New NOM manager Marco de Jong looks through entrepreneurial glasses

New NOM manager Marco de Jong looks through entrepreneurial glasses

And then suddenly there was this LinkedIn message in January that surprised many people. The free-spirited entrepreneur from the Groningen Internet bubble Marco de Jong is now working as Investment Manager at NOM. He himself thinks the move is actually quite logical.

So, are you getting used to all these meetings?

'Well, it's more than I was used to, but it's also interesting. I really mean it. Your question implies that everything at NOM is a bit official, with office hours and so on. To be honest, I had that impression at one time. Of course it is not a fast-paced, young startup environment. But there are people here who know what they are talking about and what they are doing it for. And it's not at all as big, massive and not very agile as I expected.'

But you already knew it pretty well, right?

'In recent years I was manager of investment fund G-Force Capital, which falls under the Investment Fund Groningen. Its back office was already housed at NOM, so I already came here regularly. That became even more so when I discovered that you can do your work here in a pleasant atmosphere. At some point I even got a company card. Back then I always parked my car in front of the building, since January 1 it's been at the back. Relations from my long IT days joke about it, but when I explain to them how it really is, why I wanted to work here so badly, they get it.'

So what do you tell them?

'That we can get things moving from NOM. We can add dynamism to the Northern economy, stimulate entrepreneurship. We are there to help the whole thing move forward, not to make money as an end but as a means. I had been looking for some time for ways to strengthen the business community in the North. I am convinced that I can do that best from this place. Apart from that: I love being among colleagues again. Leading and being led again also feels very natural. And those vacation days .... Wow. That's pretty nice, too.'

You involve a lot of people in your new task at least ...

'You're referring to my call on LinkedIn for ideas, complaints, ambitions and dreams. So, a lot has come in there. That's been really good. It forces me to think better about how the economy is actually structured here, where opportunities lie and what the challenges are. In my career, of course, I've been involved a lot with IT, with data. That's kind of how I fly this early days as well. First I want to collect all the data and get it in order, so that I have a good overview of what is going on in the Northern Netherlands. That is essential in order to be able to work in a focused way on improvement.'

Are you going to do things very differently?

Marco De Jong'I wasn't hired for nothing of course, I have my own ideas. For my taste, in terms of culture and structure, NOM is a little too focused on risk exclusion. That is also understandable, because we work with public money. Still, I think we should work more from the opportunities that exist. Higher highs and deeper lows so to speak. I think that is the best way to move the whole economy forward. We are there to help make opportunities come true, even if they may not always seem promising according to all the tick boxes on paper. That doesn't mean we have to be reckless, of course. You can manage risks very well by constantly keeping your finger on the pulse and really standing beside an entrepreneur'.

How do you convince the organization of this mission?

'By saying it's my fault if things don't work out later. That sounds like a joke, but there is something to it. I want to make the process a little less complicated and risk-averse, and logically, people sometimes look at that with suspicion. I'm happy to listen to that. But I want to help entrepreneurs faster and use the hefty array of checks effectively. Everyone needs to have confidence in that. It can be done with a little more guts. Certainly startups require a more Silicon Valley approach. Not everything always works out, but the gems are more likely to surface and make up for more than the losses at the other end.'

Are you going to throw money around?

'To top entrepreneurs with top plans for sure! But seriously, it's not even always about that. I mainly want to listen to entrepreneurs and businesses. What do they need, how can we help? That can be some form of funding, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes entrepreneurs need more knowledge, connection, housing, all kinds of things. We just have to start asking for that. I think it helps that I was 'on that side of the table' for a very long time myself and therefore understand what entrepreneurs need.

Learned much already those first few weeks?

'This is also an ongoing development for me. In the digital bubble and startup world, I knew my way around very well. Now I am forced to look wider, to get into a helicopter, as it were, and hover above the entire Northern Netherlands economy. So naturally I come across new things on an ongoing basis. I see that at NOM we have to decide on investments in very diverse companies. I see a lot in bringing in expertise from outside a bit more often to help those companies even better.'

Enough things you can expend your energy in?

'Absolutely. There is plenty to do. I want to get involved in connecting ecosystems so that beautiful crossovers arise. Digital and Health, for example, or Digital and Tech. All sorts of things are possible. But I also want to look with a keen eye at opportunities to invest together with other parties. With investment clubs, with Venture Capital and Private Equity parties, whatever is good for the North. The incubator facilities also deserve our support, I think.'

Finally, will you keep us informed via LinkedIn?

'That's for sure. I think my job is to keep calling out what we do and what we do it all for. For the North.'

Do you need funding?

Answer 4 simple questions to quickly find out if you may qualify for funding by NOM.

Do the funding check