Jeroen Willemsen (24) - 'Reken Maar Verslagen'
“When I was a student, I noticed that my peers spent a lot of time studying sections that weren’t covered in the examination: they use this big, 800-page tome full of irrelevant exercises, of which only 20 percent actually resurface in the exam. That’s a waste of time.
Which is why in 2015 – after earning my bachelor – I locked myself up in a computer room on campus and started to write summaries for examinations. I started with Business Administration, and later on included Economics and other bachelor programmes. I took a suitcase full of summaries along with me to the lecture hall to hand them out. The lecturer thought it was a very cool idea and allowed me to give a presentation for 800 people! After this, I bought an old printer and a binding machine and before I knew it, I was walking around posting two large shopping bags full of envelopes. Eventually, that was taken over by a printer’s and things really started moving.”
‘If you gave your mother one of our summaries, she’d be able to read it too.’
“Now ‘Reken Maar Verslagen’ offers summaries for 110 courses – and we’ve sold 14,000 copies this year alone. I don’t do it by myself though. We work with over 70 people: Dutch and international students in a variety of programmes. The summaries are written in a lively style and include a lot of examples, links to practice and old exam questions – although we’ve changed the numbers to avoid charges of plagiarism. If you gave your mother one of our summaries, she’d be able to read it too. And they only cost 10 euro a pop.”
“It’s hard work though: right now, I spend one day a week on ‘Reken Maar Verslagen’. I reserve the remainder of the week for other projects – expanding to summaries for secondary schools, for example. But it’s definitely worth the effort: I earn enough to make ends meet. On top of which it’s a huge kick to make life easier for thousands of students – and perhaps secondary school pupils soon too. For example, one evening at Club BED [NORA], a student came over and told me that thanks to my summary, he had scored a nine on his exam, even though he’d only spent two days studying for it. As a student, my life would also have been a lot easier if I had my summary booklets to turn to.”
Reken Maar Verslagen
- Established: 7 April 2015
- Number of employees: 74
- Website: Reken Maar Verslagen
Christiaan Moerkerken (21) and Arthur Roos (22) – ‘Urban Deals’
Moerkerken: “It all started last year, during an assignment for my Business Administration programme. We were looking around the Food Plaza, where you can find a wide range of businesses like Sohmi and Tosti World. They all offer discounts on a regular basis, but they all use their own channel. We decided to make a platform that lists all the relevant discounts for students. So we designed a flyer with a variety of coupons from companies that were interested in taking part. We printed 5,000 copies. And in February, we made a digital version of our idea, in the form of the Urban Deals App. It can be downloaded free of charge.”
Roos: “There are a lot of companies that offer students a discount – both on campus and downtown. But there are huge differences when it comes to redeeming them: in some cases it’s a temporary promotion, in other cases you need a coupon or you may even have to register via Facebook. Our app allows you to browse through all kinds of discounts on your mobile phone. And they can all be redeemed in the same way: you show your student registration card and the app with the coupon and that’s it.”
Moerkerken: “Since we’re also part of the target audience, we know what kind of deals students are interested in. And since students tend to be cash-strapped, they’re always looking for ways to save money. Our app offers discounts from local businesses – Student Bike, for example, or Eetcafé De Stoep on Oostzeedijk – and larger companies like Pathé, Deliveroo and Ben Mobiel. And it works: over the course of eight months, we’ve attracted 6,000 users, who have redeemed nearly 7,000 vouchers. We work on commission, which means we receive a percentage of the proceeds for each voucher that is redeemed. Unfortunately, we can’t make a living off it just yet, but it’s a good start.”
- Established: February 2017
- Number of employees: 2
- Website: Urban Deals
Kenan Muhovic (24) – 'Univize'
“Last year, when I was enrolled in my master programme at EUR, I wondered how we could give prospective students a better idea of what it’s like to study at the university. Univize’s solution is to bring prospective and current students together online.
‘I did wonder a few times whether we would ever succeed in our plans.’
I came up with this concept at the beginning of this year – together with a friend from Ireland and a number of students at Delft University of Technology – and our website went online a few months later. We tested our platform with the help of friends and fellow students from the Netherlands and abroad. Prospective students from all over the world registered with the website and we received a lot of positive feedback. Due to differences of opinion, building up the company around the platform was a bit of a slog. I did wonder a few times whether we would ever succeed in our plans. But now, almost a year on, we’re on the right track. We’re currently working on improving the platform: starting in January, users can also chat via our app.
Univize offers prospective students access to inside information: What’s the local nightlife like? How difficult is it to find a place? Which courses are the hardest? The best people to answer questions like these are the students themselves. After setting up their profile, prospective students are offered a list of students who contribute to Univize. At the top, users find the contributors who are the closest match with their own profile, based on, for example, their nationality, degree programme or shared interests. Right now, our contributors include 12 EUR students, among a total of several hundred students who have offered their help.”
“We have already helped some 300 prospective students – in most cases, people interested in studying at EUR, Maastricht University or the University of Dublin. The students who help them are rewarded for their efforts with a Spotify or Netflix subscription, for example. We aren’t turning a profit yet, but thanks to incubator investments, we have enough funds for the time being to keep moving forward. And I’ve moved back in with my parents, which also helps. Right now, I spend five days a week working on my company. With my degree, I could probably find a well-paid job working for someone else, but I’ve set everything aside to make Univize a success.”
- Established: May 2017
- Number of employees: 2
- Website: Univize