Thomas van den Boezem - Senior Associate
During my BSc. Health & Society program at WUR I started my own company, BoxBites. We offered consumers a subscription on tasty, healthy and fun snack brands. The idea was born out of frustration with the lack of appealing, healthy snacks in retail at that time. With a friend, who studied Communication Science in Wageningen, we offered a solution directly applying what we learned in our study programs in the most direct was possible. We were off to a great start but there was also lots to learn still. That’s when I started my MSc. Management, Economics & Consumer Studies program, with the specialized Entrepreneurship track. Having been exposed to the startup life in Wageningen, WUR was the logical place to continue the MSc.
Since you graduated, what kind of jobs did you have?
My MSc. journey is quite atypical. Soon after starting I was offered an internship position at InnoLeaps, a boutique consulting firm for corporate innovation, in Amsterdam. When the internship finished I kept working there while completing the rest of the MSc program. After graduation I took a full-time job at StartLife, first as program manager and later as program director. Here I built a support program for Agri-FoodTech startups, many of which from Wageningen. Realizing the critical role that investors have in supporting startups and innovation to drive impact, I tilted towards that side and took a first Venture Capital job as Investment Analyst in Amsterdam in 2018. This was at Innovation Industries, one of the premier high-tech venture capital firms in The Netherlands. With my specific Agri-Food background, I later worked as Investment Manager at EIT Food, an EU funded consortium of industry and academia, leading investments in young startups all across Europe. Last year I started as Senior Associate at PeakBridge, a global Venture Capital firm focused 100% on FoodTech. The great thing is that we are actively working with StartLife and looking for promising technology startups from Wageningen – as well as the rest of the world.
What is your current job? And how relates that to your study at Wageningen?
“Both my BSc and MSc degree have been a fantastic academic education to support me across the various roles, including the current one. Working in a very analytical manner with a deep understanding of the interplay of food, industry and health is critical to my current work. I really feel that my educational journey is perfectly addressing those success factors. Wageningen is known throughout the startup and venture capital community as one of the best places in the world for foodtech innovation, so I couldn’t have had this educational journey in a better place.”
What are your future goals?
“The great thing about venture capital is that there is unlimited potential for personal and professional growth. The field is incredibly diverse, fast-changing and engaging. For the foreseeable future I will most certainly be happy in this field of work. As my entrepreneurial spark was ignited once with my own startup and never really went out, it might be that I will start a venture of my own again one day. Having invested in dozens of other startups however I also know many stars need to align for the right opportunity.”
How was studying/living in Wageningen for you?
“I have lived in Wageningen for almost ten years, and even while I now live in Utrecht in many ways it still feels like coming home when I visit the campus again. It has been such a comfortable, inspiring and beautiful place to live. Cycling to the campus and to work made it even more enjoyable.”