Third ABN AMRO workshop took place at out SBC Amsterdam office on May 18th. The theme of the meeting was financing growth and innovations.
Investing in startups
During the introduction Menno van Leeuwen gave a sneak preview of a new ABN AMRO case study which illustrates that because of bad economy, growth is essentially bound to come from innovative initiatives. Luckily, this means that start-ups are ideally placed since ABN AMRO believes that there is a lot to gain if large (tech, telco and media) companies work together with innovative startups.
Talk to your bank
Next, Hans Klomp of the ABN AMRO Growth & Innovation Desk discussed various scenarios for risk capital (early stage, high growth, high funds needed) and credit financing (low risk, later stage). He also shared some lessons learned as a banker: your customers and suppliers are important financiers but guarantee loans (Innovatief Borgstellingskrediet MKB) are sometimes applicable, too. Neither of those financing sources ask you to give away your shares so it can be a good idea to get into discussion with your bank for advice (at any stage of your growth).
Learning from WeTranfer
Another guest at the workshop was Stefan Verkerk – Chief Venture Officer at WeTransfer – presenting the case of a growing and innovative company. Stefan shared his experiences in growth and finance and gave an inspiring presentation on the drivers for WeTransfer’s success. Lessons learnt: “Always focus on the why of your product or service”. In the case of WeTransfer it is celebration of simplicity. You should also always keep in mind that it is the consumer who is in control. From the finance point of view you should always take into account that while the first customers will give you growth, you should not mistake this for revenue because the first growth will start with costs. It is also important to make your back-end lean and flexible.
Stefan also encouraged the teams to:
• make scenarios in forecasting;
• share updates with the stakeholders (bankers too);
• be stuburn;
• be persistent;
• …but at the same time not to be afraid to rethink decisions or strategies.
The session was concluded on a light-hearted note: “Don’t get stuck in your own head!”, Stefan advised.