There are a whole lot of students going about with great new ideas for products or services, especially at a business-oriented university like Erasmus University Rotterdam. And just like for Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) or Larry Page (Google), this obviously starts in a garage or up in an attic. Messing about, doing a bit of building, making prototypes, having a glass of beer and daydreaming. Nothing wrong with that.

But what if your idea turns out to be really good? Where can you go in Rotterdam to cultivate and develop your brand-new company? To find out, we spoke with all kinds of key people in the wonderful world of meet-ups, bootstrapping, co-working spaces, incubators and angel investors.

Summary of start-up hubs in Rotterdam. Are any of them missing?

Phase 0: pre-start-ups

em-startup fase 0 bedrijfsleven
Image credit: Bas van der Schot

Of course it all starts on campus because ECE Students is at Woudestein. This is the right place for you to go if you want to get ideas, discuss them and flesh them out into something definite. ECE Students is for the very beginning where burgeoning talent can be spotted. You can compare it to a room in the attic, only at ECE Students you’ve got friendly, helpful people around you who have a big network as well and who can link you up with the right people.

  • expertise: none, all ideas are welcome
  • services: coaching, networking and working space
  • entry requirements: you’re a university student with a good idea
  • location: Tinbergen Building H12-28, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
  • website:

One Euro Project @ ECE Students at Erasmus

This year, 23-year-old Joshua Borghaerts, a master’s student studying Innovation Management, took part in the Social Entrepreneurship Masterclass (SEM) organised by ECE Students at Erasmus University. “This is a month-long accelerator programme in which students take their ideas for social entrepreneurship and develop them to an early-stage start-up.” Borghaerts followed the course with Gloria Marin, a first-year International Communication & Media student.

“We want to launch a donation app together. After a lot of research, we have found that the percentage of people between the ages of 16 and 30 who donate to charities has fallen from 8 to 3 per cent over the last 30 years. The traditional NGO’s have therefore not been able to hold on to the support of the younger generations.”

Borghaerts wants to launch the One Euro Project; a digital service that enables people to support a charity from just one euro a month, and they can cancel their donations at any time. “We want to stand out from the rest by using gamification. Donating to charity shouldn’t be seen as a thing of the past anymore, but rather of the future.”

By joining ECE Students, Borghaerts and Marin gained access to a network of creative and innovative students and entrepreneurs, high-quality workshops and work space where they could get to work on their ideas. “During the SEM programme, we learned, for example, how we could best develop our business model using the Business Model Canvas. We also learned a lot during the pitching workshop. All in all, I’m really glad we got involved.”


You can read all about phase 1 on Thursday, 28 April, when we’ll be telling you about where you can start, how you can get the capital and who your competitors are.