More than just a beautiful city

Amsterdam is not only a beautiful city honored by millions of tourists who come here for sightseeing and canal cruising every year but also home to many companies of any size. In the Dutch capital you can find enterprise headquarters of Shell and KLM as well as successful startups such as

The Dutch have in general a well-developed entrepreneurial mindset and are well known for their negotiation skills. Their whole nation is built on the shoulders of salesman and merchants. The Amsterdam-based startup Catawiki (no that’s not a wikipedia for cat content, watch the “a” in the middle!) is fostering this mindset and by itself a perfect example of the trading country at the North Sea.


Success powered by Napoleon

Catawiki, founded by René Schoenmakers and Marco Jansen in 2008, is Europe’s largest online auction house for special items. The website’s name is a mashup of “catalog” and “wiki” because it began as a community for collectors to organize their items. Today they focus on auctions of exceptional objects ranging from comic to classic cars or precious jewelry. If that is too boring, you could also bid on shark’s teeth or a dinosaur’s horn. One of the most expensive things sold on Catawiki was a 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster for €165,000, while one of the oddest were locks of Napoleon’s hair (not kidding).

They are hosting 100 auctions every week covering 60 different categories. With 25,000 items sold per week, Catawiki is the biggest website for buying and selling special objects. The booming Dutch startup has 200 employees in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Great Britain serving 400,000 registered users worldwide. Their website is reaching out to a massive international audience of 12 million visitors per month. These numbers are already quite impressive, aren’t they?

So it’s no surprise that the startup headquartered in the Netherlands calls itself Europe’s fastest-growing online auction house on its website.


Fastest growing startup of EMEA

The renominated consultancy company Deloitte went even one step further by calling Catawiki the fastest growing startup of the whole EMEA area (Europe, Middle-East & Africa). The Dutch online auction startup tops their Technology Fast 500 ranking, which is now in its 15th year. Deloitte Global’s annual ranking includes the top 500 most growing companies — large, small, public, and private — across a variety of industries. The list contains startups in the fields of software, hardware, communications, media, life sciences and clean technology.


Logo Technology Fast 500 ranking (Source: Screenshot Deloitte website)

This year, software was the most represented sector with an increased share of 52%, up from 47% in 2014. The rankings, which cover over 20 countries of the EMEA region, were dominated by France again with the most entries for the sixth consecutive year. Two Top 5 startups are from Israel which has a very strong and rising startup scene. The UK is also featuring four entries of the Top 10 fastest growing companies. But the list’s top spot among the region’s 500 fastest growing companies is held by the Dutch online auction house Catawiki.


Record growth rates

The growth rates for the 2015 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA program ranged from 0.2% to a phenomenal 45% over the past four years from its winner, Catawiki. Despite program criteria changes, the Dutch company achieved a record growth in revenue, which is far above the ranking’s average of 1.012%.

The Amsterdam-headquartered startup benefited especially from the raising of €75 million from a group of investors led by Lead Edge Capital (which has also invested in Alibaba and BlaBlaCar) this summer. The investment is one of the largest in a Dutch startup ever and followed by a period of immense growth where Catawiki’s revenues increased by 300%.


Modestly expanding

“Our hyper growth comes from our 300 talented employees,” said Catawiki’s René Schoenmakers in a recent interview. “Everyone has his or her own unique qualities and knows how to use them as part of the team. We find that hiring the right people makes all the difference. In the next couple of months we plan to recruit 100 great software developers from all over the world to work in Amsterdam.”


René Schoenmakers and Marco Jansen, founders of Catwiki (Source: Catawiki)

However, it seems as if the startup itself is not trusting in Deloitte’s judging criteria: On its corporate website and also in press releases Catawiki is still calling itself “Europe’s fastest-growing online auction house”.

Applause for Catawiki! Do you know any other Dutch startups whose success stories you want to read in our blog?