Meet Mercator Launch’s program manager

Name: Brechtje Vreenegoor
Occupation: Program Manager & Business Coach @ Mercator Launch
Life quote:  “You never fail until you stop trying” –  Albert Einstein
Wakes up at night for: Good news from supported entrepreneurs

We spoke with one of the initiators of Mercator Launch: Brechtje Vreenegoor. Brechtje is Program manager & coach at Mercator Launch. She recently joined Radboud Innovation but feels right at home on campus, even though she is a business coach. No wonder, Brechtje sees innovation and entrepreneurship everywhere!

Brechtje, now a StartUp coach, studied law and business administration at Radboud University. After finishing her studies, she realized she needed to find a job in the “grown-up world,” as she called it. However, she was not sure what she wanted to do for a living. She ‘accidentally’ got involved in developing and managing innovation projects. A great experience because she got to see all kinds of innovative companies from the inside. Ever since, she has been working with enthusiastic entrepreneurs, mostly start-ups, that intend to change the world by bringing new products or services to the market. Now she is back at the University, where she is responsible for Mercator Launch and will be coaching the start-ups on campus.

“On Campus there are so many enthusiastic people with extremely good ideas. They want turn their ideas into something bigger but they are not sure how. We can help those people get started.” Brechtje is excited about Mercator Launch and its goal to help entrepreneurs grow as a person while boosting new ideas, new careers and new businesses. “By helping these entrepreneurs, I get to make a difference and contribute to changing the world indirectly. That is just awesome!”

if you think about becoming an entrepreneur, Brechtje believes the Nijmegen campus is the place-to-be. It basically offers start-ups everything they need. For years now, the campus has invested in all kinds of entrepreneurial courses, housing, state-of-the art facilities, but also funds to get started. With Mercator Launch it has added a place for entrepreneurs to meet likeminded people and get in touch with customers, investors and coaches to support and guide them. The region itself will also boost your company. It has a startup friendly ecosystem with many accelerators, incubators and investors. And even though Nijmegen is only 1 hour from Amsterdam, it doesn’t have traffic jams, office space is available at a normal price and the city is located near Germany, where many business opportunities await.

Why haven’t you heard of all this before? Because the people in Nijmegen are really down to earth, Brechtje explains. They are simply too modest and humble compared to other parts of the country. Mercator Launch will show the real potential of this campus and this region!

When we asked Brechtje about the biggest mistake you can make in entrepreneurship, she said: “The biggest mistake is arrogance. If you are arrogant, nobody is willing to help you and you will probably not succeed in business. Business is not only about business, it is mostly about people.” Brechtje also thinks that it is really important to focus on your business and that it takes time and efforts to start something up from scratch.

“Collect feedback from experts and improve yourself and your business all the time. But always hold on to your principles.”

— Brechtje

Entrepreneurial Mind of the month: Eef Lamers

Name: Eef Lamers
Business: Gight
Occupation: Student and entrepreneur
Life quote: “I am too young to have a life quote.”
Wakes up in the middle of the night for: Games

On a sunny winter’s day, we met up with Eef Lamers at the Heyendaal Campus. Eef is a physics Master student at Radboud University and he has his own startup: Gight, a system that helps to prevent elderly from falling down when they get up at night. We talked with Eef about being a student entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, passion and the future.

Eef is a Master student at Radboud University. When he decided to take a course on entrepreneurship, his whole world changed. Together with fellow students, Robert and Joris, he developed a so-called guiding light out of led strips. When the led-strip senses movement, lights automatically turn on and guides a person from their bed to their bathroom. It is especially useful for the elderly. This way they help to prevent them from falling at night, which could cause injuries.

When the entrepreneurs developed the guiding light, they came in touch with the Jurgens Fonds, a fund that supports social entrepreneurs. Then the team of Gight was invited to participate in a program to prepare them for developing their business. This opened many doors for Gight. “We were invited to pitch at a big event, where we met many new people. Among them was the alderman of Oss. We were searching for a place where we could do a pilot. We developed the guide light, it was working and we needed to test the impact of our product with elderly. The alderman became enthusiastic and offered us to fund half of a pilot in Oss. The other half we had to raise ourselves.” 

Then the team of Gight managed to get the other half of the funding at a healthcare organisation in Brabant. They were able to start a pilot! Right now the pilot is still running until June 2018. They have more than 70 participants. “We already have our very first office and production area here in Nijmegen. Our team also grew. We have students helping us every now and then.”

Eef told us that he especially enjoys learning from this project. He gains some practical experience after studying for over five years. “Making money is not our main focus. As a student you gain a lot of knowledge during your study. But you are not applying it in the real world. I see it as giving something back to society with the knowledge I gained over the years.” Eef learned many things by building up his own business. He told us that a plan is for example really essential when you want to build something up from scratch. However, you do not need a plan of 50 pages, he beliefs. “Don’t go blind on the details. And just do it. Be brave”

Five years ago, Eef would not have been so brave. Calling a paper or a radio station would not even be on his to do list, as he did not think he would have anything interesting to tell them for an article. Now he just does it without any hesitation. Being an entrepreneur gives you courage to do things out of your comfort zone. “Being an entrepreneur in Nijmegen is also really interesting. In the city, entrepreneurship is really dynamic and there are many entrepreneurs here. We have a lot of interesting things going on at the campus. However, we do not really show that to the rest of the world.”

 The Gight team

“ It’s really important to have one person or organisation you trust. You can blow off some steam and get some new insights and advices.”

— Eef

The best idea for Mercator Launch? Win a trip to Slush, Helsinki!

Do you have the best idea for Mercator Launch? Win a trip to Slush (Helsinki), the coolest startup event in Europe!

On May16th we will officially kick-off with Mercator Launch! We are very excited to present you the entrepreneurship program we have developed and show the location (hub) where it all will happen.

What is Mercator Launch? Mercator Launch is a pre-incubator located at the Heyendaal Campus in Nijmegen. We invite entrepreneurial minds at campus and support them with the translation of their (business) concept into a viable product, service or event. We connect starting entrepreneurs with experts, advisors, investors & funders, leading entrepreneurs, government agencies and corporates in order to launch new ideas into society. Because together we innovate faster!

We are looking for the golden idea for Mercator Launch

We are looking for engagement with our students, phd’s and teachers. Therefore, we would like to know how we can advance Mercator Launch and boost the hub where ideas take off. How can we help students to make their idea concrete? What has to be absolutely present at the Mercator Launch hub? How can we built the entrepreneurial community at campus? Or what has to be done to attract the entrepreneurs of the future?

Submit your golden idea for Mercator Launch, come to our Grand Opening on 16th of May and maybe you’re the one going to SLUSH on 4 and 5 December 2018! Mercator Launch will take care of your ticket, travel and lodging costs. Read more about SLUSH here.

Ready to share your idea with us? Please let us know if you attend the opening!

Name *
Are you present at the opening May 16th? *

Also register yourself on this link for the opening of Mercator Launch on May 16th, 2018!