The Pitch: De Oppasmakelaar

Student entrepreneurs pitch their start-up company to Erasmus Magazine. In this edition, Emma Kluwen presents her company ‘De Oppasmakelaar’, which helps parents find a suitable babysitter.

Name: Emma Kluwen (22)

Study: Business Administration

Company: De Oppasmakelaar, since December 2014

In short: ‘De Oppasmakelaar makes sure parents can always count on a reliable babysitter, even last minute.’

Turnover: ‘Not much yet, but I have already covered the costs of my initial investment and make enough money to have this as my only job next to my study. ‘

The idea: ‘I’ve been babysitting since I was fourteen years old. If I couldn’t make it, the parents always asked me if I knew a friend who could babysit in my place. During my study, I heard a lot of girls who wanted to babysit as well but couldn’t find a family to work for. As a Business Administration student, I saw a demand on both sides and decided to act.’

Setting up the business: ‘I’ve had the idea for a couple of years, but I thought it would be very difficult to turn it into a business. One day I decided to just do it. If it wouldn’t work out, I would only lose around 150 euros. The goal was to learn from the experience rather than make a lot of money. So I registered at the Kamer van Koophandel, created a website and started a Facebook page, and soon got a lot of messages from girls who wanted to be babysitters. Now I’m advertising and distributing flyers at primary schools and libraries to find more parents who want to subscribe to the service. It is quite hard to gain the trust of parents that don’t know you at all, since their children are their most precious possession.’

Unique Selling Point: ‘Parents can subscribe on the website for one, five, ten or fifteen ‘contacts’ with different babysitters I have selected personally. If one of the babysitters is not satisfactory or not available at the right moment, they can try another one. This means that parents can rely on the fact that I’ll always arrange another babysitter for them, even last minute. The babysitters pay me 20% of their first ten working hours. They negotiate the price themselves with the parents. I’m actually an intermediary who does the first selection and sells the contact information, after which the parents can find out which babysitter suits them best.’

What I’ve learned from my study: ‘Take the risk and just do it, while keeping the thought in mind that nine out of ten start-ups go bankrupt in the first two years.’

Most important personal lesson: ‘It costs a lot more time than you think to start a company! So far everybody is super enthusiastic and helpful, a lot of people wonder why they haven’t come up with the idea themselves. The entrepreneurial fire really starts to burn inside of me. I already have some other ideas which I would love to work out, it’s quite addictive actually.’

My company in five years: ‘I have found out that arranging and organizing things is totally my thing. I really hope that De Oppasmakelaar grows bigger and bigger and that we can expand to other cities besides Rotterdam and surrounding areas. But I also see myself having a company in event management, since I love to organize events.’ BK