Olivier Momma, 23, used to live next to Rotterdam pub Locus Publicus. So yes, it was there that he and fellow student Rick Scharnigg, 24, came up with the idea for a company that is now worth millions. Even though they were a little worse for wear at the time.

Company: Ekster Wallet (turnover: €1.5 million)

Invented by: Olivier Momma and Rick Scharnigg

Invented at: Locus Publicus

Invented after: five or six glasses of beer

Have they got their degrees yet? Yes

It was 2014. Momma used to visit the highly popular pub at Oostplein several times a month, generally with a large group of friends. “It’s the classic hang-out in Kralingen. If you feel like a pint, this is where you go.”

On this particular Friday evening, Momma was not with a group. He does not remember how that came about. It was about 8pm when he entered the pub with his friend Scharnigg, a fellow student and also a member of the same student society. They seated themselves at a table downstairs, at a window. Two gadget freaks enjoying a few beers.


The majority of their conversations were about technology. Generally they would start talking about this within minutes, once they had finished discussing the usual stuff – ‘our degrees, our families, that sort of thing’. In their leisure time they would search the Internet, looking for existing equipment that left some room for improvement, just like Apple had been doing for years. Earlier that day, they had stumbled on an article about Bluetooth trackers, which appealed to both of them.

Because they wanted to be entrepreneurs too. They had been disappointed before. The two students had spent a few months in the USA together, studying and trying to establish a company of their own. Due to distractions and a lack of time, it had not worked out. However, their dream never died. “We felt that existing products should be improved. We thought we spotted a business prospect.”

Drinking a lot

And so they whipped out their phones at Locus. “That’s what we always did. So we’d say to each other: ‘Hey, I saw this cool tracker online today.’ And the other would say: ‘Really? Well, I saw such and such a thing.’”

This Friday evening marked the first time they inspired each other. They discussed the idea of ‘really going for it’. It was now or never, they felt. “When you are a student, you can fail without any consequences. We had no choice but to go for it.” They had no more than a kernel of an idea at the time. “But that night we became really enthusiastic about the plan. We then carried on drinking a lot and went home at half past twelve, completely off our heads. We agreed that we would discuss the plan later.”

A beer and a chat

This was the beginning of a ‘very slow process’. They regularly met to discuss their idea, i.e. creating a smart wallet. “We’d have a beer and a chat. There was no binge-drinking.”

The pub was perfect for this. “Locus is known for being a pub where people chat and discuss things, rather than a pub where people go to party. It’s a decent kind of place. It’s a good place for a discussion and a quiet conversation. They have a living fire in a hearth. All these things help.”