Peaks is taking part in the Rise programme for fast-growing Dutch tech companies. The programme is organised by Techleap, a public-private partnership that promotes the Dutch tech sector at home and abroad. Constantijn van Oranje serves as a special envoy to Techleap. We recently had the opportunity to speak with him about his role and vision for the organisation, as well as his New Year’s resolutions for 2023.
Thank you very much for making time for us. Could you start by explaining what Techleap is all about?
“Sure. Techleap is an organisation that strengthens the Dutch tech sector. Its aim is to keep the Dutch economy innovative and competitive and to respond to major shifts in our society, whether it’s energy, food, water, mobility or health. We collect data and identify barriers that are blocking innovation or standing in the way of tech companies and investors. And we organise programmes for tech scale-ups and connect them with each other and with successful entrepreneurs.
That’s why we’ve set up the Pole Position and Rise programmes. The first programme is specifically aimed at start-ups working in deep tech.” (Editor’s note: ‘deep tech’ refers to technologies that you don’t usually see as an end user, but that make a big difference in the background, like artificial intelligence, robotics and biotech.)
“The Rise programme is designed precisely for upcoming tech companies that offer products and services to a broader audience. To participate in Rise, your company first has to achieve certain successes as a start-up and have the potential to grow into a strong, standalone company.
In addition to these two programmes, we also organise BOLD, a community that is of and for tech entrepreneurs, which enables them to exchange knowledge, experiences and networks and boost the Dutch start-up and tech sector. Techleap is 100% funded by the Dutch government, but operates independently.”
Thank you for explaining this. Can you tell us about your role within Techleap?
“As a special envoy to Techleap, my role is to help set and maintain our strategic direction. Maintaining that direction is a challenge in particular, because we have so many things to do! We must not lose sight of our most important mission, which is to support Dutch tech entrepreneurs in their growth from scale-ups to major tech firms. I also open doors, make contacts and tell the story of Techleap.”
Peaks is part of Techleap's Rise programme. Can you explain why Peaks was selected?
“First of all, Peaks meets the ‘hard’ requirements to be selected: you are a fintech company and have achieved good results in terms of growth, revenue and raising investment capital.
At Techleap, we also prioritise companies that act in the best interests of society. Peaks makes investing accessible to a broader public and helps customers become more financially resilient in an approachable way. And now that we are experiencing tough economic times, we really see how important that is. Even in a wealthy country like ours, too many families are reaching their financial limits. Peaks can help people increase their financial resilience by building their wealth little by little every day. That’s what makes Peaks a good match for Techleap’s Rise programme.”
Which Techleap achievements are you proud of?
“In general, we’ve helped make the Dutch tech sector stronger. We’ve built a healthy community and shone a light on how important tech is to our economy.
But just to give one specific example: shortly after we started, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. That turned our plans upside down, and we had to quickly invent a model that worked within the constraints of the pandemic. We set up a community to support participants, and made bridging loans accessible. In the end, all our participants survived the pandemic, even companies in hard-hit fields like the events industry. We couldn’t have done that without Techleap.”
What do you want to achieve with Techleap this year?
"Right now, our main challenge is to stay in existence. Techleap is actually supposed to end in June, but we’re trying to persuade the government that a second round is important and valuable. We have a clear vision, and we’re very eager to continue building the Netherlands as a tech powerhouse.
At the same time, we’re strengthening the BOLD community so that it can continue on its own, even if government support does end. If that happens, I also feel a great responsibility towards my team. I feel it is important that they can continue their careers even without Techleap.”
Although 2023 is already a few weeks old, we’re still curious: do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
“As mentioned, I want to give Techleap a second round. Either that or break down the organisation in a good way. I’ve also resolved to lose a few kilos. Not necessarily by exercising more, but by going to bed earlier. Eat less, sleep more. The latter especially doesn’t always work out, because I’ll be sending emails until late in the evening anyway. But hopefully that will go better this year!”