Live and Work in the Netherlands as a Startup Entrepreneur

Live and Work in the Netherlands as a Startup Entrepreneur

One of the keys to a successful startup is great leadership, but so often entrepreneurs can be bogged down by the grind of day-to-day business that they miss out on opportunities to reflect, listen, and connect with what makes them passionate about their work.


What if you could pair the launch of your startup with deliberate leadership learning? How would you and your business be different if you took the time to develop your own leadership style? What would it mean for you to belong to a community of leaders across diverse sectors who have your back?


What if you could experience all this in one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial cities on the globe?


How the Startup Visa Works

THNK School of Creative Leadership offers an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to launch their business in the Netherlands. Individuals who complete the THNK Executive Leadership Program will meet the majority of eligibility conditions for a Dutch ‘startup visa’ that would allow them to incubate their project in the vibrant entrepreneur-friendly city of Amsterdam. Backed by an experienced mentor like THNK, the scheme for startups gives ambitious entrepreneurs a year to launch an innovative business anywhere in the Netherlands.

In addition to project-incubation, entrepreneurs participating in the Executive Program will grow their own leadership ability, learn innovation tools, and join a global network of socially minded alumni.

The requirements for the Startup Visa Program are:

  • First participate in the THNK Executive Leadership Program. In order to be eligible for the Leadership program, you must have 8-10 years of leadership experience and be in the “driver’s seat” of an impactful project or organization. Read more about THNK’s admissions criteria on our program page.
  • The product or the service is innovative.
  • The startup entrepreneur has a step-by-step plan in order to move from idea to business.
  • The startup entrepreneur is registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce.
  • There are sufficient financial means to be able to reside and live in the Netherlands (a minimum of 13,000 euros in your bank account).
You can read more about the Startup Visa Program and specific requirements here.

Discover more about the Startup Visa Program by watching this video

A Startup is Born

Unlike other programs, THNK focusses on a combination of leadership development and enterprise development. No lectures. No classrooms. No tests. THNK’S program is built on a learning-by-doing approach allowing participants to create immediate, measurable and lasting impact on their enterprise, their team and the world.

Amir Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh is the first THNK Executive Leadership Program participant to receive a startup visa. Amir and his co-founder Mohamed Hamdy met for the first time as participants in the program in 2016. Together they launched their platform Virtuleap to empower youth and indie teams to get involved in virtual reality. “We want you to be the vanguard of deciding how emergent, immersive, technology like virtual reality takes shape.” Amir and Mohamed have rallied together over a dozen technology and launch partners for an inaugural round of experimental concepts for WebVR.

Amir Bozorgzadeh
Amir Bozorgzadeh
"At THNK I met my co-founder and we developed our company Virtuleap as part of the program, using the THNK tools and support. The StartUp Visa that I obtained through THNK gives us the opportunity to start our company in the inspiring and innovative environment of Amsterdam."

Why Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a long history of collaboration and innovation. The city’s business and social ecosystems are defined by a set of shared principles: diversity, openness, pragmatism and agility. As a result, the Amsterdam Area is able to quickly translate innovative solutions into practice.

In 2016, Amsterdam was crowned European Capital of Innovation in the annual iCapital competition, organized by the European Commission. A panel of independent experts judged the nine finalist cities based on four key areas of urban living impacted by innovation: governance, economics, social inclusion, and quality of life. Facing tough competition, Amsterdam came out on top and was praised for its healthy start-up climate and sharing economy resulting from a bottom-up approach based on smart growth, startups, liveability and digital social innovation.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

“Amsterdam fully deserves to be our European Capital of Innovation for its holistic vision of innovation in and for the city. But the competition was very tough and the outstanding achievements of the all nine shortlisted cities are an inspiration to others. They are shining examples of how cities can put innovation to work to improve the way people live and businesses work.”

As the birthplace of THNK, our roots are deep in Amsterdam. THNK was founded as a joint initiative by business and creative sectors, and in cooperation with the Dutch Prime Minister and the Dutch Innovation Platform. Recognizing our home as the European Capital of Innovation is an honor and and inspiration to continue breaking new ground.

What better place to launch your startup?

To discover how the Executive Leadership Program can help you envision your own enterprise and launch your startup in the Netherlands, visit the program page.