Team Spotlight: Steven Jongeneel

Steven Jongeneel is an Angel Investor, brand mentor, and founder of Social Embassy, one of the first and the largest social media marketing agency in the Netherlands

Steven Jongeneel is an Angel Investor, brand mentor, and founder of Social Embassy, one of the first and the largest social media marketing agency in the Netherlands. Social Embassy sold in 2013 – leaving Jongeneel free to pursue his passion for building and mentoring brands. So, when he joined the Adcombi Advisory Board in 2018 – we couldn’t have been more proud.

Over the last 8 years, Adcombi has grown into a major and innovative AdTech firm, delivering technology solutions to some of the world’s largest advertisers. Our people, like Steven Jongeneel, have supported that growth.

In this blog series, we’d like to highlight those people – bringing their skills, personality, and the unique ways they contribute to the company to the forefront.

Getting started in marketing

Steven entered FMCG marketing at the end of the 90s, taking on his first role in Quaker PepsiCo, where he learned a hands-on approach for international and strategic brand management for FMCG.

“When I was studying in the 90s, it was the era of big marketing brands – think Coca Cola and Nike – the sky was the limit and there was just so much magic in what you could do with advertising. It was the big idea, you create something massive, and you translate that to a campaign. Advertising doesn’t work that way anymore, but it still taught me how to build brands and I still use that today”

That experience led him to a new role as marketing director at Telefort – where the dot-com bubble, combined with opportunities for moving business online, introduced Steven to his new passion: digital media. By 2005, Telefort was already making 70% of its sales online.

“When Telefort sold, I decided to follow my heart, I was intrigued by online advertising and the rise of social media had my particular interest”

He launched Social Embassy, one of the first social media agencies in the Netherlands – effectively leading the curve on helping big brands to adopt social media.

“We helped organizations do everything: branding, strategy, and implementation. We’d set up the social platforms and then our community managers – people who would engage brands for other people – would take over. We invested in brand loyalty, increasing customer satisfaction, and giving the consumer a voice – and that’s something a lot of brands didn’t want at first – but it really took off. We had something like 80 top 100 businesses. “

Social Embassy sold in 2017, leaving Steven to pursue his other passions, innovation in technology and media.

Meet Steven

Steven Jongeneel is an Angel investor, brand mentor, and marketing lead with years of experience in M&A, branding, and advertising. He's also a husband and a father of two children – one of whom he intends to visit in China – on his first sabbatical from work since graduating university.

“Traveling is my favorite thing, my job has really allowed me to do a lot of that, but I’ve always been too busy with career to take a really long trip, now, I’m going to do it and drive to China.”

He’s also passionate about art, mixing his love of deals and trading into art auctions. And, a true child of the 90s, he listens to bands like Prince, U2, and R&B like Macey Gray.

Helping organizations grow

“In 2017, I started looking at what was going on in new technology and media. I invest in a lot of agencies, especially as an advisory member of the IAB. I’m particularly interested in advertising and marketing communication technology. That’s how I got to know Adcombi, I started out with branding from the advertiser side, then switched to agency side, then became an investor.”

Steven is also the owner of Belle Epoque, a rose nursery dedicated to bringing back and sharing forgotten rose varieties.

“I also invest a lot in biodiversity, it’s one of my passions, but I really got into roses during the pandemic, I live in an area with an old rose garden and when I moved in, it was falling apart. I thought it would be wonderful to restore it to its original condition, but I didn’t know anything about roses. So, I looked for someone to help”

Steven eventually found a nursery owner who had something like 200 variety of roses, and together, they restored the garden.

“In the mornings, I’d have calls with stressed entrepreneurs who were facing issues because of the pandemic, then, for the rest of the day, I’d work in the rose garden, I loved it and I wanted to bring that passion to more people. So, I bought Belle Epoque and started bringing it online”.

Of course, as an investor, Steven’s primary role is making deals. His expertise spans mergers and acquisitions, brand positioning, and helping brands to enter new markets through acquisitions, positioning, and selling businesses. He's also an investor in Pymwymic.

“My favorite garden is a rainforest, it’s so beautiful. I once took a trip to Costa Rica, and it really intrigued me how they build a business model around nature. Most countries demolish it – they protect it, and it attracts tourism that enables them to preserve that nature. That trip to Costa Rica was what originally inspired me to invest in sustainability and biodiversity”.

Investing in Adcombi

“When I had a social media business, we worked with brands like Vokswagen, Porsche, Albert Heijn, Jumbo, etc. One of the frustrations there was that there’s a huge business potential at a point-of-sale level – but we couldn’t service them because it was too much work. It cost more to hire the agency than they could afford to spend on media. So, Adcombi really caught my interest by providing a solution to that.”

“Automation is a major trend in digital advertising – programmatic – do it yourself – so many big brands are leaning into bringing things in-house. There will always be a role for media agencies – they bring knowledge, expertise, and infrastructure, and big companies need infrastructure to function – but increasingly, they also need local reach.”

“A lot of people say advertising is becoming more complex as media becomes more fragmented. But, if you look at what we’re doing with Adcombi, how things like flyers are being replaced by digital, you’re not just getting digitization you’re getting flexibility and simplification– we advertised flyers in the Netherlands and the fastest brands took four weeks to put flyers together and could only differentiate to 8 regions – tools like Adcombi allow you to create dozens of simultaneous campaigns in real time, set budgets on every level, and have a truly dynamic local campaign”

If you’d like to learn more about Steven Jongeneel or his other investments, visit his LinkedIn.

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