Interview with Joris Kil, Investment Manager at Rotterdam Port Fund

Joris Kil, former FSR treasurer, and Erasmus student, currently works for Rotterdam Port Fund (RPF). RPF is a private equity firm specialized in funding sustainable start-ups in the port sector and therefore closely related to the city of Rotterdam. In this interview, we dive deeper into Joris his personal career and the RPF.

Joris Kil

After finishing high school in Tilburg, Joris moved to Rotterdam to start a bachelor in International Business Administration. During the bachelor, Joris already focused on the Finance courses, and after finishing his bachelor’s, he started a master’s in Financial Economics at the ESE. It was here, he gained an interest in behavioral finance. In his ambition to learn more about the subject, a PhD was the logical next step. He specialized in the psychology of CEO’s during M&A’s. To this day, Joris is active at the ESE where he supervises theses on the same topic as his PhD. While doing his PhD, Joris already started to wonder how the topics he researched would apply in real life. He got to experience this first hand at Deloitte, where he joined the consultancy sector focusing on M&A’s. During the due diligence process, he would learn a lot about how different industries operate. Joris would become an expert in an industry in a short time. Throughout his time at Deloitte, the Maritime sector would be a reoccurring industry. It appealed to Joris how this sector related to the beautiful city of Rotterdam. When encountering an article about RPF in the ‘Financieel Dagblad’, Joris contacted one of the owners with whom he used to play field hockey back in the days. They sat down for a coffee, and months later they contacted Joris when a position opened up. Here, Joris could apply his operation skills, maritime sector knowledge and passion for Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Port Fund

Rotterdam Port Fund was founded at the end of 2016. It started as an initiative by the ‘port of Rotterdam’, NIBC banks, InnovationQuarter and Koninklijke Doeksen, in combination with entrepreneurs Peter Goedvolk and Luc Braams. Before the founding of RPF, start-ups would come to the ‘port of Rotterdam’ for financing. The ‘port of Rotterdam’, had limited resources for this demand and RPF now fills this specialized need. The fund gives investors the opportunity to shape “the port economy of the future” and contribute to sustainability and durability while realizing their commercial goals. 

RPF is a stand-alone fund, focused on financing innovative & sustainable start-ups in the maritime sector. RPF contributes to the port sector by giving sustainable, durable and technology-driven firms that already have gathered some clients, the opportunity to grow further. 

RPF gathered around 50 million euros, and investments made range from 1 to 7 million. The themes commonly found in the start-ups are sustainability & circularity, ICT & digitalization, Safety & Maintenance in port sectors such as: Transportation & Logistics, Energy & Refinery, and Offshore & Maritime. Investing in these start-ups helps the Rotterdam Port to be the most innovative port of the world. Are you curious about the portfolio of RPF? Go to this website.

So how, does RPF find these start-ups? There are 3 main ways in which RPF comes in contact with potential investments:

  1. Start-ups come to RPF, in need of financing.
  2. Corporate finance advisors or other parties acting as a middle man contact RPF.
  3. Self-scouting, RPF is always looking for trends in the market. 

When a deal is made with a suitable start-up, the funding is done in stages. Certain milestones are set, and additional money is given when these milestones are met. RPF does not take full control of the start-ups and give them freedom. They have monthly meetings, where they assess how they can help the start-up. RPF can for instance help with their connections to the market.

Private Equity

Over the last 10 years, the amount of money available for investment by PE companies has grown drastically. RPF is a small and specialized boutique and therefore not influenced as much by this trend. As Joris explains, this trend is more related to bigger PE firms and the extent of its impact depends on in which phase of a company you invest. RPF invests in risky, early-phase companies where this trend is less seen. Furthermore, the start-up scene is growing, entrepreneurship in itself is a trend, and therefore supply is increasing which puts downward pressure on prices.

What Joris does notice however is a change in how start-ups value themselves. Due to the increasing amounts of money in PE, and the increasing deal values. Start-ups start to overestimate themselves when they hear or read news stories of a big buyout in America. Therefore there is a growing difference in the perception of value between the PE fund and the start-up. 

The future of RPF

2019 has been a good year for RPF. RPF made 3 investments, and this is the goal for 2020 as well. If these investments are made RPF will be close to the end of its initial fund and will come to the planned 10 to 15 investments. After this goal is achieved, it might even be time to look at a new fund.

Life at RPF

The average workweek at RPF varies a lot. There are 3 main tasks within the fund:

  1. Managing the fund: This includes keeping in touch and informing the investors.
  2. Deal sourcing: Looking for deals, executing deals.
  3. Portfolio management: Meeting with new start-ups.

Because RPF is a small boutique, everyone is involved in all 3 tasks. The variety at the workplace is one of the things Joris enjoys the most.

As an intern at RPF, you are involved in all the tasks and are invited to the meetings. RPF wants to leave interns with a real impression of what the work looks like. At RPF you are part of the team and do the same tasks as the team. RPF employs one intern every 6 months, If you are interested in being an intern at RPF go to

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