Floris van Hoogenhuyze co-founded two companies operating in PropTech. First Barqo, an online boat rental platform and then WE.VESTR, an equity management platform. Find out what’s his mission at WE.VESTR, what is it about entrepreneurship that particularly attracts him and how he’s contributing to the startup ecosystem in the Netherlands.
1. Hi Floris, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?
I’m originally from The Hague and I’ve always known that I wanted to stay in the Netherlands and build something scaleable both within the Dutch market as well as throughout Europe. During my studies, I was always more excited about entrepreneurial activities than I was about typical classwork.
Once I finished my graduation, I took an internship at a corporate bank in the private and business banking department. It came as no surprise that this was not my calling. So, after the internship, I came into contact with two investors who wanted to partner up and build a startup in real estate. I helped build that company for a couple of years and experienced my first real taste of the startup world.
The first companies I co-founded were active in PropTech. The idea for Barqo came up in 2014, and we built the Dutch market leader for online boat rentals. In January of 2020, I founded WE.VESTR. Since then we have been building WE.VESTR, and we are happy to serve entrepreneurs and release updates for the platform.
2. WE.VESTR puts founders and investors in control of their ventures. Could you tell us more about your mission?
We like to say that WE.VESTR is where entrepreneurs manage their equity. Our mission is to make the equity investment process easier for both founders and investors. To do this, we’re digitizing cap tables, streamlining shareholder management, simplifying portfolio management as well as making employee option plans easy to manage for both founders and employees. Long term, we’re also working to tokenize shares to enable primary/internal exchanges of company shares.
3. What is it about entrepreneurship that particularly attracts you? How do you feel you’re contributing to the startup ecosystem in the Netherlands?
I’ve always been drawn to entrepreneurship because it’s truly boundless and comes down to people rallying around an idea to create something that will improve the world around them. I think that’s pretty exciting. We created WE.VESTR because of our own experience as entrepreneurs. Cap tables, financials, shareholders and legal documents were always managed in multiple softwares. This caused constant headaches for my past co-founders and shareholders and has dramatically improved through a centralized platform like ours.
We always say that WE.VESTR is a new solution to an old problem, and our ultimate goal is to make the lives of both founders and investors, easier. We save them time and simplify equity management. Our core driver in doing all of this is to unlock the true potential of entrepreneurs by giving them more time to build something amazing. We’re really in the business of empowering entrepreneurs because, ultimately, they are our customers. The more entrepreneurs we support, the more customers become available to us.
4. You’re a serial entrepreneur. Could you tell us a bit about other companies you founded and share the top three lessons for founders you’ve learned over the years?
The first companies I co-founded are operating in PropTech. The idea for Barqo came up in 2014, and we build the Dutch market leader for online boat rentals. In January of 2020, I co-founded WE.VESTR. Ever since then, we’ve been building WE.VESTR, and we’re happy to be serving customers and releasing updates to the platform.
The three lessons I’d like to share with fellow entrepreneurs are:
- Realize traction as soon as possible. Even if it’s not huge amounts of revenue coming in at first, it’s always good for the startup to show investors or other stakeholders that the business model really works.
- Always start with data analysis as early as possible. It provides useful strategic insights, even at an early stage.
- Last but not least, be persistent. Always dare to fail and approach business as an experiment. In the end, there is only one way to find things out. By trying them!
5. What’s the next big thing in the startup world? What do you predict for the ecosystem in the Netherlands in the near future?
Stakeholder involvement and financial inclusivity are not only crucial to WE.VESTR’s vision, but also critical to the future of the startup ecosystems in the Netherlands and in Europe. Startups are tailor-made to include stakeholders, like employees. Including employees in equity plans is not only a recruitment tool, it also has a flywheel effect on startup ecosystems. It creates momentum for startup employees to invest in the companies they work for.
The U.S. has had this ‘flywheel’ ecosystem in place for years, and I really think that Europe is on the cusp of unlocking the next generation of startups if we can perfect how to simplify stakeholder inclusion.
Thank you for sharing your story and insights, Floris. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.
Join our network of startups & investors!