Last week I was fortunate enough to be the NewCo team representation in Amsterdam and attended the first of our eight festivals scheduled for this year. Our 2014 Tour Schedule kicked off with great style in the City of Diamonds, featuring an outstanding roster of host companies that exemplify what it means to be a NewCo.
As I prepared for the trip, I found this article which points to the gentrification of the city as a good news story. While some might not think that replacing real urban grit and reality with Starbucks is a good news thing, I can report that, while it is true, I found Amsterdam to feel less gritty, the more seedier aspects have been replaced by sustainable development and projects that are a boon to the community and visitor alike.
It was 28 years ago that I took a wrong left hand turn out of the train station and found myself in a scary industrialized part of the city with nothing but junkies and other unsettling characters. Now, that same left hand turn out of the train station takes you to OBA, a library meets community center, filled with restaurants, books, free internet and other resources. The area was teaming with people meeting up for coffee, studying or preparing for another day. The public/private partnership seeks to bring the services out into the community with a host of programs and interactive engagements. The city of Amsterdam seems to have struck the perfect balance of positive change while maintaining authenticity and livability.
Back to NewCo and my experience in Amsterdam. We are very proud of our local partners who curated 48 great companies, all of whom championed the NewCo values and presented their most forward looking and disruptive initiatives that are making positive change. The mix included big international brands (Tesla, PayPal, Twitter and Uber) along with local companies (Vanmoof, Tom Tom, Lightwell and MassiveMusic) as well as showcasing other key drivers in this ecosystem; incubators/shared work spaces (Startup Bootcamp, Spaces, A-Lab) and many more. Once this stellar line up was confirmed the local team attracted a crowd of over 800 registrants to tour the city and visit the host companies.
My favorite session of the day was at Vanmoof, a cool high tech bike company that embeds a GPS system in to the frame of the bike. It is the world’s first un-stealable bike and they’ve added a small electric motor for giving riders a boost up hills. Given that Amsterdam is known for their bikes it is not surprising that a company like Vanmoof would emerge here. Attendees not only got to hear about these cool bikes but anyone who wanted to, got to take a test spin right there at the session.
Happily, the NewCo formula continues to be a success in new markets. The attendees were enthusiastic about the access inside these best-in-class companies, all of whom are leading change in their corner of the universe. This is the magic of NewCo and atomic unit of value; bringing together cool and cutting edge companies, who are interested in sharing their mission and vision. The connections, potential deals and overall goodwill that comes from the NewCo experience will help drive the innovation economy even further.