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Entrepreneurs from the 250 fastest growing companies of the Netherlands gathered to discuss challenges and obstacles on the road to success at the growth company event at the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship on 6 October 2022. In an intimate setting, professors Justin Jansen and Tom Mom of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) highlighted the latest growth statistics of the Dutch SME landscape and answered questions from the attending entrepreneurs. 

Prof. Jansen confirmed that the entrepreneurs can be proud to have performed this well against the backdrop of a pandemic as only 52 per cent of SME companies having grown at all this past year. 

Scaleup dashboard 2021

The Dutch scaleup ecosystem has been hit hard in the past year. The number of fast-growing companies has decreased by more than 10 percent. Especially 'more mature' fast-growing companies, which were on the verge of an international breakthrough, have declined even more. Despite the current upturn in the Dutch economy, this decline may have a lasting negative effect. This is apparent from the ScaleUp Dashboard 2021

“These companies are progressive in developing new solutions and also able to manage the high growth of their organisation. They do this by continuously improving, accelerating and adapting the organisation to future challenges.”

– Prof. Justin Jansen, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

Prof. Jansen said that companies are like relationships; after seven years, a lot of them lose their growth. To make sure this doesn’t happen, entrepreneurs should be busy with growth and excellence today while also making sure that the necessary competencies are on board to thrive tomorrow. 

It’s all about people

A star line-up of key note speakers inspired the attending entrepreneurs with their insights.

Ali Niknam of Bunq Bank advised the attendees to automate as much as possible but that the ultimate challenge always is and always will be hiring the right person for the job. 

Michiel Muller of Picnic confirmed that scaling up is all about people. Maintaining the culture while you grow so rapidly is not easy. He said to remain in contact with each other and the keep teams small. 

The ‘people aspect’ is really important to Sharon Hilgers of My Jewellery too. She says she listens to the ideas of her team and even interns. That open atmosphere creates room for creativity. 

Jitse Groen, CEO of, emphasized the importance of a good organisational structure and the right people in it. “Please focus on the good decisions you have made that led you here, not the failures. And making good decisions also mean that you decide between plan A or Plan B. Don’t come up with Plan C that combines the two, because that plan sucks.” 

Golden Grower 2021

At the end of the event, the fifth Golden Growth Award 2021 was awarded to digital production agency Media.Monks, making it the fastest growing company in the Netherlands. The award, an initiative of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship and nlgroeit, was presented by Jitse Groen to Victor Knaap, CEO and co-founder of Media.Monks. The winner has grown by 2,300 jobs (in FTE) in the period from the end of 2017 to the end of 2020 and may therefore call itself the fastest growing company in the Netherlands. 

Three additional awards

In addition to the presentation of the Golden Growth Award 2021, three other entrepreneurs have been put in the limelight. My Jewellery is the fastest growing Dutch company with a woman at the helm. CEO Sharon Hilgers received the Female Grower Award for this. Sam Rohn, CEO of Red je Pakketje (started in 2016) has been named Young Grower 2021. 

For the category Impactful Grower 2021 a jury was formed to select a worthy recipient. Greet Prins(Chairman of the Board of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, KVK), Pieter Waasdorp (Director of Entrepreneurship at the Dutch Ministry of Economics) and Ed Brinksma (Chairman of the Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam) named cattle feed company Protix with founder and CEO Kees Aarts as the Most Impactful Grower.


More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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Justin Jansen , Tom Mom