accelerators, investors and frequent events for founders is in place. Rotterdam is not like Amsterdam or Berlin – yet. The startup community is still small compared to other big hubs, BUT, there is a lot of diversity and potential. The following story tells you something about a blooming Rotterdam startup – let’s see what they have to say  and what we can learn from them!

The Story of HousingAnywhere is one example of a typical Rotterdam startup that became very successful in the past years and is now operating worldwide. The startup started in 2009 as platform for short term accommodation offered mostly by students. When founder Niels van Deuren started his company, he was also still a student, who was about to go on an exchange semester to Singapore. As he would not need his room for 5 months, he was looking for someone who would rent his room for only this short time. None of his Dutch friends were interested, so he thought it would be a good idea to give his room to an incoming exchange student who would only stay for this short period. Since there was no existing website or anything, he came up with the idea of establishing an online platform, where people can sublet their rooms for short periods.

He convinced his University of the value of such a platform, so they gave him the first funds he needed in order to setup the website. Niels first office was still in his apartment and only after a year he hired his first employees. When I asked Niels what it is like to start a company in Rotterdam, he explained:

“The process of founding a company in the Netherlands is really easy. All I had to do was going to the chamber of commerce and register my company. I think it didn’t take me longer than half an hour, then I had an official paper which I could show to my University in order to make them my first official client.”

From this point the process went on. To the question if it would have been better or easier to start a company in a different city he said:

“Maybe! In bigger startup cities it’s probably easier to find people that are more committed to your projects as there are more people with the same interests, but that fact doesn’t make the people or the idea better. Rotterdam is a vibrant city, especially students and young graduates come to me to work with us, so there definitely are a lot of clever, potential people. Besides, everywhere, there is empty office space available for affordable prices, that made it easy for us – you don’t have that in every city.”

By now, HousingAnywhere moved into the Startup Villa, an old house which was transformed into a spacious shared office for startups. From a single man company they grew to around 30 employees, more than 200.000 users worldwide and 99 partner Universities that offer this online platform to their students. The plan is of course to further grow and expand to other countries.

As an outlook of how Rotterdam’s entrepreneurship scene will look like in the future, the founder mentioned:

“The existing startups community is already very helpful. Founders exchange their experiences and help each other. However, there is a growing trend. Entrepreneurship is more in the picture nowadays. Previously, news only reported about banking and consultancies, but now they also talk about startups. This is really good for us, because people become more and more aware of it and more startups get attracted. I am really curious what Rotterdam will be like in five years!”

This is just one example of many success stories that started in Rotterdam. Hopefully there are many more to come. The Netherlands are known for its open and innovative culture – a perfect surrounding for startups. If you are also curious how Rotterdam´s entrepreneurship scene will develop and want to find out more about founding in Rotterdam, our startup city guide might be another interesting read for you!



Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!