Founders’ Friday- The NL Startup Competition Winner, Nadia Fani

This year, Erasmus Enterprise proudly hosted the first NL Startup Competition in collaboration with MT/Sprout, Upstream Festival, and Golden Egg Check. This event marked the first national pitching competition in the Netherlands dedicated to startups. Out of 109 applicants, only 16 teams advanced to the finals. Coastruction participated in the Circular/Sustainable category, and we are excited to learn more about their startup as we sit down with Nadia Fani, the Founder of Coastruction. Our mission is to empower emerging startups by sharing the stories of successful ones. Join us to read more about Nadia’s advice and journey.

Coastruction Overview and Mission

Coastruction develops 3D-printing technology to produce purpose-built reefs. Their mission is to restore marine ecosystems and protect coastlines worldwide. They achieve this by increasing local biodiversity, enhancing environmental quality, and promoting sustainability through this nature-based solution. Their goals include increasing or restoring biodiversity underwater, coastal protection, fostering community engagement, using sustainable materials, advancing reef technology, and partnering with various stakeholders to expand our impact.

Nadia’s journey as an entrepreneur began with a deep passion for 3D printing technology and a desire to tackle the pressing issues of biodiversity loss and coastal erosion. Witnessing the detrimental effects of climate change on marine ecosystems motivated her to explore using 3D printing as one of the solutions to these problems. The potential of 3D-printing technology to create sustainable and effective reef structures was a major catalyst that prompted her to start Coastruction.

Insights for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Nadia advises aspiring entrepreneurs to stay passionate and purpose-driven, as your passion for your mission will drive you through challenges and inspire others to join your cause. She emphasizes the importance of embracing innovation by continuously seeking out and adopting new technologies and methods that can improve your product or service. Building a strong network is crucial; collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations can provide invaluable support and expertise. Learning from failures is essential; each setback is an opportunity to learn and grow, so don’t be discouraged by failures—use them to refine your approach.

Reflecting on her journey, Nadia would place a greater emphasis on believing in her own capabilities. Confidence in oneself is key to overcoming the inevitable challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

Nadia highlights several strategies that have been instrumental in her success. Community engagement has been crucial, involving local communities and stakeholders in projects to ensure success and sustainability. Focusing on sustainability by prioritizing sustainable materials and methods has set a strong foundation for Coastruction’s mission and brand identity. Building strong partnerships with educational institutions, environmental organizations, and industry leaders has been instrumental in advancing Coastruction’s projects.

Navigating Challenges

To navigate challenges and setbacks, Nadia relies on adaptability, being flexible and open to changing approaches when necessary to overcome obstacles and find new solutions. She emphasizes the importance of having a strong team, as a dedicated and passionate team provides strength and diverse perspectives to tackle problems collectively. Continuous learning is also key; staying informed about the latest developments in technology, environmental science, and business practices keeps Coastruction ahead of the curve. Maintaining a clear vision and goals ensures the team stays motivated and focused, even during tough times. Regularly revisiting and reaffirming goals helps maintain momentum and direction.

Want to be the next one featured?

 Want to showcase your startup to a global audience? We are dedicated to highlighting the journeys of entrepreneurs and sharing their stories with our worldwide community. By featuring your startup, we aim to inspire others and celebrate your achievements. To be considered, simply fill out the form, and our team will reach out to you!

Founders' Friday Feature

Be the next founder featured on our socials and share your story!

SAFE- Richard Wibbels’ Entrepreneurial Journey

At Erasmus Enterprise, our mission is to elevate entrepreneurship to new heights. In our “Founders’ Friday” series, we empower both aspiring and established entrepreneurs to drive innovation and achieve their goals. This week, we’re excited to feature an RSM alumni, Richard Wibbels, the founder of SAFE. Join us as we delve into Richard’s entrepreneurial journey and uncover his valuable insights and advice.

Safe Mission and Overview

At SAFE, our mission is to promote electronic music culture. In Düsseldorf, where our team is based, we feel the scene is not as prominent as it could be; clubs are closing, and the city doesn’t fully reflect its rich cultural heritage. In cities where I’ve lived before, like Rotterdam or Berlin, the scene is much more vibrant. We want to change that here.

Our goal is to become a brand in the electronic music space and at the same time have a social impact with what we do. At SAFE, we provide DJs and electronic music artists with a new ‘safe’ place—a new home—where they can perform. We record their sets and upload them online. What started last year as a YouTube channel is slowly becoming something bigger, as we are now also starting to co-organize events and step by step working towards our goals.

"In all beginnings dwells a magic force" -Hermann Hesse

This quote by Hermann Hesse perfectly encapsulates my passion for entrepreneurship. My journey began in the dynamic startup world of Berlin, where I gained my first entrepreneurial experience. Since then, I’ve worked for several startups, driven by the thrill of fast-paced environments brimming with opportunities to learn, innovate, and connect with inspiring, driven individuals. My studies at RSM were essential in preparing me to apply to and succeed in these startups.

The biggest drivers of innovation for me are technological advancements and collaboration. The rapid development of artificial intelligence, for example, offers numerous new opportunities, many of them at low cost. Additionally, collaboration and teamwork enable us to harness knowledge and networks that remain inaccessible when working alone.

Advice

Gain early practical experience by working for associations and organizations such as Erasmus Enterprise, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, or Turing Students Rotterdam. These organizations, which were either not present or not as prominent when I was a student, offer great opportunities for growth. Through these experiences, you will learn what you excel at and what you find challenging, as well as what you enjoy and what you don’t. This self-awareness is invaluable for shaping your future career path.

The entrepreneurial path is a two sided coin.

Working at a startup has many advantages. If you want to gain generalist, entrepreneurial work experience, consider roles such as Founder’s Associate, Chief of Staff, or Entrepreneur in Residence. These strategic positions provide a comprehensive overview of all entrepreneurial processes within startups. Startups, if successful, can develop rapidly, so once you get your foot in the door, you may quickly have the opportunity to grow into other roles.

However, the entrepreneurial journey is also risky—many ventures fail. It’s wise to always have a Plan B or an alternative strategy, or to pursue your entrepreneurial projects on the side while maintaining other commitments.

Navigating Challenges

I generally view every failure as a learning experience. To maintain momentum, I keep myself constantly engaged. Currently, I am involved in several projects simultaneously, which keeps me busy and energized. By simply “doing”—ticking things off your to-do list rather than resting—you can generate energy and momentum for the next activity. I envision this process like a self-charging electric car: activity leads to more activity. Just try not to stop moving.

Want to be the next one featured?

Want to showcase your startup to the world and reach a broader audience? We are passionate about highlighting the journeys of entrepreneurs and sharing their stories with a global community. By featuring your startup, we aim to inspire others and celebrate your achievements. If you’d like to be featured, simply fill out the form, and our team will get in touch with you!

 

Want to know more about SAFE or want to get in contact with them? Click here to visit their website!

Founders' Friday Feature

Be the next founder featured on our socials and share your story!

Revealed: The 2024 NL Startup Competition Winners

Rotterdam, 30.05.2024: Out of 109 applicants, 16 startups pitched their innovative ideas this Wednesday at the first edition of the NL Startup Competition during the UPSTREAM Festival at Annabel in Rotterdam. Competing in front of an expert jury, the startups showcased their projects in four impact-focused categories: social, energy transition, digital, and circular/sustainable.

Most Innovative Social Startups

The Most Innovative Social Startups recognizes startups making significant contributions to social impact. The winners in this category receive:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to support their continued development and growth: ChatLicense

2. A 1-hour media training session with MT/Sprout to enhance their communication and public relations skills: PAL

3. A 3-month co-working space provided by Erasmus Enterprise, fostering collaboration and innovation within a vibrant entrepreneurial community: Subul & TeachBuddy.

Most Innovative Energy Transition Winner

The Most Innovative Energy Transition Startups category recognizes startups that are driving the shift towards sustainable energy solutions:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to help fuel further innovation and development in their energy transition projects: FLASC B.V.

2. A 1-hour media training session provided by MT/Sprout, aimed at honing their communication skills and enhancing their media presence: Avoxt

3. A unique opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the circuit in Zandvoort, courtesy of VolkerWessels, providing a thrilling experience and networking opportunity: Tree Composites

4. A 3-month co-working space at BlueCity, fostering collaboration and innovation within a community dedicated to sustainability and circular economy principles: iON-ENERGY.

Most Innovative Digital Startups:

The Most Innovative Digital Startups category honors those startups that are pushing the
boundaries of technology and digital innovation. Winners in this category receive a robust
support package designed to enhance their growth and visibility:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to accelerate their technological advancements and business development: I see U baby care

2. A 1-hour media training session by MT/Sprout, aimed at refining their public speaking and media interaction skills to better promote their innovations: Spatialise

3. An exhilarating opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the circuit in Zandvoort, provided by VolkerWessels. This unique experience not only offers excitement but also a chance to network with key industry figures: Syntho & TwinAi.

Most Innovative Circular/Sustainable Startups:

The Most Innovative Circular/Sustainable Startups category recognizes startups that are leading the way in sustainability and circular economy practices. Winners in this category receive a comprehensive prize package designed to support their growth and enhance their impact:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to further develop their sustainable initiatives and expand their market presence: Kumasi Drinks

2. A 1-hour media training session by MT/Sprout, equipping them with the skills to effectively communicate their vision and engage with media outlets: Nature’s Principles

3. The prestigious V.O. Patents & Trademarks ‘Innovation Award,’ which includes a patent search valued at €2,500 to protect and advance their innovative solutions: Coastruction

4. An exciting opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the Zandvoort circuit, courtesy of VolkerWessels. This unique experience not only offers thrill but also provides a valuable networking opportunity: Back to Batteries. 

On top of the category prizes, the judges awarded ChatLicense with an entry ticket to the Top 250 Bootcamp for the Entrepreneurship World Cup. This exclusive ticket offers unparalleled opportunities for mentorship, networking, and furthering their entrepreneurial journey on a global stage. “We’re super excited to go to the Startup World Cup, because this is a global stage and ChatLicense deserves a global stage, because it offers a solution to a global problem” says Marjolein van Tilburg, co-founder of ChatLicense.

A message from the judges:

"The value of this event is to really get to know new ideas, new people and a lot of energy. I really believe that we will stay in touch for a long time and see how we can work together."
Dewi Wesselman
Project Manager ESG & Digital at Damen.

About NL Startup Competition

The first NL Startup Competition is a joint initiative organized by Upstream, MT/Sprout, Golden Egg Check, and Erasmus Enterprise. This initiative is supported by esteemed partners such as the Port of Rotterdam, the Municipality of Rotterdam, V.O. Patents & Trademarks, Rabobank, Damen, VolkerWessels, Econsulate, and HelloPrint.

These organizations have come together to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and to provide a platform for startups to showcase their impactful solutions in various sectors.

Social Category Finalists

PAL

PAL (Amie Technologies BV is a digital palliative care platform for timely and efficient access to care for anyone with a life-limiting illness. Pal is a palliative care platform fuelled by family observations that empowers the whole care team. It is a scalable, accessible, and affordable alternative to in-person care, which can be introduced at the earliest point in the patient journey. 

Subul is an impactful global tech talent solution, where cutting-edge technology and a sophisticated platform take center stage. Our mission combines the dynamism of ethical outsourcing and out staffing with the power of advanced tech to unlock the potential of disadvantaged communities, aiming for both business growth and societal transformation. 

TeachBuddy is a peer-tutoring software, that helps schools create large-scale projects in which their students support each other through tutoring. The software matches the right pupils from the same school together, plans when they meet, tracks their progress, and keeps teachers informed. 

ChatLicense offers a smartphone diploma and experience game for kids, where kids earn the use of apps while engaging parents through the parent platform. 

Digital Category Finalists

Syntho is an AI generated synthetic data by generating an entirely new dataset of fresh data records. Therefore information to identify real individuals is simply not present in a synthetic dataset which allows you to share your data without privacy concerns. 

Twin AI provides a low-code AI platform that automates repetitive tasks and integrates various AI models seamlessly. Our solution enables organizations to set up workflows once, automate prompts, and iteratively improve results without the need for continuous coding, making AI adoption more accessible and efficient. 

Spatialise is enabling the regeneration of soils through geospatial intelligence by helping farmers make better use of their assets (stable, machines & land) while decreasing pressure on natural resources for people, planet and prosperity. 

I See U baby care

Our AI software will help uncover and decrease sleep deprivation in hospitalized (pre)term baby’s, leading to better (brain) development, faster growth and fewer infections; altogether we strive for better changes at a healthy future. For more information contact: iseeyoubabycare@gmail.com

Energy Transition Finalists

Avoxt BV offers a membrane less electrolyzer that has ultra-low maintenance, high up time and high efficiency, therefore reducing the cost of green hydrogen with 25%. 

FLASC HPES (Hydro-Pneumatic Energy Storage) offers the first solution tailored for colocation with offshore wind. With the co-located FLASC HPES system, offshore wind farms can become an active provider of grid flexibility when using energy storage. Recent studies show that this can add 10-20% more value to the wind farm output by improving the way it is monetized. For more information visit this website

iON-ENERGY utilizes its patented energy harvesting technology to produce clean electricity for domestic use, 24/7/ 365. The home device called the E-Box will revolutionize the way households can obtain the best energy solution for the best price. The E-box will provide 5,000 kWh per year, which is more than most household use per year. It is portable, does not require installation, and is more affordable than the alternative solar panels. 

Developing composite joints to enable better, lighter and cheaper jacket foundations for offshore wind turbines. 

Circular/Sustainable Finalists

The energy transition causes a material transition with a few local sources and vulnerable supply chains.Back to Battery offers a closed-loop circular solution for end-of-life Li ion batteries, producing critical raw materials locally and sustainable, reducing CO2 by >90% and minimizing waste. 

Building a sustainable future with nature-inspired and purpose-built 3D-printed reefs for marine life restoration, conservation and coastal protection. By leveraging unique powder bed technology, Coastruction creates sustainable substrates that blend seamlessly into the natural environment, addressing the urgent threats facing marine ecosystems. Our multifunctional solution not only restores damaged reef systems but also protects vulnerable coastlines and boosts local economies. 

We fight food waste and income waste by upcycling cacao fruit into appealing fast moving consumer products. We revolutionize the cacao industry, uplift farmers, and create delicious products, first within the beverages category and now across others. We do this by pioneering the vertical integration of cacao fruit as a new ingredient for a wide range of consumer products and expanding on the innovations of upcycling more parts of the pods (husk). 

We offer a ground-breaking process for lactic acid production to make biopolymers from residual streams. Production of lactic acid and derivatives from 2G feedstocks in a cost-effective operation. 

For Media Inquiries: ​

Erasmus Enterprise
Johanna Raats
Marketing & Communications Lead
Johanna.Raats@eur.nl

Students Gain Unique Opportunity to Connect with 45+ IndustryExperts at Erasmus University Speed Date Event

Rotterdam, Netherlands May 28th: Last week’s Speed Date Event at Erasmus University College, centrally located in the heart of Rotterdam, marked a significant milestone in the ongoing Erasmus University Challenge. Held on Day Zero of the Upstream Festival, the event was a remarkable success, fostering innovation and collaboration between entrepreneurial teams and industry experts. 

The event featured an impressive line-up with 53 teams and 45 coaches from various industries, including logistics, education, energy transition, and more. With over 150 speed dates taking place throughout the day, the atmosphere was buzzing with enthusiasm and innovative ideas.

Matthew Harvey, Managing Director of Erasmus University College, opened the event withthe historical significance of the building and reminding participants that “Life is not a sprint.It’s a marathon!” Followingly, Oscar van Veen, Director of Innovation at Port of Rotterdam,captivated the audience with his compelling journey from an aspiring basketball player to a lifelong entrepreneur, emphasizing that innovation is a collaborative process and that skill scan transfer seamlessly between the startup and corporate environments. Throughout the event, partners provided invaluable feedback, shedding light on market needs, validation, strategic alignment, and potential challenges. “It’s fantastic to see so many teams well-prepared with insightful questions for us partners” as noted by Jits Brouwer from ErasmusX.

The synergy between the diverse teams and seasoned experts was evident, highlighting the importance of exchanging innovation with industry leaders from diverse backgrounds. Such interactions are essential for sustainable growth, the success in the entrepreneurial landscape and refining the participating teams’ business strategies.

Want to know more?

Want to know more about the 3rd Edition of the Erasmus University Challenge and all theparticipants? Visit our website: erasmusuniversitychallenge.nl and follow us on social media (@Erasmus_University_Challenge). For questions, reach out to laulinda.massunda@soapbox.nl or info@erasmusuniversitychallenge.nl.

The Erasmus University Challenge is initiated by Erasmus Enterprise and organized annually in collaboration with Soapbox. 

Combining growth and impact: The Top 250- 2024 lead the way in the Dutch economy

Top 250 highlights the 250 most innovative and fastestgrowing companies in the Netherlands, giving insights into the current state of the Dutch economy. The Top 250 Insights Report of 2024 reveals key trends and shares insights on this outstanding group of companies. The main development of this year is the rise of companies that combine high growth with making a positive societal impact, capturing opportunities where societal transitions come into play.

This year, Top 250 welcomes a lot of ‘firsts’:

The group welcomes 131 newcomers. 93 companies from last year have retained their place in the group, compared to 69 companies a year before. This is a positive sign as it demonstrates that more companies are successfully maintaining their high-growth trajectories, despite the challenges that scaling up presents, even for the most talented entrepreneurs. Moreover, 26 companies that were in the Top 250 before but did not make it last year have rejoined the group.

The high-growth landscape is shifting towards more mature companies. This year’s cohort features the oldest companies yet, with an average company age of 16.4 years. This continues the trend of an increasing average age, which rose from 11 years in 2022 to 13.4 years in 2023. As prof. dr. Justin Jansen, co-founder and Senior Fellow of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship and Professor at Rotterdam School of Management, points out:

“In order to persist high growth, firms should make sure to scale by not just prioritizing growth over efficiency but also making sure that revenues grow faster than costs involved. Although this may not be possible in the early stages of high growth, it is a necessary transition that high-growth firms need to accomplish.”

North Brabant enters top 3 of the country’s economic powerhouses, after North and South Holland. For the first time, North-Brabant surpasses Utrecht, with 30 firms versus Utrecht’s 22. North-Holland remains the leading province with 104 high-growth firms, although this is a decline from last year’s 114. South Holland secures second place again, increasing from 35 to 51 firms. Our findings suggest that the heart of the Dutch entrepreneurial ecosystem may keep shifting, and there might be more surprising changes in the top 3 in the coming years.

This year, 78 of the Top 250 companies (32.5%) have at least one woman founder or C-level manager. More women in leadership is a positive shift, but the gender gap still remains significant.

For the first time, the Top 250 includes three NGOs and seven B Corps, which proves how scaling is not exclusive to a more traditional for-profit context. The focus on sustainability is evident, with seven companies out of 250 being certified B Corps and almost half of the companies indicated to be actively working on achieving the United Nations’ SustainableDevelopment Goals (SDGs).Top 250 celebrates the most remarkable growth stories of the Dutch fast-growing companies and their leaders. It also serves as a call to action to the whole ecosystem. In the words of Leonardo Fuligni, Deputy Director of ECE: “We hope this report serves as an inspiration and a valuable resource for all entrepreneurs, policymakers, and ecosystem developers. Together, we can continue to foster a thriving environment for high growth in the Netherlands.”

Top 250 Event

On November 5, 2024, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship organizes an exclusive Top 250 event. Conducting this research for eight years in a row, this year ECE brings Top 250 to their home city of Rotterdam. Fuligni explains: “This 2024 edition feels particularly special, as we are bringing the Top 250 back to our home base Rotterdam – a powerhouse for entrepreneurial initiative and action.” The winners in the categories Golden Scaler, Impact Scaler, Young Scaler and Woman-led Scaler will be handed their award by previous year’s winners: Sonja Meijerink of Valcon SEE (Golden Scaler and Woman-led Scaler 2023), Crisp (Young Scaler 2023), and NX Filtration (Impact Scaler 2023).

About Top 250

Top 250 is an annual research conducted by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship on the fastest-growing companies in the Netherlands. The companies are selected based on weighting of absolute (in number) and relative growth (in percentage) of FTEs between 2020 and 2023, using the OECD (2016) definition of a HighGrowth Firm (HGF) and the typology of growth developed by the European Scaleup Institute. This research and the event are supported by nlgroeit, Municipality of Rotterdam, Dealroom, HelloPrint, and Upstream Festival.

About Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) is a leading international centre for entrepreneurship education and research. Guided by their core values – Entrepreneurial, Collaborative and Excellence – the center drives innovation through high-quality research and education, locally and globally. Through collaborating with entrepreneurs, academia, education, government, and industry partners, ECE actively shapes the future of entrepreneurship and drives positive, sustainable societal and economic change.

 For enquiries, contact Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship’s Marketing and Communication team at communication@ece.nl.

Download the Top 250 2024 Insights Report

Download the Top 250 2024 Insights Report Fill in this form to receive the report in your mailbox.

Erasmus University Challenge- Speed Dating Event

Date: May 28, 2024
Location: Erasmus University College, Nieuwemarkt 1A, 3011 HP Rotterdam
Time: 13:30 – 19:00

Erasmus University Challenge

On May 28, the Erasmus University Challenge is hosting speed dates at Erasmus University College in Rotterdam. During this gathering, student teams will have the opportunity to present their innovative ideas and projects directly to potential investors, mentors, and other interested parties. This speed dating session is a key highlight of the Erasmus University Challenge taking place on Day Zero at the UPSTREAM festival, where innovation meets community.

The Erasmus University Challenge provides a platform to spotlight the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of students across three categories: ideation, prototyping, and start-up.

Ideation: Where dreams and initial ideas begin to take shape.
 
Prototyping: Where visions and sketches evolve into the first versions of tangible projects.
 
Start-up: Featuring projects that have already entered the market and are actively seeking to expand.

Participant teams

From a diverse pool of over 95 entrepreneurial student teams, this edition of the Erasmus University Challenge has seen impressive growth. Returning partners like Go-Tan will inspire the teams to take their next step in their entrepreneurial journey. As Erik van Elderen from BTS said last year; “there is a lot of entrepreneurial eagerness!”

One of this year’s participating startups in the prototyping category is Cuphub. This student team has developed Casey. Casey is a reliable on-the-go menstrual cup cleaner, designed to provide convenient and hygienic care for women all over the world.

Another showcase of innovation this year is the start-up Biocrafts. Their mission is to revolutionise the construction industry by replacing conventional methods with innovative, greener solutions that prioritise sustainability without sacrificing quality or performance.

Last but not least, Fungi for Future is developing a material to replace plastic in the packaging sector with materials that are truly biodegradable. Partners such as Albert Heijn and Rituals have already shown interest in the team.

Speed Dating

The speed dating, which will take place on 28 May at Erasmus University College, is a great opportunity for participants in this year’s edition to discuss the next steps in their entrepreneurial journey. “Today’s speed dating was great. Some really brilliant ideas,” said Oscar van Veen from the Port of Rotterdam at last year’s edition. As last year’s edition was so successful, Oscar van Veen will be back to network with and support this year’s participants. As Rector Magnificus of the Erasmus University, Annelien Bredenoord said to be proud of the teams participating in the Erasmus University Challenge and she would like to encourage you to stop by!

Want to know more?

Want to know more about the student teams and partners of the 3rd edition of the Erasmus University Challenge? Visit the website or follow us on social media (@Erasmus_University_Challenge). The Erasmus University Challenge is initiated by Erasmus Enterprise and organized annually in collaboration with Soapbox. 

Registration is possible via liesje.goldschmidt@eur.nl.

"Join us on May 28 at Erasmus University College from 13:30 for the Erasmus University Challenge. Explore the entrepreneurial spirit fostered by Erasmus Enterprise and be inspired by innovation and ambition at Erasmus University Rotterdam."
Liesje
Liesje Goldschmidt
Erasmus Enterprise

Future Makers- Max van Splunteren’s Journey at VolkerWessels 

At Erasmus Enterprise, we have always been dedicated to empowering young minds to thrive, whether in entrepreneurship or other fields. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Max van Splunteren, a prime example of this ethos. Join us as we sit down with Max to discuss his journey from university to driving innovation at VolkerWessels. Get ready for insights, inspiration, and practical advice for anyone with big dreams.

VolkerWessels Overview

VolkerWessels is the largest Dutch building company active in the Netherlands, the UK, North America, and Germany, spanning all areas of the construction industry. We facilitate the creation of projects in infrastructure, real estate, and even the energy transition markets, adhering to the ‘think global, act local’ principle. Our mission is to make society more sustainable and to build in a way that enables people to live and work there healthily and happily.

At this point, the most important projects of VolkerWessels include the WonderWoods tower in Utrecht, where VolkerWessels is building a residential tower while also reintroducing biodiversity to the city. With 360 trees and approximately 10,000 plants incorporated on the outside of the building, it passively absorbs approximately 5.5 tons of CO2 and releases 41.5 tons of oxygen. Another significant project is the Holland Hydrogen 1, where both the factory itself and the necessary energy substation are built by VolkerWessels. This factory will produce approximately 60 tons of green hydrogen per year, utilizing the offshore wind park in the North Sea. Finally, one of the major completed projects is the IJboulevard, which has provided 4,000 bicycle parking spaces on the north side of Amsterdam Central Station. These bicycle parking spaces have been created below the shoreline, reclaiming significant space for pedestrians.

First and foremost, I have a deep appreciation for innovation itself, so working at a company that employs innovative techniques to achieve its goals is something that resonates with me. Furthermore, I value companies that produce tangible and durable products, which naturally drew me to the construction field. VolkerWessels is a company that utilizes innovative solutions to complete its projects, and therefore, it led me to seek a role where I could drive innovation from within their strategic corporate development team.

Future Makers

At VolkerWessels, we can proudly say: creators build and shape the future. That is why we always strive for an environment where future generations can live, reside, and work healthily and happily! Challenges related to climate change and energy transition underscore the necessity to develop, design, innovate, manage, and construct differently. Crafting the future has been our legacy for generations. 

Tips and Transition from University

If you are convinced that your idea will solve a problem, stay close to it. As one might know, the construction industry is somewhat conservative. So, when new innovative ideas or opportunities emerge, many people need time to adjust their way of thinking before it can become a success within the business. Therefore, if you’ve identified a problem that is solved by your idea or product, be determined and don’t be scared by rejections. Of course, you must listen to what people within the business have to say in order to adapt and fine-tune your product or idea. However, sticking to your own plan often gets rewarded in the long run.

In all honesty, I am very happy with how my transition from university to VolkerWessels went. I was able to secure a job at the company before I finished my master’s thesis and started even before I had defended it. However, during my time at university, I have always competed in motorsport at a high level, and this is something I might have done differently. Juggling this alongside my master’s degree always felt like I was spreading myself too thin, not fully committing to either endeavor. If I were in the position to start over, I may have considered pausing my degree for one or two years to go all-in for my motorsports career and see where it would take me.

The aspect I appreciated about balancing university and motorsports simultaneously was the constant challenge in two very different domains. This provided a varied experience, where I was intellectually stimulated alongside the physical and competitive demands of motorsport. Therefore, if given the chance to start over, I would still pursue some form of education, but perhaps not one as intensive as Aerospace Engineering.

Navigating Challenges

Setbacks are a part of life, in my opinion; there is no one who has never experienced a setback in any form. However, I believe that setbacks must be put into perspective. While a setback might seem devastating in your own view, for somebody else, it could be seen as a minor bump in the road. Therefore, it is crucial to speak to people and share your challenges with others in order to receive help. Personally, I often do this with my father, as he has been an entrepreneur in the past and always has some refreshing ideas for my setbacks.

Want to be the next one featured?

Feeling the inspiration from Max and eager to foster innovation with your own entrepreneurial spark? Look no further than Erasmus Enterprise! Our entrepreneurial community stands ready to support your innovative startup ideas, providing vital funds through our Startup Voucher program. Don’t let this opportunity slip by—seize the chance to access invaluable resources and kickstart your path to success today!

Startup Voucher

Kickstart your startup with the Startup Voucher!

Startup Voucher: AIR Robotica Journey

Erasmus Enterprise proudly presents David Bos, the creative student entrepreneur mind behind AIR Robotica. With excitement we’re following David’s journey which started over a year ago at the Erasmus University Challenge. Recently, he received the Startup Voucher to take the next step in his entrepreneurial journey and finally working with his first client to bring what started with an idea to life! We spoke to David Bos about his experience, and he offered us a brief testimonial about the Startup Voucher and AIR Robotica:

Vision and Overview

At AIR Robotica, we specialize in developing innovative products to enhance human experiences, with a particular focus on the entertainment sector. By leveraging cutting-edge technology, our goal is to revolutionize how organizers deliver entertainment and how visitors experience it. Our smart camera system provides a comprehensive overview of events or parks, optimizing both visitor experiences and profits.

Our mission at AIR Robotica is clear: we aim to empower entertainers with state-of-the-art systems and hardware, taking their offerings to new heights. This commitment goes beyond just entertainment; it’s about creating products that captivate stakeholders while helping businesses improve operations, enhance safety measures, and maximize value.

At AIR Robotica, innovation drives us. We constantly explore new ideas and technologies to enhance human experiences. Quality is our standard; we exceed expectations and set industry benchmarks. We collaborate closely with partners who share our vision, building strong relationships. Ethical leadership guides us; we operate with integrity and transparency, making a positive impact and leaving a lasting legacy.

In the journey of our startup, conversations with Bas have been invaluable. His guidance has been instrumental, especially when I’ve bombarded him with countless questions. Our first encounter with the startup voucher came after our participation in the University Challenge, an event we’re excited to be part of again this year.

Being awarded the Startup Voucher provided us with the valuable support of Erasmus Enterprise. This partnership added credibility to our project and expanded our network of resources and expertise. The collaboration with Erasmus Enterprise enabled us to access additional mentorship, guidance, and opportunities for growth, enhancing our overall trajectory as a startup. 

The process of applying for and receiving the Startup Voucher encouraged us to refine and solidify our business idea. Through the application process, we were prompted to articulate our value proposition, define our target market, and outline our strategic objectives more clearly. This exercise helped us to better understand our business model and identify areas for improvement and optimization.

Journey and Tips

Two years into my academic journey, I embarked on my entrepreneurial path through a university challenge aimed at launching startups. Given my interests, I eagerly signed up.

As I reconsidered my goals, inspiration struck: What if there was a drone capturing thrilling action shots and videos? Thus began a journey marked by refining the concept amidst technical challenges and specifications. This venture entailed team building, technical adjustments, client acquisition, and market research. Proudly alongside my business partner Niels van Nieuwland, we founded AIR Robotics, revolutionizing robotics with drones for comprehensive work area overviews. Engaging potential clients like the police and entertainment sectors, our aim is to launch our first project this spring.

Looking Back

Looking back, I realize that building a company is about aligning with your core values and aspirations. It’s not just about finding a job, but creating something that truly reflects who you are. If I were to start over, this insight would be my first step. Understanding this guided my search for the right co-founder and shaped our operational strategies.

Then, it’s crucial to assess the market and identify where the value and opportunities lie. Rather than chasing money, focus on validating your idea by securing commitments from potential clients. Conducting interviews with them is essential; their feedback is invaluable. Only once you’ve gathered this foundation should you proceed to launch your business.

Want to be the next featured entrepreneur?

Tap into your entrepreneurial capabilities with the Startup Voucher – a unique opportunity available to all driven young individuals prepared to ignite their business aspirations. Don’t miss your chance to seize this invaluable resource and embark on your journey towards success!

Startup Voucher

Kickstart your startup with the Startup Voucher!

Startup Voucher: BIKEBAZE Testimonial

Erasmus Enterprise proudly presents Dries Dederen, a visionary entrepreneur behind the innovative BIKEBAZE venture. Selected as a bright recipient of the Startup Voucher, Dederen exemplifies the spirit of innovation and determination driving the entrepreneurial landscape.

Vision and Overview

BIKEBAZE is dedicated to combating bike theft in the Netherlands with innovative, community-driven solutions. Our platform, launching soon in Rotterdam, allows bike owners to register their bikes in a central database, linking each bike (using the unique frame number) to its owner. Combined with our unique, tamper resistant SafeTags, we provide a comprehensive system for bike security. Our aim is twofold: to prevent bike theft by making theft less attractive due to the SafeTags, and to facilitate the recovery of bikes. For instance, if authorities find a container in the port full of stolen bikes, our system makes it easy to trace back the owners. This dual approach – increasing prevention and improving recovery – taps into the rich biking culture of the Netherlands and addresses the critical issue of bike theft, which impacts tens of thousands of Rotterdam’s bike owners annually.

I learned about the Startup Voucher through my interaction with Bas. The application process was straightforward, involving detailed planning from the idea stage to financials. I’m looking forward to using the voucher for testing various offline marketing strategies and for the initial production (and further R&D) of our SafeTags.

Journey and Tips

My journey has taught me the value of self-reliance in developing our MVP. Initially, I sought co-founders and investors, which, while important, can be time-consuming without a tangible product. My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is this: if you believe you can develop your product yourself, do it. Build that MVP, even if it’s not perfect. It’s more effective to approach potential partners or investors with something concrete. Of course, if you find someone suited to join, that’s great – collaboration can be invaluable. But don’t spend all your time at networking events seeking co-founders or investors with just an idea. Building a functional MVP first can be a game-changer.

Looking Back

Reflecting on my early steps, I’ve learned the importance of diving deep into your product and exploring if you can develop it independently. If you find that you can, take that route first. While networking to find co-founders or investors is crucial, focusing first on developing a tangible product – even a simple MVP – can make a significant difference. It’s often more compelling to engage others with a working model than just an idea. The entrepreneurial path is as much about building and learning as it is about finding the right people to join your journey. So, what I would do different is start developing the MVP myself even if it is technically a bit challenging, but hey, there is YouTube!

One aspect I would approach the same way is engaging in conversations with a wide range of people, especially finding mentors. The guidance, feedback, and motivation provided by mentors have been invaluable. Entrepreneurship can sometimes be a lonely journey, filled with moments of frustration. Having mentors who understand these challenges and can offer motivation and support is crucial. They provide not just practical advice, but also the emotional boost needed to navigate the ups and downs of building a startup. This network of support is something I would recommend every entrepreneur to cultivate actively.

Want to be the next featured entrepreneur?

Unlock your entrepreneurial potential with the Startup Voucher – an exclusive opportunity open to all ambitious young minds ready to ignite their business dreams. Don’t miss your chance to seize this invaluable resource and embark on your journey towards success!

Startup Voucher

Kickstart your startup with the Startup Voucher!

It’s a Wrap! 2nd Edition of Talent for Transition – Circular Economy an Inspiring Success!

We are still buzzing and looking back to the 2nd Edition of Talent for Transition – Circular Economy! 🌐♻️ This collaborative event by Erasmus Enterprise, Hogeschool Rotterdam Startup Academy  and BlueCity brought together passionate individuals, forward-thinking businesses, and innovative ideas to pave the way for a sustainable future.

From engaging inspiring speakers to hands-on workshops, the event was a full of creativity and collaboration. Participants explored ideas to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.

Throughout the event, inspiration flowed freely as speakers shared their insights, experiences, and visions for a circular future. The energy was wonderful, fueled by the determination to drive positive change and make a lasting impact on our planet.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees, speakers, and partners who contributed to the success of this event. Your passion, dedication, and innovative spirit are the driving forces behind our shared journey towards a circular economy.

As we reflect on the achievements of the 2nd Edition of Talent for Transition, we are reminded of the potential that lies within each of us to shape a better world. Let’s continue to harness that potential, working together to create a future where sustainability thrives.

Stay tuned for updates on future initiatives championing the circular economy. Together, we can build a world that works for everyone, now and for generations to come. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey!

What's next? ​

For the 3rd consecutive year, Erasmus University Challenge – in collaboration with Erasmus Enterprise and Erasmus University – create the amazing opportunity for students to learn and improve by developing their own business ideas with support from many educational and industry partners. Whether the idea is based on a prototype, scientific project, or your sheer motivation, everybody with an impactful idea is welcome! Besides online and offline coaching of our invaluable network, developing your personal skills and many opportunities for networking, there are of course also many prizes to win worth up to €5.000,-!