What does Rabobank do for start-ups?

Driving force behind the economy

An innovative idea can be the driving force behind the economy and can stimulate the creation of new employment. This is why Rabobank supports start-up entrepreneurs by providing access to knowledge, funding and networks. The bank also regularly draws inspiration from the fresh and novel ideas that the entrepreneurs have for the future of the banking industry.

Customers’ needs and wishes are changing at a whirlwind pace. This demands continuous innovation of products and services to ensure the bank stays near to its customers in a rapidly developing world. Rabobank wants to be a leader in the innovation of its services. That’s why it gives innovative start-ups room to grow and continually looks for good ideas from within its own organisation.

But the bank also believes it is important to track and encourage creative developments and trends outside the bank. Rabobank does this in a number of ways.

Rabobank has also reached out to form new partnerships with other large organisations in the Netherlands. The bank teamed up with KLM, Ahold, TomTom, Philips, USG and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to host the Dutch Open Hackathon in September 2014, a 30-hour event that has grown into one of the largest hackathons worldwide. The bank was also an initiator of the first Dutch FinTech Hackathon in 2014.

FinTech is the collective term for technology-driven innovation in the financial sector that is on the rise. Research reveals that global investment in FinTech has trebled within the space of just one year: from 4 billion dollars in 2013 to 12 billion dollars in 2014.

Start-ups play a key role in setting new trends. This led Rabobank, in association with DLL, to enter into a partnership with Startupbootcamp FinTech in London and E- & Mcommerce in Amsterdam. Startupbootcamp helps start-ups worldwide gain access to an international network of relevant partners, investors and mentors in their sector. Through this partnership, Rabobank gains access to start-ups in financial services. This has led to a positive track record with Facturis, an incoming and outgoing invoice and payment flows services provider, and MyOrder, an easy and cashless method for ordering, paying and saving.

An impression of FinTech & CyberSecurity - Startupbootcamp 2017.

Holland FinTech

Rabobank also announced in 2015 that it will participate in Holland FinTech together with ING and ABN AMRO. It is an independent platform that aims to accelerate technological innovation in the Dutch financial sector. It achieves this aim by bringing financial institutions, technology companies and investors together in one network.

More than forty organisations, including both start-ups and established institutions, have registered as members since the platform was launched in October 2014. The participation of the three Dutch banks will strengthen Holland FinTech's role as driver of financial innovation.

Herman Wijffels Innovation Award

Rabobank promotes innovative start-ups in the Netherlands by presenting different awards. More and more entrepreneurs see opportunities for turning a sustainable idea into a commercially successful innovation. Rabobank provides these pioneers with a podium and contributes to their commercial success through the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award.

Herman Wijffels is a professor and former Rabobank Executive Board Chairman. When he stepped down as Chairman, Rabobank set up a fund and let Herman Wijffels decide how it would be used. He chose to promote innovation and sustainable enterprise. The Herman Wijffels Innovation Award was instituted in 2002 in order to achieve this. Since then it has developed into one of the Netherlands’ leading innovation awards.

Next Entrepreneur

The Dutch Royal Association for small and medium-sized enterprise, MKB-Nederland, and Rabobank launched The Next Entrepreneur in 2012. It is a contest that challenges start-up entrepreneurs to continually improve themselves and to expand their opportunities. In addition to the contest, The Next Entrepreneur provides start-ups with a knowledge programme, relevant information, advice and an extensive network. The Next Entrepreneur website says: ‘The Next Entrepreneur conducts enterprise with passion, has an ambitious plan and works in a targeted fashion. He or she is distinctive from the competition thanks to a unique proposition and is always looking for innovations and improvements in order to address the latest developments and trends.’

Tips for start-ups

Rabobank has launched a popular website in the Netherlands: Ikgastarten.nl (‘I am starting). This platform is designed for both start-up entrepreneurs and people who are currently still employed at a company, but are considering taking the leap to start their own business. The site provides access to more than 3,800 articles packed with useful information and tips. Ikgastarten.nl attracts 100,000 visitors a month.

Meetings for starters and successors

Local banks regularly organise meetings for entrepreneurs. From consultation sessions for starting entrepreneurs to 'starter cafes' and starter reunions. For young farmers taking over the family business, Rabobank introduced the Successors Horizon. The Successors Horizon provides participants with the opportunity to achieve personal and professional development during the years leading up to the succession.

Fresh ideas

Rabobank looks for new and fresh ideas within its own ranks as well. The bank uses internal campaigns to encourage its employees to join in the process of thinking about innovative products, services and processes. A good example of this type of internal campaign is Moonshot, which is a search for the most groundbreaking technological idea from Rabobank colleagues worldwide.

'Moonshot' refers to the quest to make the impossible possible and is a term that was coined by President Kennedy in the famous speech he gave in 1962. He said it was his dream for man to set foot on the moon in that decade. That giant leap for mankind became a reality, a technological miracle.

Employees with good ideas were invited to submit them as a Moonshot idea until the end of February 2015. A jury of professionals selected the five most innovative ideas. The Innovation Board subsequently selected the three best ideas based on pitches. The three employees with the winning ideas had the opportunity to present them to the Executive Board. The best idea  receives resources in the form of budget, time and mentoring.

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