The Antwerp success story of Playpass: from start-up to first international acquisition

The Antwerp start-up Playpass recently announced its first acquisition in France. Playpass is set to acquire Yuflow, a fellow industry member in contactless event payments. In Antwerp, Playpass was able to firmly anchor its business in StartupVillage, an initiative of the City of Antwerp where start-ups receive and seize all available opportunities.

Playpass, famous at festivals

Playpass is a software company, active in the events world. The company with Antwerp roots provides solutions for cashless payments, access checks and 'brand activation'. Playpass' smart wristband shortens queues at the festival box offices resulting in visitors spending up to 30 percent more, among other benefits. During Antwerp festivals such as Jazz Middelheim, Summerfestival and Laundry Day, festival goers wear these Playpass straps.

Antwerp, where else?!

Antwerp is the city where Playpass got its start, a conscious choice partner and CFO Ron Schuermans tells us: “The special thing about Antwerp is that it is a global village. It has the location, the history and the quality of a truly global city. But unlike cities such as New York, it also boasts the charm and interconnectedness of a village. Everybody knows each other. It is easy to get in touch with people, also among start-ups themselves. Our founders consciously chose to establish Playpass in Antwerp because there is an active ecosystem built around technology and development."

Ron Schuermans (CFO Playpass) Photo: ©Tom Cornille

StartupVillage as an international springboard

Playpass' head office is located in StartupVillage in Antwerp. In this building, start-ups can avail themselves of flexible rental contracts through affordable office space leases, right in the centre of town. In this way, the City of Antwerp wishes to support its start-ups and create breathing space to be able to grow and internationalize. StartupVillage currently houses seven starting entrepreneurs, who, just like Playpass, pursue their ambitions inside Antwerp and further afield.

20 countries, 5 continents

Basing from StartupVillage, in six years time, Playpass has turned out to be one of the most promising scale-ups in Antwerp. In this period, the company has expanded outside of Belgium, into 20 countries, among them Germany, England, and Spain. Just like other start-ups, Playpass was able to count on the City of Antwerp to grow and internationalize thanks to this additional support:

  • Innovation vouchers

The City of Antwerp awards ‘innovation vouchers’ to starters to help them familiarise themselves with international markets. Playpass uses these financial discounts from the City of Antwerp to participate in a mission to Singapore, organised by Startups.be, the umbrella organisation of tech growth companies.

  • Singapore office space

Thanks to a partnership between the City of Antwerp and B-DNA, Playpass moved into a Singaporean office space two years ago. B-DNA is a Belgian organisation of designers, architects, and engineers with office space in Singapore. It earned them customers, suppliers, and even an investor. Five Antwerp start-ups can utilise an office space and co-working spaces 20 days a year free of charge, for a period of 3 years.

First international acquisition

The icing on the international cake was the first takeover outside the country's borders. With the acquisition of the French start-up Yuflow, Playpass now also hopes to move into the French market. "In short: not everything we have achieved is purely thanks to the city, but without the city, we would never have got this far", Ron Schuermans concludes.