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Matthijs  Visser

  • Programme: Financing the Entrepreneurial Business
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Job Post-programme: Business Development Manager, Alliander

Professional background

Matthijs began his career as a Portfolio Analyst for Dutch energy company, Nuon. Progressing rapidly to management level, he then joined Alliander as a Financial Specialist in M&A. Matthijs has an undergraduate degree from Delft University of Technology, and a Master’s degree from Erasmus in Rotterdam

Entrepreneurial insight

Financing the Entrepreneurial Business was recommended to me by a colleague who had previously attended a Corporate Finance programme at the School. At the time I started investigating study options we were both investing in start-up companies, so we ended up enrolling together. The course encompassed exactly the right content and was highly interactive. London Business School also had the strong global reputation I was looking for, and the campus location in central London meant good links to the City.

When I joined the programme, I was working as a senior finance specialist for Alliander, an energy distribution company in the Netherlands. I wanted a short course that would be highly applicable to my job - I was focused on M&A and regularly involved with start-ups. I make deal proposals to business owners who turn to us for investments, and I felt that gaining more insight into the entrepreneurial perspective would help me improve this skill. I also wanted to learn more about structuring investments for fast-growth businesses. Valuing this type of company is always difficult and I needed to be able to come up with proposals that would work both for the entrepreneur, and for our decision makers.

Relating theory to real-life business cases

One of the things that makes Financing the Entrepreneurial Business so effective is that the faculty do a great job of combining the course material with their own business experiences. The whole programme is very intense – the course runs over just one week and is packed with content from start to finish. We discussed actual deals in the classroom, and one particular phrase, used by the professor Martyn Williams on our last case, has really stuck with me: ‘If the deal is too cheap, you won’t get it!’ He was talking about how management are often overly optimistic about the willingness of the seller to offer cheap deals – the idea that the deal should be acceptable to all parties really struck a chord with me. Relating the theory from lectures to real cases brought everything to life in a way I hadn’t anticipated beforehand.

The skills I took away from the programme have been immediately applicable back at work, and the deal structuring tactics that Martyn taught have been particularly useful. I took away an entirely new toolkit. I can’t divulge actual deals, but the knowledge I gained about structuring investments has enabled me to provide the concrete value-add I wanted. I also have a wider organisational impact now – at Alliander we strive to be of additional value to the society we serve. By increasing the effort and knowledge that I bring to the table, I’m enabling the company to do business more effectively.

New directions

I’ve recently been promoted and Financing the Entrepreneurial Business has been a big part of this move. I’ve progressed from a strict finance specialism to a position as business development manager and I’ve also started two new companies. One is for Alliander in the area of sustainable development; the other is a small private company that sells subscriptions to baby strollers and car seats - its something I’m really excited about. Everything I learned as part of my London Business School experience has given me the hands-on knowledge and confidence to make this happen, empowering me to create new opportunities for myself and for my organisation.