Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year, VC @CapitalT, Columnist
Janneke Niessen

" When you are an entrepreneur I think its super important to have a network of other entrepreneurs because they all know what you are going through and you are the best ones to help each other when things are difficult."

- Janneke Niessen

Expanding to new territories – Janneke Niessen


Janneke is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, board member and mentor for startups and co-founder of CapitalT, a VC fund that invests in technology companies using proprietary technology to evaluate entrepreneurial teams. In the past she has started and exited 2 international tech companies. She is co-initiator of InspiringFifty, an initiative that aims to increase diversity in tech by making female role models more visible. As part of the InspiringFifty initiative, Janneke has published The New Girl Code and Project Prep, a novel for young girls. The goal of the project is to encourage young girls, inspiring them to pursue a career in technology and invest in an educational foundation focusing on math and computer science. Janneke is member of supervisory board of UNICEF, boardmember of Codam, advisory board member of FutureNL, member of the investment committee of Innovation Quarter and the supervisory board of NPEX. Janneke was named 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Most Innovative Leader in 2016, and one the 10 most prominent angel investors in 2018 and Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Yearin 2019, a few of many in a long list of honours for Janneke.

Janneke did research with Eva de Mol on the investments in female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. This has led to a lot of media, discussion and questions in parliament. Legislation is prepared now to take action and change the situation. The industry itself has agreed to a quota for their own teams and the teams they invest in.

Fun fact: Janneke had her picture taken by Annie Leibovitz and has been appearing in a campaign for UBS that was shown in e.g. WSJ Magazine, The Economist, Wallpaper but also on billboards at London City Airport, NY JFK and the airport of Frankfurt.

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The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to the supporters fund ask an investor, I’m your host Jeffery Potvin and let’s please welcome Janneke Niessen from capitalT is our investment today welcome Janneke it’s a real pleasure to have you joining us today.

Niessen: Well thanks a lot for having me, I’m looking forward.

Jeffery: Oh me too, I’m so excited there’s so much amazing things that you’ve accomplished and all these great things so many videos about yourself from books and this great career in entrepreneurship it’s absolutely phenomenal and, I’m so excited to be able to chat with you today so the way we like to kind of kick things off is that we want to dive into a bit of your background so maybe you can start off by sharing a little bit back from your marketing days through all the entrepreneur endeavors that you’ve kind of taken on and maybe share one thing about you that nobody would know and, I guess also for the audience maybe share where you’re working out of today because, I think that’s also pretty exciting.

Niessen: Yes so, I’m currently in barcelona so how’s barcelona um, I’m speaking at the eu startup summit tomorrow morning so, I decided to well not have any stress and arrive today and work from here and the the view is absolutely stunning so, I hope, I can enjoy a bit of barcelona later today and yeah the beginning of my career and during my study, I was approached to start working at an online advertising firm and that was now sound very old but that was back when the internet was like really new and everything just started out um so curious as, I am, I said yes and, I joined and finished my studies um more in the evenings on the side and mainly focused on that that was super exciting but um after two years me and another colleague decided to start our own company um and that was for me fairly easy step um because, I was super naive, I had no clue about all the things that could go wrong which, I think is a good one but also since, I was really young, I always, I told people that one day, I would want to be an entrepreneur and so when the opportunity was there it was easy to jump and, I could borrow some money from my parents and, I know that that’s a privilege that not everybody has but um that got me um started and then um, I had the first company first dot com bubble we even then had clients that um verbally agreed to an agreement and then the next day he said yeah we’re not going to do this because our board doesn’t believe in the internet it were those days that there were still people that did not believe in the internet um but well the bubble bursted and, I think every company so far i’ve started in a downturn and, I think those are the best moments because the only way is up you don’t need to scale down so there’s a lot of advantages there and after a few years we started growing internationally, I had offices in south africa brazil europe lots of fun and then at a certain point, I sold my shares in the company then, I did nothing for a few months as in, I was thinking what, I would want to do next and then, I met my co-founder that, I started my second company with we started out as a consultancy firm but then decided that that was not scalable enough and so we started building tech grew that internationally different offices across europe, I had a lot of fun building an amazing team, I’m still proud of when, I think about that team and obviously also many setbacks and that was also the time when, I started to get more active on getting more diversity in tech because well obviously we noticed ourselves the lack of diversity and then, I met with the neely cruz she’s a well back then an eu commissioner famous in the netherlands for female empowerment as well and she was like yeah there’s certain things, I can do in my position but what is it that you can do and, I think that was a very good call because at the end of the day everybody can do something and that’s when, I decided to actually start doing things so then i set up with my then co-founder joelle inspiring 50 a non-profit to make female role models more visible and because in the media there were always the same u.s role models while there’s also many great ones in europe and, I think the closer a role model is to you in terms maybe of age and gender but also location it feels more relatable and more like that’s something you can achieve so we wanted to make them more visible and as part of that, I also published a book for young girls to try to get them excited about technology and because often they say oh tech is boring and difficult um and no, I’m not good at it and then you ask them do you want to work at snap or instagram and they say yes so the view they have of what tech is is often often wrong so publish the book about a young girl that learns to code builds build an app and then starts her own company and she goes through all the ups and downs of having your own company so it’s basically based on my own life but then wrapped into a much nicer story that appeals to 10 to 14 year old girls and published in a few countries and one of the trips, I did with unicef to south africa inspired me to give the book away for free because, I met many girls there from townships that due to the programs they did around stem really so much more opportunities in their future than the the the life they had today they thought they could never be more than just a girl from a township and the stem programs really gave them new perspectives and, I also really think that we need entrepreneurs from different backgrounds also to tackle all the issues there are in the world so entrepreneurs start a company because they um because they want to solve a problem that they face themselves so very black and white if you’re a rich white man from silicon valley and you think your taxi is late you invent uber if you grow up without clean drinking water you probably start a really different company and, I think we need both those companies and everything in between but it will lead to more diversity in the kind of problems that we are going to solve so that’s when, I decided to start giving the book away for free to underprivileged girls in different countries because not everybody can afford a book and so we did that and, I got so many emails from girls across the globe and that they were inspired by it that they were learning to code that they had id’s for a company and that really is encouraging and and yeah so so nice so um that’s that’s then um after, I saw that company, I stayed on for a few years as long as it was like fun and we could could continue to build then, I left and again decided to do nothing to think about what, I wanted to do next and, I think having this basically clean piece of paper and you can decide what your future will look like for the next 10 years from like from like zero is such a great opportunity because it is a little bit scary because, I often some not often, I sometimes wondered like hey what if the best is already in the past and how can, I do again something this great with such amazing people but that was only a small number of times most of the time i was like oh, I’m so excited, I can really decide on my future again for the third time and so, I did and then, I met eva and we decided to um start a fund together where for me a lot of the things, I care about come together, I like supporting entrepreneurs, I did angel investments and mentoring as well, I like the possibilities of technology i want to create a level playing field because, I think it doesn’t exist today so and, I really believe that fvcs are a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to increasing diversity so that’s how we got to capitalT and we wanted to do something um a different standard then there already was in the market so we focus on um four areas so precedences climate tag education future of work and web 3 and we use a model to evaluate teams more data driven and because interestingly in a in a in an industry that’s extremely data-driven when it comes to decisions around team it’s a gut feel that’s the main driver of those decisions and that includes bias stereotypes pattern matching so and we believe that when you look at things more data driven you at least level this out so we basically overlay our gut feel with some effects so that is very long intro but that’s a bit about my background.

Jeffery: I love it that’s a fantastic background and there’s so much to unpack and, I think where, I’m gonna start is when you first went into that creative side and started to learn while you were kind of in school this kind of probably gave you a great perspective on business and how business was running and you got to be creative what pushed you to kind of jump into your own business in that transition period when you’re finished school decide okay, I’m gonna just take this leap of faith what kind of drove you to do that what was the impetus inside of that you were working at a business you were probably getting paid well what kind of made you decide to make that leap.

Niessen: Well we we we thought we could do it better um and i’ve always been the kind of person that wants to achieve new things do things better and gets excited about opportunities so that combined with having a great great co-founder we were just like yeah let’s do this we can do this better let’s show them.

Jeffery: I love it and because you took that approach that you could do it better and you made the leap and you said you know what as you mentioned you had the opportunity to take some some maybe some loan from your your family but the point was is that you made the leap and, I think in the whole journey that you’ve kind of gone on that every time it’s a leap and you had the drive to actually and the risk to do this is there a couple things that you can coach people into just in this conversation by saying you know what just do it and, I know the nike thing just do it but is there something that can get people over the line because i think that is the biggest fear for entrepreneurship is that people just don’t know how to get themselves to drop everything and assume all this risk well.

Niessen: for me, I didn’t see it as a big risk um my thinking was well the worst thing that can happen is that, I learn a lot and, I fail and that will be slight bruise to my ego but, I still will have learned a lot and obviously, I will need to repay the loan but, I didn’t see the risk as so big my ego, I think it’s not that large so, I was like yeah let’s let’s go i was mainly looking at at the upside and, I think when, I speak to people and a lot of people tell me oh one day, I want to be an entrepreneur and, I really want to do this but when they don’t do it i my view is that um if you have mainly reasons to not do it you either don’t have the right id yet or you’re not an entrepreneur because, I think if you have the right id and you are an entrepreneur you only have reasons to do it so for me that’s um really important and also, I think people think they want to be an entrepreneur but they don’t always want to be an entrepreneur so and, I think if you really want it you you go and then, I do see that for me it was easy in the sense that, I um had my parents who could loan me the money so, I do see a huge difference in between people who don’t have that and that’s also with the fund when we do pre-sea deals we don’t um expect our founders to earn no salary we think it’s important that the that they can earn a living so that not only rich people can start um their own companies that’s very important to us and that doesn’t mean you need to be able to buy a huge house etc but that needs at least you need to be able to live.

Jeffery: Well very well shared and it does make sense that when you start to make that leap that you can be supported and that’s the reason why you give away equity so that you can get funds that help you move the business forward but even just to get yourself to make that initial step it’s it’s very daunting it’s scary because you don’t know the outcome you can’t predict what’s going to happen and, I think as you kind of.

Niessen: Need to start embracing that

Jeffery: And the curiosity you have to jump for it.

Niessen: Yeah and you need to embrace that you don’t know and you need to start liking that because otherwise it will be really

Jeffery: Totally

Niessen: Yeah

Jeffery: So now as you kind of move your propel yourself forward and you decide to create this new company you’re motivated you’ve jumped in you’re diving into this idea it’s the best idea you’re going for it brilliant and then you start to diversify which is now you’re going international and you mentioned that you were working in south africa and a few other countries most startups probably, I’m going to make a statistic 70 the higher fail rate is pretty high but the rate of companies actually being able to expand into other countries is very tough because they can barely figure out how to work and operate in their own country and now you’ve jumped into south africa currently, I’m in uganda right now and, I see what the world is like in all of the south african continent i’ve traveled through it and, I see that there’s so much potential and there’s so many people that have so much potential and then you come from the netherlands and you jump in and start creating these entities can you share how that went and what the excitement level was was it tough at first or was it just easy that there was a lot of people that just really wanted to be part of your business in these other countries.

Niessen: Yeah, I think um with the first company it was slightly different than with the second with the first company we grew internationally alongside microsoft that was then our biggest client and they wanted to expand so the good thing was that we already had business when we moved to those countries, I think what we did was always work with local people and, I think you have to you can’t assume that things are the same and and coming from europe, I think that’s something we realize fairly quickly because we have all these countries around us and and and we know that each of them are really different so it’s not like oh we expand in europe and and it’s like expanding in in in the country so we we had that realization, I think with the second company it was different um because then we didn’t grow with clients but as part of our strategy and that’s why we made also some big mistakes trying to move to too many countries at the same time and any startup knows that money is always a constraint and it’s time and when you start in too many countries you have to put money in each country and you can’t be everywhere at the same time so looking back we didn’t perform really well in any of those countries well if we would have done them one by one we could have had much more focus first to one country really well and then move to the next but we felt like oh we need to move fast otherwise the competitor is first and we really had this feeling then we needed to be the first mover and then to find out that being the first mover also has a lot of disadvantages because you’re educating the market in our case what we were doing it was like really new so we had to put a lot of effort in educating the market and then everybody was working with us but then a new company came in and that was shiny and new and of course they also knew the things that might not be perfect on our end but nothing is perfect but it’s like a new a new relationship and and so we also lost a client because of that they came back after a while but that was pretty tough and at the end of the day we did succeed but we learned some very hard lessons there and but no matter where we were going it was always super important for us to work with local people and what, I would advise everybody to go that goes international to work in the country where you’re opening an office at least like three months um because you can then work with that person really make sure that the culture is um is is similar to what it’s like at the head office but also to experience what it’s like to not be in head office and not be at the coffee bar where you can easily speak to other people and hear the most important things all these things you don’t hear when you’re not at the head office and, I think knowing that will really make you a better leader leading a global company.

Jeffery: Awesome there’s so much there and, I want to take back to the the founders side and what you talked about on scaling and moving into these countries really quickly and, I think when you were talking to it you said you weren’t the best at in all of the countries now does this drive from that mentality of a vc saying you need to scale you need to move you need to move so your brain is kind of running in this fast motion thinking that you need to take down the world and the more spaces you are the more money you’ll get the more value and not being able to prove it really but because you’ve got an office and a couple of clients did that really kind of propel you forward and allow you to continue to raise them to be part of that environment or do you find now today if you were to go back you would share back to your entrepreneur and say you know what let’s go into this country let’s spend eight months to a year actually really owning this space then go to the next one and the next one because every time you move a country you can take that one year chop it down to eight months chop it down to six and then maybe your scaling opportunities you can get every country ramped up to a couple million in revenue every six months versus trying to scatter and do three or four countries at one time because they’re being pressured to move quick.

Niessen: In our case it was more our sense of urgency than the push from vcs and again at the risk that, I’m sounding like really old and it was a different time back then there were not that many epcs and actually we already made a lot of revenue and we still could only raise two and a half million which is now like a decent precede rounds so it was it was anyway a different, I think knowing everything that, I know today i for sure would have raised more and also a big lesson is hire the best people not the people you can afford if you cannot afford the best people then don’t hire them yet because especially when you’re opening an office in another country so much depends on that first hire the network that ability to hire others the ability to attract clients so if it’s not like the absolute best person you just shouldn’t move and and i’m not saying that we should have like eight months in between but do one country really well work together with that first person so they also have the knowledge about opening a new office and they can also support you in opening other offices make an impact in terms of marketing and pr in that country have everything set up a few clients and then move to the to the next and and do the same there that yeah that, I would have to definitely different.

Jeffery: And that’s good advice because today everybody is looking to scale faster and even if they’re in say the united states they’re scaling across different states and to them that’s almost like going to a different country they have to be able to put a marketing dollars put employees in that space and, I think too when you’re scaling into these different environments some of the things that we forget is that there’s operations there’s problems that get started in their own ecosystem and those have to be dealt with so you end up becoming building your own problems while you’re building this business so, I think there’s a lot of pieces that you really can iron out if you do take a little bit of time up front versus trying to scatter and do everything really quickly.

Niessen: Yeah yeah and, I think certain things um are easier today as well like hiring people having a remote team that does many things that are different but in the essence, I think focus remains important.

Jeffery: And focus is one of my favorite words in anything that we do because at the end of the day you’re not going to be successful business if you can’t stay focused and you can’t drive yourself forward by fixing one problem and one solution and continuing to work that effort forward.

Niessen: Yeah and, I think it’s important for people to realize because if you now the media starts to change but if you looked at everything on twitter and in the media like the last year it was like oh you start and you’re a unicorn like six months later um but when you are building a company or you are close to seeing people build a company you know it’s extremely difficult so um the view that was out there for some time was just not realistic it’s really hard work it’s really difficult and you you don’t become a unicorn by just starting.

Jeffery: And scaling quickly and raising and hiring thousands of people at one time you know that there’s bound to be bigger problems that are going to come from that and and, I agree this the whole unicorn side of things is that one in a billion companies and it gets scaled like it’s happening every day everywhere and every company is a potential unicorn and, I think sometimes the media blows things a little bit too far to proportion

Niessen: Yeah

Jeffery: So there’s some other things that kind of propelled through on the scaling side and the businesses and what, I really liked about some of the things that you did in your background is that there were from awards that you’ve won different types of um non-for-profits there’s a lot of things that you’ve put yourself in front of to help lee and, I wanted to kind of dive into that because, I felt that when you were going through this journey and you’re building success you also felt the urge to kind of give back and while you’re giving back do you find that that benefited the communities that you were working within and do you recommend founders do the same thing because, I think there’s probably this line of when there’s doing too much and or it’s not returning value to you but, I found that all of the things that kind of went from in 2014 when you were entrepreneur of the year and then 2018 angel of the year you’ve had this great progression of amazing things that have accomplishments that support what you’ve done and at the right time you’re joining all of the these different types of committees how valuable is that to an entrepreneur to always have that in the back of their mind to be thinking about while they’re building their company they should be giving back.

Niessen: I think while you are building your company you should think about building your company and there’s a right time for everything and um, I think you can give back more when you have the the headspace and the and the time and, I’m a strong believer in giving back because, I think when you’re successful that’s due to your own hard work but also due to the ecosystem built by others that you actually start with and so, I believe you should give back to that ecosystem and make sure it’s you leave it behind stronger um so yeah there’s a time for everything when you’ve gone through the entire entrepreneurial um process you you can give back more value because you know more you have gone through the ups and downs and and can share um everything once you have sold your company you can actually you have the money to do some angel investments so i think there’s a time for everything and especially for women they can ask for a lot of um events to talk about diversity and, I always tell founders not to do it speak at events but speak about your business and because you don’t need to speak uh in a panel telling them that that you’re a woman because they can see you are a woman what, I like to hear is that you are actually building a an amazing company and and how you’re doing that and, I think as long as you’re still building your company that’s what you should focus on and everything you do should benefit the company and after that you can think about giving back to um to the to the broader community and and contribute to these kind of things while you’re building the fact that you are building should make you already a role model and that doesn’t mean you should not support other um entrepreneurs, I think for an entrepreneur it’s super important to have a network of other entrepreneurs because they all know what you’re going through and you and you’re the best the best ones to help each other when things are difficult.

Jeffery: I love that again it goes back to your comment about focus but, I agree that, I think there’s a tough balance when you know people are running events and they’re reaching out because you’re a female running a company and they want to get you on a panel but has nothing to do with your business and you feel that that’s great exposure but it’s taking away from your focus so, I i love that and, I guess that’s that whole point of drawing a line and putting in the know where, I’m not accessible at this point because, I’m focused on trying to build this company and that’s more important to me today.

Niessen: Yeah yeah and and inside me because, I’m building a great business.

Jeffery: Exactly for the other reasons not for the ones that are so obvious as you mentioned and you talked a bit about this diversity and, I think diversity has become kind of a really big platform today not just on the female founders side but, I think just from diversity in across all aspects what do you suggest or what can you share about team building as you mentioned you’ve got a platform you guys have a system that helps with that how can founders start to repair from that at the beginning because now investors are probably now more keen to look for diversity in teams you’ve built a system that helps with that how does that mindset change for founders and especially if they are pure tech founders, I can’t tell you how many times i’ve seen companies that are just purely as you’ve probably alluded to in many of your talks a lot of guys on the business because they’re all tech minded and there isn’t any diversity in the teams how do you start to get people to think more about that and in your previous companies it seemed like you were already on board with that and doing that throughout your businesses so it was easy transition for you how did you start doing that and how did you get people to start following along.

Niessen: Yeah for me it has always been um easy as in uh it it was just happening organically um and, I think, I always have an open mind to people from different backgrounds and people that are different than me as as, I very much look for somebody’s attitudes and that’s more universal so, I i think for me it has always been organically um, I have to say that convincing other people that it’s important is not always easy um because not everybody sees the need for it or they think it’s just nonsense um actually today, I had a conversation with somebody who said yeah, I’m not sure if women are just less good entrepreneurs or maybe they just don’t like it as much as men and it’s so frustrating to have these conversations still in 2022 but, I always try to show people
the effect of a lack of diversity and because that often makes them think different about it so what if you have a team and you build something um for just one group and it’s discriminatory to others or it excludes others or i mean we we all know these examples of algorithms that um exclude a lot of people and when you talk about the the effect the actual impact on people’s lives of a lack of diversity, I feel that most people are more receptive to the concept and, I think there will always be people that are not on board but yeah as every person we can convince that this is actually what the future should look like is one person and, I try to focus on the people that actually do have an open mind because some people you just you just can’t win and we often also get the question but so you um invest just in women and we’re like no we don’t just invest in women we invest in the best entrepreneurs and we don’t have a diversity mandate we don’t have a diversity target because we don’t think you need one if you um remove all the barriers that are in vc like warm introductions and you make sure you’re visible in all communities you’re easily approachable by different people then you select the best entrepreneurs from that pool you will get a diverse portfolio if you only look in the people in your network then it’s like the best ones then, I can guarantee you your portfolio won’t be diverse so for us um investing in the best founders is important and and that resulted in a portfolio that we have today a little 53 percent um of the companies have a female founder 58 have a founder of color when you look at lgbt bq as well then 84 of our companies are diverse um and we have quite a broad age diversity we have first time founder serial entrepreneurs solar founders teams so it’s it’s it’s diverse on all aspects, I would say.

Jeffery: Those are some fantastic statistics and i think it shows well to all the years that you’ve been building companies and how you’ve integrated into different communities from again south africa all the way across and not just being stuck in one area looking behind one culture so it’s phenomenal there is a kind of another thing that i felt that really shaped how you work and what you’ve been doing and, I found that that becomes part of your writing and this writing style that you have being that you have different columns that you write for how important do you feel that your voice became in all of this journey that you’ve been on has been created because you’ve had an open platform to kind of talk about everything that’s on your mind and write stories and write dialogue that kind of influences an entire world of entrepreneurs because you’ve had that platform you created it of course but you made it really strong in supporting that direction and opening people up to the ideas and to the change that they needed to see.

Niessen: Yeah, I think um it’s it’s sort of it’s part of me that, I, I try not to take the easy route and, I i see it as my responsibility to speak up about these topics and, I know you need to continue to address them because even though, I feel like, I’m a broken record people still can come up to me and say huh but tell me why is diversity so important and, I’m like what um so you need to repeat these things and and every time you will convince somebody and every time you will win also a new hater um but that’s that’s, I think a part of it somebody once told me haters are congratulations um if nobody responds then just nobody cares so, I really see it as my sort of also obligation um to speak up for people that are not in the position to speak up and, I try to become um a little bit like numb to the to the haters which is not always possible but yeah, I i i’m not sure if that answers your question.

Jeffery: It totally does and and, I support 100 on how you you’ve approached that and, I think when you from your writing and you can see this that when you’re behind an idea you’re supporting it and you’re pushing it out and you you mentioned it not everybody’s going to like you and you’re going to find some people that will push back but you’re going to find a lot of people that will get behind what you’re doing and, I think with the accomplishments and all of the things that you have done being outspoken and being able to write that word is going to make a big difference on building up a community that believes in what you’re doing and want to support it but on the same time when they build their own company they’re going to want to jump in and be part of that as well so it’s it’s a very circular economy that you have and it’s very exciting.

Niessen: Well it’s also like the the positive emails you get from people that tell you oh thanks for speaking up or oh you really helped me through it because you said this that helped me in this way it’s emails like that then that, I’m always like yeah because sometimes, I’m also tired i’m like oh can, I just focus on on on the one thing, I do and why do, I have to uh make it so difficult for myself and then, I get an email like that and, I’m like yeah that’s why.

Jeffery: It’s almost that serendipitous serendipitous moment when you say to yourself i, I’m i’m exhausted, I’m tired, I can’t believe, I’m doing this and then literally within 24 hours the email pops up and gives you that boost to keep going and you’re almost like you’ve hit a wall but someone on the outside is saying no no no keep going you’re doing the right things you’re helping and it makes sense yes so we’re going to kind of transition now and and, I think all of the things that you’ve kind of encompassed in your career and working in entrepreneurship, I feel like you’ve only been an entrepreneur, I i believe that even when you started off in corporate world for those two early years they were just an entrepreneur of yourself just getting the lay of the land so you could jump out and do something.

Niessen: Yeah but that was also a startup so, I wasn’t the entrepreneur but, I definitely felt like

Jeffery: Totally so being that you’ve been had this great career of entrepreneurship um maybe you can share kind of that heartfelt story of what it takes for a founder that what they had to go through to become a great startup or maybe they didn’t become there but they learned some great lessons we love that heartfelt story where she or he just took a something that wasn’t going to work and they made it work and there was a success so there was something great that came out of it is there a story or a use case that you could share that really exemplifies what it takes to be an entrepreneur well,

Niessen: I think to be honest that um this is what it’s like for almost every entrepreneur and and we mainly of course see the stories where you feel like everything is a breeze and they were suddenly successful and and, I know speaking to entrepreneurs that’s hardly ever the case everybody goes through moments where they feel they they the company almost dies and uh looking back at my own company we’ve gone through these things there was a moment where we uh where we had to launch a new platform raise funding we got sued so we were really on the edge of going bankrupt and we just made it and and knowing how thin that line is between success and failure um, I, I’m never that tough anymore to people that do fail um because, I know how close they probably were to being successful and um i i’ve seen this with many um with many founders also the ones we work with now and that’s also why we have on our website that we hope that we are the kind of vc that people uh call after the end of a shitty day and that they will call their friends at the end of a great day because entrepreneurship is just yeah glued together of little failures and tough moments and and one of the superpowers of any entrepreneur is handling knows because you have knows all the time multiple times a day you hear know from clients from potential um employees from investors you here know so often that your ability to handle them is like your superpower and then there’s also days that you can’t handle them because it’s the no you expect it to be a yes or it’s a very personal no or it’s a very personal note to you and um that’s okay to to lay your bed and cry for a few hours and then move on and those are also the moments where it’s great to be able to call another entrepreneur and say oh this happened to me and and they will understand how you feel and they will help you get through it so yeah, I think the most important thing for me is is the the the things you read in the press is pr um it’s not the real story it’s never the real story and the real story is never as glamorous or shiny or amazing it’s it’s it’s really tough there’s a piece of art, I have in my house where it says, I’m not delusional, I’m an entrepreneur and, I felt like that so often because everybody else was like oh please give up please stop please take a break and, I was like no, I can’t, I can’t we need to keep going and, I know we will get there.

Jeffery: Well shared um there’s a few things there that, I i really liked and there was one line that you said in one of the videos and it kind of encompasses what you just shared without failure you cannot call yourself an entrepreneur and i think that all what you just shared really does define that because you know as you mentioned what you read in the papers or in digital it’s just pr and, I think we get a little bit sidetracked on what that really means is that everybody’s creating a story and a story line for you to read and to be consumed and to feel that this is the best but underneath it you have no idea what is really going on and that pr stunt could have actually saved the company from failure it could have saved a lot of things that you have no idea about and even if it does fail that learning is tremendous value for that founder to be able to step back onto the horse and to start driving again into their next opportunity but you have to get to those stages and you have to get through those layers in order to figure out who you are what your resilience is and how hard you really are going to drive that business or the next one.

Niessen: Yeah and it never gets easier um so that’s also the fun part because even though with all your experience you you push yourself further and you will run into new problems so it never gets easier but that’s also the fun of it.

Jeffery: Just just jump on that so you found that from company one two and three that there wasn’t things that you were able to do quicker and run faster.

Niessen: Yeah but because you can do them quicker and better you you start at a different level and then there’s new problems there as well so it doesn’t get easier certain things are but then there’s new things always.

Jeffery: And those new things take place of the old things that were the maybe the less fixable problems back in the day so now those ones become a lot tougher to more bigger challenges so

Niessen: Yeah

Jeffery: I love it awesome okay we’re going to jump into rapid fire questions because if not, I could keep going for a million questions because the it’s been awesome so we’re going to jump into rapid fire questions and the way the rapid fire questions work is that you’ll pick one or the other and you’re coming in as the investor so you’ll choose one option a or b and then on the personal questions same idea you’ll choose a or b are you ready to roll.
Niessen: Yes

Jeffery: okay perfect, okay founder or co-founder

Niessen: Co-founder

Jeffery: Unicorn or a four-year 10x exit

Niessen: Unicorn

Jeffery: Tech or cpg

Niessen: Tech

Jeffery: Nft or web 3.0

Niessen: web 3

Jeffery: Ai or blockchain

Niessen: Ai

Jeffery: First time founder or a second third time founder

Niessen: First time founder

Jeffery: First money in or series a

Niessen: First one in

Jeffery: Angel or vc

Niessen: vc

Jeffery: Board seat or observer

Niessen: Observer

Jeffery: Safe or convertible note

Niessen: Safe

Jeffery: Lead or follow

Niessen: Lead

Jeffery: Equity or interest payments

Niessen: Equity

Jeffery: Favorite part of investing

Niessen: Sorry

Jeffery: the your favorite part of investing

Niessen: working with founders

Jeffery: Number of companies invested per year

Niessen: 10

Jeffery: Preferred terms any preferred terms

Niessen: No

Jeffery: Verticals of focus

Niessen: Verticals oh hours climate education future of work and web 3.

Jeffery: Perfect and then two qualities that a startup needs in order to stand out for you to invest.

Niessen: Storytelling and passionate founders

Jeffery: I like the passionate one agreed okay personal side

Jeffery: Book or movie

Niessen: Book

Jeffery: Superman or batman

Niessen: Superman

Jeffery: Restaurant or picnic

Niessen: Picnic

Jeffery: Five minutes with bezos or oprah

Niessen: Oprah

Jeffery: me too mountain or beach

Niessen: Mountain

Jeffery: Bike or run

Niessen: Bike

Jeffery: Big mac or chicken mcnuggets

Niessen: Big mac

Jeffery: Trophy or money

Niessen: Money

Jeffery: Beer or wine

Niessen: Wine

Jeffery: Camera or mobile phone

Niessen: A mobile phone

Jeffery: King or rich

Niessen: King

Jeffery: Concert amusement park

Niessen: Concert

F: Fortune cookie or birthday cake

Niessen: Cake

Jeffery: Ted talk or book reading

Niessen: Ted talk

Jeffery: I watched your ted talk, I thought it was great

Niessen: thank you

Jeffery: Most famous person that pops in your mind

Niessen: Oh obama

Jeffery: He gets a lot of people a lot of people say obama he’s very famous very famous favorite movie and which character would you play in the movie

Niessen: Love actually i watched that movie like a million times and what character would, I play
Um i think, I think the prime minister.

Jeffery: Okay, I have to watch this movie, I’m not sure i’ve seen it

Niessen: oh it’s very cheesy

Jeffery: Perfect we all can use in a couple hours of cheesy time so, I guess that could
work all right favorite book

Niessen: Favorite book that’s a good one, I ordered one that, I think will become my new favorite book um i really liked the book of michelle obama.

Jeffery: okay, I haven’t read that one but, I’m adding it to my list.

Niessen: yes

Jeffery: I like it okay first brand that pops into your mind

Niessen: iphone apple

Jeffery: Apple apple is probably, I haven’t taken the full stats yet but, I will say that apple is about 40 30 to 40 percent of all answers they are a phenomenal marketing machine

Niessen: Yes they are and they make

Jeffery: Favorite sports oh they do they do favorite sports team

Niessen: The dutch national team of course

Jeffery: Nice yes yes the favorite app that you’re using on your mobile today

Niessen: Twitter

Jeffery: They’re right in the think of things these days so good choice good choice what is the meaning of success to you

Niessen: Making an impact and the ability to make a bigger impact

Jeffery: okay what is your superpower

Niessen: Handling nose yeah,

Jeffery: I like that you shared that a little bit earlier so that’s that’s bang on so i like that that’s good okay well, I want to say thank you very much for all of your time today.

Niessen: Yeah that’s one question, I forgot to answer early on what nobody knows about
me or most people don’t know about me and that’s um i have a full closet of all kind of gift wrapping things papers uh and stickers and everything and, I really like gift wrapping.

Jeffery: That’s amazing yeah i’ve never never would have seen that, I thought you were going to tell me you had this closet and you’re on the website and you have the thing where your clothes are on there, I know there’s websites on you’re no that’s brilliant.

Niessen: so that’s my my yoga that gives me peace of mind.

Jeffery: I like that brilliant well, I’m glad you shared that and, I’m glad you stopped this to make sure that you did share that so thank you for for doing that um well Janneke, I want to say thank you very much again for 100th time because really it’s been phenomenal getting the opportunity to chat with you today and being able to dive in and unpack a lot of your background in your history and, I think you’re doing some amazing amazing things not just in europe but, I think globally you’re doing a lot of great things helping entrepreneurs women diversity everybody keep up the amazing work, I think we all owe you one because you’re putting a lot of that weight on your shoulders by helping entrepreneurs and helping people open up and again super amazing on the book and being able to give that away, I think that’s also phenomenal, I think there’s a lot of people that appreciate that and of course they’re sharing that with you and the way we like to end our show is we like to give you the last words so anything that you want to share to the entrepreneurs or to investors, I turn it over to you but thank you again for your time today.

Niessen: Well, I would say if you have if if you have any doubts about should you start your own company it’s the best thing out there so please do.

Jeffery: I love it thank you very much.

Niessen: Thank you bye.

Niessen: Okay that was brilliant Janneke has such a um amazing background she’s doing so much on the entrepreneurial world and helping entrepreneurs from all over the world and, I love the fact of how she looks for people that have passion donating her book to underprivileged women to help them learn to code and to build fantastic and she’s talked about so many things on how and what you should be looking for when you start a company but just get out there and do that find some great people to to work with team is super heavily important she uses that in the code in the way she breaks down and makes investments that is obviously a key to any um survival of a business and of course the scalability and being able to scale in international markets and she proved that by in a couple of her businesses by scaling into multiple countries but, I think at the end of the day all of this came back to us having the right people on your team and having the right vision drive and passion to be able to build out your company again thank you for all of those valuable points and thank you for joining us today if you enjoyed this conversation please feel free to share with your friends or subscribe to our youtube channel follow us on spotify apple podcast and our stitcher your support and comments are truly appreciated you can also check us out at supportersfun.com or for startup events visit opn.ninja have a great day and thanks for joining us today.

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