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The Netherlands is eager to become the number 1 startup country in the world. How to do this if the new generation does not get the chance to get their innovations off the attic room.


LABNEST Founder Director Valerie van Zuijlen (27) sees that many young starting entrepreneurs lack an environment that is necessary to achieve a real market introduction. According to her, the problem for this is not because the idea does not appear promising enough, but because there is a lack of resources to develop it further. “The follow-up of a great idea that was conceived during a study, for example, often turns out to be left on the attic shelf in practice. The manual for the transition from idea to drawing up a concrete business plan and validation to viability is missing. Let alone having a solid network and incurring costs to further develop the idea, turns out to be a big black hole for starting entrepreneurs. Even if the idea is so unique, innovative or solution-driven,” says van Zuijlen.

LABNEST calls on the starting entrepreneur to get out of that attic room and take the stage. A hard requirement of LABNEST is that it must be an innovative initiative that makes the world a little more beautiful. This can be an elaborated idea, but it can also be in the startup phase. LABNEST has a network of investors, specialists and advisors to validate the viability of the startup ideas. The aim is to get young entrepreneurs with promising ideas out of the gray area where the entrepreneurial climate in the Netherlands is faltering. They get the opportunity to develop their idea into a successful startup and to achieve the first so-called pre-seed investment round.

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LABNEST was founded in 2021 and is the business child of creative multitalented Valerie van Zuijlen (27). The worldly but born Edese is a designer, filmmaker and art director in one. Van Zuijlen immersed himself in computer science and electrical engineering (Stanford University), video game studies (Hong Kong University), simultaneously followed the masters Film, Design & Politics (Sandberg Institute) and Cinema Studies (New York University Tisch) on both sides of the ocean. ). 


And now Van Zuijlen is writing her own business adventure. “When I studied in the United States, I noticed that so much energy is released in an environment with young, ambitious people. But you can come up with the coolest ideas together, without a network and investors you usually don't get further than the back of a beer mat. That's why I set up Labnest.” 


From films and art to business? According to van Zuijlen it is a small step, in which her creative, multidisciplinary background is an added value. Van Zuijlen's work has been presented internationally and has been awarded several titles. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and Valedictorian. In addition to directing LABNEST, Van Zuijlen is currently working on obtaining her own helicopter license, flying and making her own FPV drones and producing and directing a plausible science fiction TV series. 

Dreaming, that's what Valerie does too. Her dream? Five Labnest locations throughout the Netherlands. Ecosystems where not only young entrepreneurs and start-ups work on their dreams, but also education, government and business come together and where events are regularly held. With the mission: “I look for start-ups that want to make an impact. Who think again, do things in a different way. You don't always have to aim for the moon, but it's cool when you start making some impact on the world."