Ziel raises 4 million funding from a.o. Borski fund for European expansion

The clothing industry needs an impactful solution to become more sustainable. The global environmental impact of the fashion industry is enormous. Ziel will develop and operate a unique tech platform that makes the on-demand and local production of clothing accessible and affordable. In New York, Ziel has already experimented with several labels on the American market. Now that the technical and economic feasibility has been confirmed, Ziel, supported by a multi-million dollar investment from multiple international parties, will develop, prove and roll out its tech platform in Groningen.

Founder Marleen Vogelaar is pleased with the vote of confidence from GROEIfonds of the Economic Board Groningen, Borski Fund and Purpose Ventures: “This is an important step for Ziel and therefore the clothing industry,” explains Vogelaar. “We can now develop our platform faster, while having instantaneously expanded our potential sales market.” Vogelaar: “By making smart use of artificial intelligence and innovative production techniques, our platform will enable us to seamlessly connect supply and demand for clothing. This means that exactly what is needed is produced – as well as driving local production which requires less transportation and boosts local employment. Currently, an average of 40% excess is purchased per collection by retailers. Much of this is ultimately destroyed – while producing clothes is highly straining on the environment. With the implementation of our technology this will no longer be necessary.”

The choice to bring Ziel to the Netherlands and Groningen in particular, is due to the excellent ecosystem for tech companies in Groningen and the involvement of entrepreneur Jeroen Zanen, who resides in Groningen. According to Sytze Hellinga of lead investor GROEIfonds of the Economic Board Groningen, Groningen is a good location for Ziel. He explains why it makes sense for Ziel to choose Groningen as the next step, following New York: “We are very well equipped in Groningen for the rapid development of new techniques, concepts and ventures, we have highly trained developers and the investment climate is favorable, especially when it comes to companies that value sustainability. North-Groningen also offers good opportunities to demonstrate Europe’s first on-demand clothing factory. ” Vogelaar: “It has been a very logical choice for us and we are pleased that in addition to GROEIfonds, Borski and Purpose Ventures have also shown confidence through their investments. It is also great that we can contribute to the development of the region. A Win-win situation as far as we are concerned. ”

Vogelaar’s mission rapidly attracted interest from various investors. Simone Brummelhuis of Borski Fund explains: “Through our investment we are investing in the transition to a more sustainable clothing industry. We are very confident in the excellent leadership skills of Marleen Vogelaar, who previously founded the global operating 3D printing platform Shapeways. We look forward to collaborating with Ziel as game changers in the clothing industry. This investment – together with national and international investors – in an international sustainable Deep Tech fashion company of a Dutch experienced entrepreneur and role model, is an incredible first investment for Borski Fund. ”

However, it is not only this mission that makes Ziel attractive to investors, the special company structure that Vogelaar has deployed from the beginning, is admirable. Ziel is a steward-owned company, which means that the company cannot, in principle, simply be sold to- or run by external investors. A large part of the return will be continuously reinvested in innovation, and the voting rights do not rest with the shareholders, but with the team and Vogelaar: “In this structure, money is a means to be- and remain innovative and competitive, not a goal. A company that focuses on long-term success automatically makes the choices that optimize the interests of all stakeholders, including those of customers, staff, suppliers and the environment, which in turn has a positive impact on profit. This view caught the attention of Purpose Ventures: “We believe Ziel is a wonderful example of how technology, combined with a disruptive mindset, can change an industry for the better. Being a steward-owned business furthermore makes this a credible and impactful investment, because we know that Ziel will always protect their mission, also in the long term. ”

Photo: from left to right, Borksi fund: Bertrand van Leersum, Simone Brummelhuis,
Techleap: Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau, Zielwear: Marleen Vogelaar

About Borski Fund
The Borski Fund is an innovative Venture Capital fund. We invest in companies with diverse teams. We believe in diversity, gender equality and fair opportunities. We invest in the increasingly expanding group of ambitious female entrepreneurs because their talent must be better utilized, and because it is important that innovation originating from female entrepreneurs is stimulated. We help entrepreneurs to realize their ambitions by using our entrepreneurial experience and exposing them to an extensive network. Success has no gender.

Focus: Borski Fund invests in scalable companies with proven product-market fit; early stage and venture capital phase.

About GROEIfonds
The Groningen Economic Investment Fund (GROEIfonds) is an initiative of the Economic Board Groningen, the organization set up to boost the economy in the earthquake affected zone. The fund still has thirty million euros available to finance plans by entrepreneurs in nine North-Groningen municipalities. GROEIfonds provides subordinated loans and invests in companies. The fund supports start-ups, SMEs and corporates that are already located in the region or who want to settle there.

About Purpose Ventures
Those who want to establish independent and meaningful companies today need alternatives to one-size-fits-all Venture Capital. Purpose Ventures was created specifically to support goal-oriented entrepreneurs and to help companies become steward-owned. Purpose Ventures views their capital as a tool to help entrepreneurs and teams grow their businesses on terms consistent with their goals and values. For example, there are no conditions attached to the Capital of Purpose Ventures whereby dividend payments can be at the expense of the mission, and the capital does not enforce an exit or IPO.

Focus: Early stage and Series-A startups willing to commit to steward ownership.