Issue, send, and manage invoices
with no limits
Create contracts in a matter of minutes and e-sign them
Maintain control of your
company's finances
E-sign documents easily using dozens of methods
AI contract review
Get a structured contract review in 2 minutes
All you need in one subscription
starting from
/ mo
Incorporation in Estonia
Open your Estonian company
with ease on Enty
Accounting in the Netherlands
Accounting in Estonia
Take care of all accounting reports for your Dutch company
Take care of all accounting reports for your Estonian company
Useful articles and guides on
managing your company
Become an affiliate
Fruitful affiliate program with
bonuses for each party
Enty HUB
Explore our clients, partner with
them, and get discounts
Invite a friend
Recommend Enty to your friends
and receive bonuses
I’m super happy with Enty!
Months before we started a company, we’d already been in touch with our future Enty account manager. Support is super nice and responsive. Keep up the good work Enty!
Andreas Reuter
Useful business glossary to help you
Get special discounts from our
35+ top partners
Enty’s Gift card
Give away Enty to your partners
on any holiday

Thom Wernke

the journey by enty
CEO and co-founder of StartDock
A networking club for entrepreneurs: the story of Thom Wernke and StartDock
Business is not only about money and paperwork. Most of all, it’s about people, inspiration, and passion. With that in mind, we present you the Journey — a project where entrepreneurs share how they started their businesses, what made them successful, what drives them, and how they came up with what they ended up doing.

Our today’s guest is Thom, the CEO and co-founder of StartDock — a community-driven coworking space and a networking club that brings together entrepreneurs on their journey of building a successful business.
We envisioned a place in the heart of Amsterdam where like-minded people could work, network, and grow together

Creating the concept

The idea for StartDock was born in 2015. At the time, my business partner Johan and I were running an IT company called Databazen. We met each other through university and started this venture while studying in Amsterdam. During our studies, we also got to know three other guys who were running their own startup. We were all still learning the ropes of managing a business back then.

At a certain point, we realized the need to move our businesses to a proper office space. We wanted it to be located somewhere in the center of Amsterdam.
However, all the office spaces we could find were either too expensive or required signing long lease contracts. As starting entrepreneurs, we couldn’t commit to something like that long-term. We just didn’t have that kind of money.
It was clear that we weren’t the only people in Amsterdam confronted with this issue. Plenty of businesses like us probably had the same problem going on. So we thought: OK, how can we solve this problem for ourselves or whoever?
We tried to determine what an optimal office environment for a starting business should look like. Lease price is typically a decisive factor for young startups, so we figured a coworking space was more appealing than a full-out private office. As five aspiring founders with limited knowledge of running a business, we were also eager to hang around other entrepreneurs and learn from them. So it occurred to us: rather than being a coworking space in the traditional sense, this place should also act as a networking club for entrepreneurs.
You see, at that time we were all seeking guidance from people who could teach us a thing or two about managing a business. We were jumping at every opportunity for networking and believed that other startups were the same in that regard. The idea was to broaden our own network while also fostering an environment where other entrepreneurs could build connections. We envisioned a place in the heart of Amsterdam where like-minded people could work, network, and leverage the power of collaboration. So that’s what we set out to create.

Building up the audience and testing out the waters

One thing we did that I consider quite thoughtful of us when looking back was measuring the demand for our concept before taking chances with it. We didn’t want to bank on something that wouldn't necessarily work out, so before opening our first location we decided to make sure there was a customer base for it.

First location on the Herengracht
Rather than diving headfirst into the venture, we created letters of intent and approached a few entrepreneurs in Amsterdam that we viewed as potential customers. We told them about the vision we had for this place and what the pricing would be. To our delight, pretty soon we received 15 signed letters of intent. So we knew for sure there was a demand for this business before even signing the lease contract for our first location.

Over the years I’ve seen many startups go in blind with no prior research and fail, so I’m glad we were cautious enough to do it the other way around. I think they mention this rule in books that teach entrepreneurship. Make certain there is an actual market for your business before you start building it. Might be obvious to some, but plenty of people forget about this step nevertheless.
This strategy of securing customers beforehand has proven invaluable for us in the long run. We never experience problems with demand for our workplaces because we make sure there will be enough customers long before opening a new location.

From five people to a community of thousands

StartDock has grown significantly since its inception in 2015. We started with a single coworking space on the Herengracht canal in the center of Amsterdam. We have opened five more locations in the Netherlands since then, but the original building still has a lot of nostalgia about it and holds a special place in my heart.
Our community has grown to include over 800 companies and more than 14000 members across all locations. We view each location as a separate ecosystem where entrepreneurs can connect, find new friends and potential business partners, and grow together.
Each location offers a range of activities and events catering to the interests of community members. These events are typically organized by our community managers. Some of the events are purely social, others focus on professional development. The most popular among the latter are CEO talks and founders' meetups, an event where entrepreneurs come together to talk about challenges they encounter in their businesses and seek advice from peers.
As part of our commitment to supporting startups, we also organize investment rounds called "Pitch for Capital." These events bring together investors and promising startups in a more informal setting. We organize them once per quarter. The goal is to facilitate connections and provide starting entrepreneurs with potential investment opportunities. Like a Dragons’ Den type of event.
It’s great that we have this platform where young founders get the opportunity to showcase their projects. Even if they don't manage to secure funding, they still get the chance to hear some feedback on what they’re doing and learn from experienced people in the field. I also think it’s a great way to connect with people who could become advisors for your business. Actually, that’s something any starting founder should have on their to-do list. Having a good mentor can have a huge impact on your entrepreneurial journey.

Looking ahead

I’m really excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for StartDock. We’ve just opened a new location in Amsterdam, so currently we have four locations there and one in Rotterdam. Our focus for the next year is to expand our presence in Rotterdam. We might also open a location in Utrecht some time soon.
New location in Amsterdam
The Dutch market is relatively small on a global scale, but it’s still a big market for us. I’ve been watching this industry evolve rapidly year after year and it’s still growing towards maturity. There’s more than enough room to grow this business within the Netherlands in my opinion. I don’t think we’re there yet. So our plan is just to continue expanding steadily.
We have been on this adventure for eight years now. Three founding members who helped me and Johan start this company hopped off in the last couple of years, but the philosophy with which we approach this startup and our core values have stayed the same. We remain committed to our mission of providing an inspiring environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and supporting the community.

Thank you for reading Thom’s story, hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you are looking to share your story, please leave us the form below and we will contact you back. Cheers!