The Rise of Entrepreneurial Innovation: Greenwheels

Innovation and technology have become crucial in shaping our world today. From the way we communicate to the way we conduct business, technology has played a significant role in our daily lives. Innovation has been a driving force for businesses to remain competitive in an ever-changing market, involving the creation of new ideas, products, and services that are different from the existing ones. Companies that embrace innovation can transform the marketplace and disrupt industries.

For the continuously evolving labor market, innovation also aids in the development of fresh skills and competences. In order to be competitive, workers must constantly adapt to new technologies and industry developments. People can have opportunities to learn and grow new skills through innovation, including those that are highly valued in the modern workforce like creativity and critical thinking.

A prime example of such an innovation is Greenwheels, founded by Jan Borghuis and Gijs Van Lookeren in 1995, both of whom have graduated from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Greenwheels is a car sharing service in the Netherlands that allows customers to rent cars, aiming to limit car ownership and encourage car-sharing. Soon after, with a proven track record of success in the highly competitive field of mobility services, the company’s visionary founders recognized the need to constantly innovate and adapt to stay ahead of the curve thus, selling Greenwheels and embarking on a new journey, this time with an emphasis on creating user-friendly solutions for customers and enterprises.

Given the reputation for cutting-edge technology and top-notch customer service, this new business, appropriately titled Ease2pay, swiftly established itself as a forerunner in the finance sector that provides contactless payment solutions for various sectors such as parking, fuel, and public transportation.

The founders of the company have not only left a legacy of greatness in innovation, but also paved the way for a more connected, effective, and sustainable future by continually upholding their core values of sustainability and social responsibility. Their successful journey exemplifies how innovative ideas can lead to business success in an already competitive marketplace.

But have you ever wondered how startups come to success in the competitive marketplace? While it can be a challenging journey, the process of discovery and innovation leads to breakthroughs. Jan, the founder of the company shares a few insights about Greenwheels: “The whole process was a myriad of challenges because there were no examples and we had to figure out every little thing ourselves… but it all worked out in the end” 

Indeed, Innovation can be both stressful and rewarding as it requires individuals to rely on their problem-solving skills and intuition to make progress. It is not easy to run a business, especially when it runs on newly developed technology and innovation because you do not have any examples to look up to, he shares. “We used telematics and at that time it was a new technology, it was challenging yet promising to radically change the car rental process into a self-service that became an urban alternative to car ownership” – Jan Borghuis

Jan takes pride as a pioneer in the industry, recognizing the potential for self-service rentals to become a feasible alternative to car ownership. He and his team revolutionized the rental process through innovation, all while improving the overall customer experience. “As a team we split up tasks, we took up tasks that suited us individually, due to which the company as a whole was able to minimize unproductivity”

Ultimately, innovation is a key factor that develops our society. It can be used to solve challenging issues and maintain competitiveness in a rapidly transforming environment where pushing the limits to what is possible can foster a better future for generations to come.

Erasmus University Challenge: A Student Entrepreneur Upcycling Textile Waste

Benedikt Albertsen is an inspiring entrepreneur who founded Sarowa, a sustainable upcycling fashion business that aims to make upcycling scalable by creating trendy and wearable items out of textile waste. Benedikt’s childhood aspiration of making a significant impact on the world fueled his entrepreneurial journey. He believes that everyone can use the skills they learn at universities to tackle real-world problems. He believes that there is no better time than the present to create something: “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to make a change in the world… and this is the best time to make change, especially for students who are still young, have less to risk, and have all the energy to create a meaningful impact.”

Last year, Benedikt participated in the Erasmus University Challenge, a program that supports young entrepreneurs into turning their innovative ideas into reality. He found the program to be an excellent way to gain guidance and structure to navigate his startup. He credited the mentors for being immensely helpful, as their passion inspired him to be more communicative and supportive of his entrepreneurial vision.

“I think one of the main things you take away from the challenge is that, you are capable… The Erasmus University Challenge, provides guidance for the first couple of steps that need the most attention and are the most difficult because they are so incredibly broad…The judges and the mentors were absolutely amazing, they really helped us and their willingness to spend time with you is truly amazing. I think the most important value you can take from the challenge is also how big they are building their network!” – Benedikt Albertsen

As an entrepreneur, Benedikt sees the willingness to change as a crucial factor in driving his success. He learned that it is essential to be persistent, both internally and externally and no matter what idea you have, you must take the risk and take part in the Erasmus University Challenge as it would teach you of your capabilities, highlighting how one must always think they are capable of change and can make something great. “To anyone thinking to join the Erasmus University Challenge, just do it! The challenge is the first step in the right direction…You are young and have nothing to lose.”

Benedikt is enthusiastic about participating in the upcoming Erasmus University Challenge once again, as he firmly believes that it would further his current ideas and guide him in areas where he needs the most assistance. His commitment in creating sustainable and scalable solutions for textile waste is inspiring and his unwavering dedication and belief in the Erasmus University Challenge underlines the significance of such initiatives that foster young entrepreneurs and offer them the necessary framework and direction to translate their ideas into reality.

Empowering Academics to Innovate: The Impact Starting Guide by Erasmus Enterprise 

Erasmus Enterprise launches The Impact Starting Guide on April 3, 2023 with Erasmus Research Services with the aim to provide academics with tools, bringing their ideas into actionable plans that drive societal impact. The first copy of the guide was presented to Ed Brinksma, President of the Executive Board at Erasmus University Rotterdam, marking the beginning of its distribution. 

“The Impact Starting Guide is an invitation for academics to accelerate their impact by reaching out to researchers or enterprises with ambitions and ideas…. We aim to make everyone feel safe in taking this fun and exciting journey to accelerate their efforts” – Bas van der Noll  

Erasmus Enterprise is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among academics and providing the necessary resources to them for success. Establishing impact is a combination of research and people who are proactive. With the right resources and tools academics can develop innovative solutions and create a lasting social impact.   

The Impact Starting Guide – What is in it for you?  

First, The Erasmus Impact Guide can provide you with practical advice to overcome common challenges and inspire you to head start your journey to make change. Secondly, it can determine your current position in your journey and guide your vision. Lastly, identify the needed support and provide you with the rightful information. 

The guide is set up to direct academics to navigate through various stages of research and development, enabling them to achieve maximum impact in their respective fields. It helps researchers identify potential problems within their ideas and validate them, providing them direction on solution development. Team and partner building are another aspect, distinguishing potential partnerships and defining the right composition. Additionally, it provides objective on initiating fundraising and funding activities.  

Taking initiative is crucial to achieving positive societal impact beyond research, as continuous initiative and dedication is essential to accomplishing it. The Impact Starting Guide will guide you to realise your potential as an entrepreneur and begin your journey. Empower yourself to create a better future by downloading The Impact Starting Guide and take the next steps towards impactful entrepreneurship and co-creation.