Kickstart for entrepreneurs with disabilities

A group of disabled entrepreneurs attended the ‘Startup Kickstart’ event organized by the Bart de Graaff Foundation, Onbeperkt aan de Slag, and KPN Liaison, during the Support fair in the Utrecht Jaarbeurs on 16 June. They are joining forces to make the labor market more inclusive for people with disabilities. Currently, only 46% of disabled people are active in the labor market and less than 20% of employers take on people with a disability. That must change.

The kickstart was jam-packed with opportunities for entrepreneurs wanting to make a big success of their business. For example, there was a Dragon’s Den for starting entrepreneurs where they made a pitch to the Dragons with the aim of raising capital for their business. There were 11 organizations present, including the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Rabobank, Bolster Investment Group, and KPN itself. During speed dates, more experienced entrepreneurs were able to ask the participating partners questions and explore possible collaborations with corporates.

Marie-José van den Boomgaard, Liaison Manager startups & scaleups at KPN: “At KPN Liaison Management we believe it is important that all entrepreneurs are given a chance and that entrepreneurship is also stimulated among this group. The ‘bikkels’ (tough guys), as these entrepreneurs are known, have shown that a disability, such as being blind or deaf, need not affect your entrepreneurial skills and need not stand in the way of your dreams.”

Entrepreneur Jelte Boersma about Startup Kickstart: “I have been running a business with special and personalized wooden products for 1.5 years now. Thinking up, designing and making something creative, I can do that! But how do you ‘market’ that? That’s why I participated in the network meeting during the Startup Kickstart event at the Support fair. This was a valuable event for my business because I met companies and other entrepreneurs and together we came up with ideas that I am very excited about. I hope, therefore, that this special day will lead to some great collaborations!”

Kickstart event Dragons Den

KPN Liaison Management
At KPN we believe in open innovation to make an impact in a rapidly changing world. In cooperation with innovative stakeholders, in order to stay ahead. Where traditional suppliers and partners are not enough, the Liaison Management team looks for the best new stakeholders in the market. This can be Startups and Scaleups, but also larger stakeholders that are not yet on the radar. By working with them, we’re accelerating the development of valuable ideas.

KPN Liaison Management Scaleups is the team that devotes itself on a daily basis to startups and scaleups. The team finds challenges within KPN and then looks for the most suitable innovative company with which to enter into a structural partnership and consequently to innovate within KPN. Well-known examples are the recurring events Scaleup Afternoon and KPN’s Circus, in which large international non-competing telecom companies are brought into contact with innovators. This has already led on dozens of occasions to capital injections and partnerships between corporates and startups.

Almost 300 partnerships between KPN and startups and scaleups have been set up in the past six years. For instance, in the field of 5G and the rollout of fiber, as well as in many other domains.