By Pieter Welten – Prime Ventures (@pieterwelten)

A few weeks ago I attended the South Summit in Madrid. I was aware of the keynote of HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands later that afternoon on the main stage. Prince Constantijn recently succeeded Neelie Kroes as special envoy of the Dutch start-up programme StartupDelta2020. Being Dutch myself I was obviously interested to learn what he had to say to all the entrepreneurs, investors and media at the conference.

His speech was inspiring and encouraging and I honestly enjoyed the high level of energy. Essentially he was talking about somebody’s ‘mindset’, which is an essential contributor to any success. A mindset can have a massive impact on the success (or failure) of anything. Whether it is a start-up, venture capital firm or soccer team (remember Leicester City winning the Premier League last year?), by developing and managing a positive attitude and mindset, you are better positioned to steer your boat (or rocket ship) in the right direction. Hence, according to Prince Constantijn, there is no reason why European entrepreneurs and investors can’t rival their US counterparts. The European VC ecosystem is growing and maturing and Europe is producing large tech companies with sustainable growth. I agree with him that we are making little steps in the right direction and that a positive mindset could help us building tech giants such as Uber, Google or Amazon. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget that success is the sum of many small efforts (or steps)!

As a special envoy of the Dutch start-up ecosystem, he also (unsurprisingly) pitched the Netherlands as the ideal start-up hub in Europe to the crowd. What I truly found remarkable, though, was the fact that he was not referring to ‘the Netherlands’, but to the ‘West Coast of Europe’. Talking about a positive attitude..

Some might view Lisbon as Europe’s west coast, especially since it has this year’s Web Summit (personally looking forward to it!). However, the analogy suits the Netherlands better as it has a more mature tech ecosystem. The Dutch ecosystem has produced some well-known brands including, Adyen, Catawike and Elastic. And events such as the recent IPO of and initiatives of the government to ‘invest €50 million to boost start-up growth’ in 2017 will trigger more  growth in the sector.* Moreover, with the UK (or England?) leaving the European Union, it makes also sense from a geographical point of view. I can understand that Prince Constantijn positions the Netherlands as such and wants to use the analogy to our benefit.

Some say optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. With HRH Prince Constantijn’s positive mindset, enthusiasm and network I feel comfortable that he will meet his objectives and that the Dutch (startup) ecosystem will further mature in the years to come. It will be challenging, yes I understand, but we can and will continue to close the gap with the US. Not only here, but across Europe. So lets spread his positive attitude to the east (coast) of Europe and take on the challenge!

* Note. Dutch innovation is further fuelled by an excellent education system, a favourable tax code, strong tech infrastructure, startup visas and the Netherlands has beautiful and affordable places to live in. All ingredients are there for a first-rate tech hub!