The Next Web: making a quick app and a buck are not the answer

The Next Web: making a quick app and a buck are not the answer

The Next Web promised to pull out all the stops this year to deliver an event unlike anything else on the European technology or startup scene. Esther O´Toole went down to check out the promised festival vibe and what the movers and shakers of the digital age have in store for us next.Free wifi? A given. Wireless earphones for better audibility, handy. Live streaming, top notch. Mobile charging lockers, genius. Seaweed burgers, stilt walkers, and live music? Awesome.In 2015 The Next Web hit its 10th year, and you might expect an anniversary edition of this sort to be a hard act to follow. But, as if to tangibly demonstrate the exponential growth of technology, this year was more than twice as big - moving from 3,500 visitors to 9,400.Both visitors and speakers descended upon Amsterdam from all over the world to indulge in two days of total tech immersion, from keynote speakers and exhibitor tents, to practical how-to workshops, an early stage startup competition and a hackathon.Starting up in AmsterdamAmsterdam has been busy promoting itself as the creative, tech and startup capital of Europe and TNW was one of three major international technology conferences going on in Amsterdam last week, alongside Techweek and Startup Fest.All of them attracted big name digital-age giants as keynote speakers: think Steve Huffman of Reddit, Julie Zhuo on Facebook, Gary Vaynerchuk of Vaynermedia and Danae Ringelmann of Indiegogo. Yet while Startup Fest came under fire in some quarters for the surplus of suits, TNW was not your average business conference.The days when being in tech sounded corporate, geekish, or even the quickest way to make a million are clearly now behind us. Though topics such as business building, marketing, and leveraging social media were of course still being presented at TNW, there was a tangible sense of forward momentum.In March 2015, in an article for De Correspondent, philosopher and journalist Rutger Bregman criticised the startup culture in Amsterdam as being too much directed towards making an app and a quick buck rather than towards real problems.This year the conversation, at least at TNW, has clearly shifted. The emphasis of many of the speakers and thought leaders was on hunting for vision; think promoting social enterprise not just social responsibility, purpose, imagination and working towards a fairer society.Whack-a-moleDanae Ringelmann, CDO and Co-Founder of crowdfunding site Indiegogo, sat down for a chat with after speaking to a packed house at the Entrepreneur stage. She highlighted the necessity of 'finding your why'.'If you´re not working on something that you're passionate about, it makes entrepreneurship harder. It´s easier to give up,'Ringelmann said, 'It´s a mission that will drive you. We kept at it because we cared about giving everyone a fair shot.'She emphasises the vital role of setting up a diverse workplace from the start, unified only by mission and values; if you have this kind of team with multiple perspectives on a given challenge, Ringelmann says ´the innovation will take care of itself. You need to remember that innovation is the means not the end.´Indiegogo were there for knowledge sharing but also to show how they were taking their offering for would be entrepreneurs further. Having successfully tackled the biggest obstacle - funding - they are now moving on to providing the other tools new business developers need to succeed. 'Entrepreneurship is like Whack-a-Mole,' the co-founder said.And this was where ideas seemed to be moving, successful startups are pivoting into new areas, with their eyes on how the very future of work is shifting, on transparency, on access to the benefits of digital and on mobility.Dave Fano, chief product officer for WeWork - an office sharing company with bases in twenty-nine global locations including Amsterdam - told us how they have changed in the last few years: from the straightforward provision of workspace for freelancers and small businesses, to trying to create a global network that can be tapped into as a member and allows for the kind of nomadic business practices that are on the rise.´We're building tech layers on top of our physical infrastructure, to help members build more meaningful relationships. We want to take some of the friction out of getting to know people and link them internationally. Then even a two person company can have an immediate global reach. We're here today to learn from other people,' he said.Long term inspirationVisitors were reacting well to this long term thinking. As Michaela Botha from Lendstar, a German Fintech company that enables peer-to-peer lending put it: 'We're here to look for clients and investors but for inspiration as well.'A sentiment echoed by Andre Assalino, Creative Director for MPC Creative a media and VR company: 'I get really switched on by hearing others talk about their products. It's inspirational to see how I might use something new.'The questions posed to, and by, startups are clearly changing; and now a discussion is opening about the need to reframe our notions of success. As Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher for Microsoft, summed up in his keynote speech today: 'Now that we can do anything, what should we do? Good luck. Change the world.'  More >

10 great things to do in June

From sailing ships to poetry; here’s 9 great things to do in June From classical music by the sea to roaring motor bikes and from lovely photos of the Dutch royal family to poets reading their own work, here's our pick of the best things to do in June.Hear the slap of canvas in the sea breezeThe Round Texel Race is the world’s largest catamaran race with around 500 single and double-handed catamarans taking part. There is also kite surfing and raceboard slalom competitions during the four-day event. Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning are defending their titles from last year, ahead of competing at the Rio Olympics in August.De Koog, Texel, June 25. www.roundtexel.comCheck out the very latest in the performing arts This annual cultural festival offers a broad scope of international performing arts, and features both established names and new talent. It continues to innovate, exploring new forms of theatre and new types of venue, such as staging performances in public spaces. Already scheduled for this edition are The Cure (photo) and The...  More >

'You can’t beat Amsterdam on a sunny day'

‘I love the Amsterdam lifestyle. You can’t beat Amsterdam on a sunny day’ Jessica Lipowski, 28, is an American writer who fell in love with Europe as a child and came to Amsterdam straight after college. Although after five years she considers herself an Amsterdammer, she still gets thrown sometimes by the Dutch ‘three kisses’ greeting.How did you end up in the Netherlands? Thanks to my parents, travel has always been a huge part of my life. When I was 12 years old I travelled to England for the first time and I remember telling my mom ‘I’m going to move here’. Every other European country I visited over the years, I repeated the same thing. She told me ‘if you want it, make it happen’, and that’s what I did.A few months after finishing university I applied for jobs in Amsterdam and London, and after I met my Dutch boyfriend a few months later, the decision was easy.How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc? Most of the time I use the term expat. But I’m half German, half Polish, 100% American,...  More >

‘I am not a tourist’ in Eindhoven

‘I am not a tourist’ expat fair comes to Eindhoven Learning Dutch, finding a house, experiencing Dutch culture, making connections, solving immigration and tax issues…everything is an option at the ‘I am not a tourist’ expat fair which is taking place in Eindhoven next month.The ‘I am not a tourist’ fair is the biggest expat-orientated event in the Netherlands, which until now has only been held in Amsterdam. But this year, for the first time ever, the event will also be held in the south east of the country – in recognition of the growing importance of the region as an international centre.The ‘I am not a tourist’ fair in Eindhoven is a prime opportunity for internationals in Eindhoven and beyond to find out more about life in the ‘lowlands’. The event brings together 50 exhibitors and more than 1,500 internationals in an historic setting: the former VDMA garage on the Vestdijk, a stunning industrial building in the heart of the city.SeminarsNewcomers will be able to find out more about housing in...  More >

Seven-year 'inburgering' legal battle ends

Seven-year legal battle over ‘inburgering’ comes to a head in court This Friday, lawyer Jeremy Bierbach will be in court in Utrecht to hear the verdict in his seven year battle against a key component of the compulsory Dutch integration programme, or inburgering. If he wins, it could help fuel a significant change in how the controversial programme is administered.By Brandon HartleyYears ago, an American known as ‘P’ and a New Zealander known as ‘S’ were shocked when they received letters from their local councils informing them that they were required to take exams to prove they were properly integrated into Dutch society. Both had permanent residency permits and assumed they were exempt from the programme. Uncertain of how to handle the situation, they went to a forum on a popular website for expats in search of answers.There the duo, whose full names remain secret due to Dutch legal stipulations, encountered a group of people just as confused as them and grappling with their own inburgering obligations. That’s when attorney...  More >

Holland Festival goes to Edges of Europe

This year’s Holland Festival is on the Edges of Europe Tickets are now on sale for the Netherlands’ biggest international theatre festival, featuring 45 productions, including 12 world premiers. Esther O’Toole takes a peek behind the curtain.‘Urgent and political’ is how artistic director, Ruth MacKenzie, describes the 69th edition of the Holland Festival which opens in Amsterdam on June 4. Taking inspiration from the Netherlands’ leadership of the EU this year, the festival is entitled The Edges of Europe and it aims to be edgy in more ways than one.They are setting the bar high, kicking off with an epic production from Hamburg’s Thalia Theater and Estonian directorial duo Ene-Liis Semper and Tilt Ojasoo. This pair not only hail from the literal edges of Europe but are renowned for their audacious and highly political form of theatre; work that in the past has included setting themselves up as a populist political party.Modern EuropeThe film of that show, Ash and Money, can be seen at the festival alongside this...  More >

'At times, I realise I am not Dutch'

‘At certain moments in the year you realise you’re totally not Dutch and never will be’ Mike Russell (52) has lived in the Netherlands for 28 years, and manages an apartment rentals company. He feels at home here, but still doesn’t feel entirely Dutch. However, in true Dutch style, he gave this interview while riding his bike through the centre of Amsterdam to work.How did you end up in the Netherlands? I finished my Phd in computer science in Wales, then I registered with an agency in London and said ‘get me a job anywhere but the UK’. They came up with all kinds of options, and I started work as an Apple Mackintosh developer here in 1988.Years later, I had a consultancy company which I sold because I wanted to do something that I had no background, skills or qualifications in. I knew some people in real estate, had a chat with them and though it sounded interesting. So I started that in Amsterdam in 2002.How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I guess I started as a classic expat, and over the years I have become pretty...  More >

The new extremists

How moderate right-wingers have become ‘extremist’ europhiles Economist Mathijs Bouman charts the journey from being a moderate right-winger to an extremist europhile.You think that free trade is a good starting point for economic diplomacy, preferably via multilateral free trade agreements, or if that can’t be done via bilateral agreements.You think close cooperation with the US is a no-brainer. Naturally, some hard nuts will have to be cracked at the negotiating table but then a mutually advantageous free trade accord should be in the bag.You thought everybody would see the advantages of such an agreement but while your back was turned for five minutes public opinion had shifted dramatically. Free trade is in the interest of multinationals, people say, and they are only interested in poisoning us with chlorine chickens  and hormone beefFreedom and prosperityAfter a quarter of a century you are cancelling your Milieudefensie membership. Once an organisation for nature lovers you gladly supported, it now has an anti-globalist...  More >

The Next Web: prepare to be disrupted

The Next Web: technology takes centre stage in Amsterdam What started out as a couple of tech entrepreneurs trying to promote their new startup to a gathering of some 220 interested people, has metamorphosed into one of the biggest and most important technology events in the world.Esther O’Toole sat down with Wytze de Haan, the managing director of events for The Next Web, to talk about this year’s offering.Wytze de Haan went to The Hague's Hotel School hospitality industry college; he was no ‘techie’ or ‘geek’ by nature. But then in 2011 he met serial entrepreneurs Patrick de Laive and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, the founders of The Next Web, and pivoted, as they like to say in Start-up Land.For the last ten years The Next Web has had a conference in Amsterdam and this is its original home:‘Amsterdam has everything, all the shareholders, creativity and working parts to make it a hub of innovation,' says De Haan. 'There’s great access to resources and with tech giants like Google and Uber having their European...  More >

Amsterdam's EYE celebrates punk

Forty years on, Amsterdam’s EYE film venue celebrates punk It’s 40 years ago that punk first burst upon the public imagination and left its indelible mark on pop culture. The music, artists and, most of all, the attitude are celebrated later this month in a special programme of events at the EYE cinema in Amsterdam. Esther O’Toole finds out more.Lead programmer Ronald Simons freely admits that he didn’t know much about punk until a few months ago when, together with fellow programmer Anna Abrahams, they set out to devise FURY! Punk Culture for the EYE.‘To begin with we asked ourselves is there a punk film movement?’ said Simons. ‘Our starting point was not the music but the films.’ They soon discovered that, like anything prefaced with ‘hippie’ in the years prior to punk, there were various movements within the movement and many different interpretations of the term.‘Even today it’s difficult to say what punk is and the EYE doesn’t want to try and define it for audiences, but we will be asking every guest...  More >

'With euthanasia, you can say goodbye'

‘With euthanasia, you can say goodbye and it can be a loving memory’ Chronic depression, tired of life, dementia… an Amsterdam conference discusses controversial reasons for euthanasia as Dutch cases rise 75% in five years, writes Senay BoztasThe woman had a three year old daughter, and was just 34 years old. But after years of suffering with a personality disorder, PTSD and chronic depression, she didn't want to live any more.Because she was in the Netherlands, this woman did not commit suicide. Instead, she said goodbye to her loved ones and prepared a memorial for her daughter to open when she was older. Her euthanasia was administered by psychiatrist Paulan Stärcke at the End-of-Life clinic in The Hague.‘I interviewed her parents the year after her death,’ says Stärcke. ‘They expressed gratitude that her life could end this way and not in a violent one. The contact between the father and [child’s] grandparents was repaired in the process of the euthanasia. They were sure, and I was as well, that her mother would die by suicide...  More >