Founder's Spotlight: Rotterdam's Innovation Community

In this special episode of CIC’s Founder's Spotlight, Emma Wright takes the show on the road to the Venture Café event at CIC Rotterdam. 

Borrowing a local podcast studio, she pulls six entrepreneurs from the crowd to learn more about Holland's innovation community. Below, you will find a partial transcript of the interview and companies. 


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Bob JansEn


Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

A: “[Many] fairly short term focused businesses have popped up since startup industry caught on — and I really believe that more healthy businesses with a long term vision are more impactful to what we try to do here [at Firmhouse].”

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Noelle Fischer & Victor Westerwoudt

Clockworks Data Science

Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

Victor: “I don't know. I mean, we're nerds. We do nerdy stuff and we like being nerds. At least I speak for myself on that. So what gets me out of bed in the morning is being able to work on something that's not there yet. And at the end of the day having progressed a bit forward into creating something that's new and that solves a problem that was unsolvable before.”

Rogier Wilmink

Baron Vermouth 

Q: How does your product impact the City of Rotterdam? 

A: The cool thing about the vermouth is it's called Baron and it's an homage to the harbor barons of old times. In the early 1900s the harbor barons of Rotterdam built up the city and founded the university so their sons could go to school here. They did a lot of cool things for the city to help it flourish and grow and be as beautiful as it is now. But at the same time it's a harsh city. It's a bit rough around the edges. So what we did is we developed a flavor with a lot of nice citrus tones but also a little bit bitter. There's a lot of nice caramelized sugars but also a little bit of herbs like bergamot, thyme, rosemary. We are looking for the contrasts in our drink which you can also see here in the city. And because it's an homage to the harbor barons, it will also be a sort of an homage to the city itself.


Lennart van der ZieL

Travis the Translator

"I met my two co-founders here at Venture Café. Last year I was in the founding team of the Venture Cafe Rotterdam. It's a weekly event, which means that you can you meet people over and over again, and can establish a bond and make future plans. And that's also how I met my co-founders. They were also really active here in the community and we shared a lot of the same ideas on how to how to start a company, what the culture should be, and agreed that social impact is a really important thing to integrate your company."


Lorenzo van Galen

Launch Time Podcast

Q: How will your podcast affect the City of Rotterdam?

A: I think voice, and the first minutes of our day are really really valuable. We were trying to come up with something to get the “normal guy” to podcast and thought of the “Rot-cast,” the nicest podcast there is. This is a conversation with someone for 5-10 minutes… the podcast would be complete when we speak to all 700,000 people in Rotterdam.


Damaris Verboom

Society Finch

Q: How will your nonprofit affect the City of Rotterdam?

A: "Well I think it's very important to help your surrounding [neighbors], not necessarily to all become the same as each other, but at least to get connected. And that's also from my background as a cross-cultural psychologist. That is also what drives me: the beauty of different cultures while we can learn from each other. So I think that this is a way to enrich our culture, give insight to each other, get conversations started, and in the end include groups of cultures that right now don’t really have a place.”