An interview with Lodewijk van Thiel, Senior Associate / Lawyer at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek
It is Wednesday morning around noon, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is waiting for me. Lodewijk van Thiel, having now worked at De Brauw for 3.5 years, is going to raise my sense of understanding why a corporate giant like De Brauw finds its match with social start-ups of Impact Hub Amsterdam‘s Investment Ready Program – an acceleration program focused on scalable green and clean-tech solutions.
Lodewijk van Thiel_DeBrauw

Lodewijk, why did you want to be part of the Investment Ready Program? Lodewijk, with a passionate eagerness to explain his story, replied: “Working with start-ups gives me the opportunity to be active in multiple areas. Our advice often reaches further than only legal issues, what stimulates me to think further than just the legal framework.”
Lodewijk shares that he always has had an interest for entrepreneurship. The Investment Ready Program seemed, and turned out to be, the perfect pro bono project for Lodewijk to combine his legal expertise with other personal interests. Lodewijk has offered his expertise to the participants of the Investment Ready Program for the second year in a row, and again with the same verve and enthusiasm.

“It is very inspiring to see how ambitious the entrepreneurs running the social start-ups are to make the difference they strive for.”

What stimulates you to continue your involvement with social start-ups? “Since many participants are quite out-of-the-know in the complex legal field, the smallest and broadest general advice is already of value and most of all very useful. Often, also still young, and with a remarkable entrepreneurial mindset, expressed through a lot of passion in their own work. That works contagiously. They are ready to conquer the world and do not see any obstacles. We help them with how to focus and structure the challenges they face. It is nice to see the direct effect our advice often generates. And, frankly, the program is, besides being useful for the participants, also quite interesting for me”, Lodewijk admits with a smile.
“It is very inspiring to see how ambitious the entrepreneurs running the social start-ups are to make the difference they strive for.”
So, as far as I understand, it’s the social entrepreneurs who are often working with communities and tackling problems that are more complex and deep-rooted than the entrepreneur him/herself can understand completely. Especially for these kind of activities, they are getting the help from larger companies and firms like De Brauw. De Brauw advises the social start-ups on matters in various areas such as corporate, contract, employment and data privacy law. Another partner of the Investment Ready Program is The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), who is mainly involved with the financial and strategic part. Lodewijk tells us that there is close collaboration with the BCG during the Investment Ready Program, so again there is definitely a joint effort; the social start-ups learn from partners, and the partners collaborate and learn from each other and the start-ups.
Lodewijk concludes: “For De Brauw it is important to advise on pro bono matters because we as lawyers are committed to a sense of justice. And it is with this sentiment that our firm stimulates colleagues to help non-profit organisations and start- ups that pursue a good cause.”

Still I wondered; by working closely with all these inspirational young entrepreneurs, aren’t you triggered to become an entrepreneur yourself?

Lodewijk: “Who knows, I do not rule out anything J!”.


Written by Babette Dol on behalf of Impact Hub Amsterdam.

It is Wednesday morning around noon, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is waiting for me. Lodewijk van Thiel, having now worked at De Brauw for 3.5 years, is going to raise my sense of understanding why a corporate giant like De Brauw finds its match with social start-ups of Impact Hub Amsterdam's Investment Ready Program - an acceleration program focused on scalable green and clean-tech solutions.   Lodewijk, why did you want to be part of the Investment Ready Program? Lodewijk, with a passionate eagerness to explain his story, replied: "Working with start-ups gives me the opportunity to be active in multiple areas. Our advice often reaches further than only legal issues, what stimulates me to think further than just the legal framework." Lodewijk shares that he always has had an interest for entrepreneurship. The Investment Ready Program seemed, and turned out to be, the perfect pro bono project for Lodewijk to combine his legal expertise with other personal interests. Lodewijk has offered his expertise to the participants of the Investment Ready Program for the second year in a row, and again with the same verve and enthusiasm.  What stimulates you to continue your involvement with social start-ups? "Since many participants are quite out-of-the-know in the complex legal field, the smallest and broadest general advice is already of value and most of all very useful. Often, also still young, and with a remarkable entrepreneurial mindset, expressed through a lot of passion in their own work. That works contagiously. They are ready to conquer the world and do not see any obstacles. We help them with how to focus and structure the challenges they face. It is nice to see the direct effect our advice often generates. And, frankly, the program is, besides being useful for the participants, also quite interesting for me", Lodewijk admits with a smile. "It is very inspiring to see how ambitious the entrepreneurs running the social start-ups are to make the difference they strive for."  So, as far as I understand, it's the social entrepreneurs who are often working with communities and tackling problems that are more complex and deep-rooted than the entrepreneur him/herself can understand completely. Especially for these kind of activities, they are getting the help from larger companies and firms like De Brauw. De Brauw advises the social start-ups on matters in various areas such as corporate, contract, employment and data privacy law. Another partner of the Investment Ready Program is The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), who is mainly involved with the financial and strategic part. Lodewijk tells us that there is close collaboration with the BCG during the Investment Ready Program, so again there is definitely a joint effort; the social start-ups learn from partners, and the partners collaborate and learn from each other and the start-ups. Lodewijk concludes: "For De Brauw it is important to advise on pro bono matters because we as lawyers are committed to a sense of justice. And it is with this sentiment that our firm stimulates colleagues to help non-profit organisations and start- ups that pursue a good cause."    Still I wondered; by working closely with all these inspirational young entrepreneurs, aren’t you triggered to become an entrepreneur yourself?   Lodewijk: "Who knows, I do not rule out anything ☺!".  Written by Babette Dol on behalf of Impact Hub Amsterdam.