Article written by our Amsterdam Partner Youri Doeleman, original publication here.
On August 18, 2018, I had a realization. It was the realization that another life-changing opportunity had fallen onto my path. Earlier in life in similar situations, I didn’t realize the ripple effects that a decision in such a situation has over time - for example when I decided to volunteer in the Ecuadorian rainforest at the age of 17. Then ten years later, when I became convinced to move from Japan to Norway in pursuit of love and a career at McKinsey, I would be more conscious but it still took substantial time (ie. weeks/months) to take the plunge. This time around, I knew within minutes that it was ‘another one of those moments’. It was when I caught up over video call with Magnus Grimeland (founder and CEO of Antler), my old colleague and friend who I’d worked together with a few years before. He made me an offer on the spot to join Antler as Partner and kickstart any new location on Earth.
The months following were exhilarating. In Oct-Dec 2018, I met with hundreds of new people in the Netherlands as I dove head-first into the local tech and startup ecosystem. By January, I had hired 4 people to kickstart the Antler Netherlands launch. By February, we identified and reached out to 6000 high-potential founders across Europe to entice them to join our first Netherlands cohort, and we onboarded our first 20 Advisors. In March, we were featured in Het Financieele Dagblad, BNR, Sprout and de Telegraaf, we expanded our team to 10, and we started to get recognized in the region by many different stakeholders. By April, we had attracted more than 1500 applicants, held over 700 interviews, and selected 70 founders; confirmed our wonderful program space at Epicenter - as well as confirmed our first two external Investment Committee members, the well-renowned early-stage investors Johan van Mil (Peak Capital) and Ohad Gilad (Keadyn). On May 13th, we launched the first-ever Antler Netherlands program. It has been the single most exciting phase of my professional life so far, and last week was the pinnacle.
In an attempt to share that excitement, here are some of my personal highlights of the past week:
So, what can we learn from the above? For me, it is that new beginnings have the power to unleash the deepest sources of energy we all hold inside us. And that to find your new beginning, you need to learn how to recognize opportunities when they present themselves.