Withlocals is an online marketplace where locals offers paid services to travellers. The innovative success formula is based on the concept of a new sharing economy. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) assisted Withlocals with getting support from Horizon 2020’s SME instrument.
"Our mission is to connect people and cultures via culinary and unique, personal experiences," says Mike Beunder, responsible for grant applications and former director of Withlocals. "Passionate locals offer experiences and skills to travellers through the site. Travellers enter a location and date in the search engine and get a list of locals who offer culinary and other activities or personal experiences."
A sustainable sharing economy for the local population and travellers
The idea behind Withlocals was born in the Greenhouse Group in 2014. Beunder: "The Greenhouse Group is a modern company that challenges its employees to come up with new ideas and has them try things out. We use online technology to connect people and exchange knowledge and money in a new way. We are therefore not only changing the future of travelling and eating out, but at the same time creating a sustainable sharing economy."
Opportunities via Horizon 2020
Withlocals, a startup financed with venture capital, was searching for a grant to expand the project further. Beunder had previously met advisors from RVO.nl: "An enjoyable organisation to work with. They are effective, know what they are talking about, help you search for opportunities and offer excellent support. Because of our new business model, we were pointed in the direction of Horizon 2020’s SME instrument."
Instructive for all parties concerned
"Getting a Horizon 2020 grant involves a lot of work. It’s not something you start on without preparation. You need to deliver quality in all areas. We called on the help of a consultancy firm known for delivering results, and with great success!. However, don’t just count or depend on the grant. Now, we share our experiences and best practices with similar companies via RVO.nl. This is instructive for all parties."
With respect to Horizon 2020, the goal of Withlocals is to mediate in 18 European cities. Beunder: "It has taken a little longer than planned, but we are almost there. At the same time, we are working on a new roll-out of products. As a data-driven company, we create new products based on the data we have on users and suppliers. For an increasing number of cities, we are getting a better understanding of what our target group is looking for. Through Withlocals Originals, we offer specific programmes that people can further personalise themselves."
Special SME instrument in Horizon 2020
The SME instrument of Horizon 2020 is intended for innovative, internationally-oriented, small and medium-sized companies with a desire to grow. The instrument supports new market exploration (phase 1: lump sum subsidy of €50,000) and activities to get the innovation ready for its market introduction (e.g. demonstration projects, upscaling). RVO.nl’s Team IRIS provides information and feedback on project proposals from Dutch SMEs.