Dutch Students Reduce Smog, Increase Profits

Ruben Antvelink and Frank Schouten are two of the millions of students around the world participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-21. Ruben and Frank are co-founders of Eco Tuk B.V. in the Netherlands. Eco Tuk offers environmentally-friendly solutions for auto rickshaws. The company won the 2010 Wozzie Award, created by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to stimulate creative scientific talent.

Ruben Antvelink and Frank Schouten

In 2005, the two of us started our bachelor of automotive engineering program at the HAN University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen) in Arnhem, Netherlands. After a couple of regular student jobs and participating in a minor business venture, we were convinced that entrepreneurship was the direction to go to and started the successful company, Your Car Import.

HAN University decided to enter in the Hybrid TukTuk Battle in May 2008. This battle was focused on creating a simple add-on solution for the highly polluting and gas guzzling Indian auto rickshaws, better known as TukTuks. HAN University asked us to lead the business team. We had to create a feasible business model and a plan to market the solution.

During the final event in Chennai, India, the jury experts proudly announced that the Eco Tuk team won the Hybrid TukTuk Battle due to its solution, which reduced the TukTuk’s operating costs and pollution:

  • Reduction of 54 percent fuel costs
  • Reduction of 40 percent CO2
  • Reduction of 99 percent small particle emissions (main cause of smog)

With the grand prize in our pockets and Indian companies interested, we investigated the opportunities to market the solution all over India and eventually started the company Eco Tuk B.V.

Eco Tuk’s development team is busy with lowering costs and prototyping their solution called “LPG-LDI,” while the two of us are busy finding the right partners to produce, assemble and sell the kit all over India.  (LPG is a fuel, and LDI stands for Liquefied Direct Injection.)

The LPG-LDI solution is designed to serve one of the world’s poorest societies in which most individuals don’t earn enough money to buy an Eco Tuk conversion kit. To serve these communities, Eco Tuk has introduced a business model similar to your mobile phone contract.

The Eco Tuk conversion kit makes the world’s poorest societies allies in the environmental and climate issues, while the two of us make profit.

To keep up with developments from Frank and Ruben, follow them on twitter @EcoTuk.

An Italian Silicon Valley?

Marcello Orizi is one of the millions of students around the world participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-21. He is co-founder and software strategist for Prossima Isola, an innovative information and communication technologies company in Sardinia, Italy. He also leads two startups, WhereIsNow and Abbuydda.

Marcello Orizi

Three years ago, I resigned from a very good job in Switzerland and returned to my birthplace, Sardinia, an island in Italy, to create my professional dream named Prossima Isola (“Next Island”). Prossima Isola is an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) company that aims to be a leading company in innovation.

During the last three years, we created a great team of 10 people and have made different projects for our customers. We also launched two startups, Abbuydda and WhereIsNow.

Abbuydda is the first social network for aggregated purchases, a way to repeatedly buy products together with other people belonging to the same group. The goal is to offer producers a new way to sell a guaranteed volume of goods at a better price.

WhereIsNow introduces the concept of self-updating documents, removing the problem of knowing where the latest version of a given document is now. It best fits with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, where a lot of important documents are shared among people who usually use different systems to manage documents.

Recently we joined a co-working network (Cowo) in order to host many individuals inside our offices and create a place where people can share ideas and talents.

I like to consider myself a romantic entrepreneur, and I enjoy creating networks with other entrepreneurs who share this vision. Daniele Idini, my friend and co-founder at Prossima Isola, is surely this kind of entrepreneur.

Last year, Daniele and I were selected to participate in a road show in Silicon Valley, California, and New York City as finalists of the Italian “Mind the Bridge” business plan competition. These places, especially Silicon Valley, gave us the inspiration to try to create a similar environment in Sardinia, Italy … a dream.

Learn more about Marcello and his projects at his blog.

Serbian Biz Owner Gives Advice to Other ‘Geeks’

Sinisa Rudan is one of the millions of students around the world participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-21. He is founder and owner of Magic Wand Solutions Studio, an IT consultancy and outsourcing company. Sinisa is also the multimedia editor of InfoM, a Journal of Information technology and multimedia systems. To learn more about Sinisa’s work, visit his website.

Sinisa Rudan

Magic Wand Solutions (MWS) offers clients innovative IT solutions — information systems, Web/CD presentations, Internet marketing campaigns — driven by everyday research, enriched with a multimedia approach.  I would like to share with others some principles that have helped MWS become the successful company it is today.

Entrepreneurs should find the balance between their personal mission and the mission of their business.  I choose clients and partners that offer challenging interdisciplinary projects that cry out for creativity. At MWS, we have several well-known organizations and celebrities as clients or partners in Serbia and around the world.

Most IT “geeks” have not finished studies that would give us management skills, and that is a problem. Even if you are the best in your field, you still need to make your team the best. I suggest attending a variety of business management seminars among others.  After receiving certification in internet business planning and marketing, we built several business plans for our projects and offered more complete solutions to clients, from development to marketing. Now we focus more on complex international projects.

Often beginners make the mistake of focusing only on production. Never devote less than 10 percent of your resources to research and improvement of your processes. Only this way can you provide cutting-edge solutions.

Although it is nice to be an IT consultancy and outsourcing company, it is even nicer to enjoy building our own products. At MWS, we are finding new ways to make our own ideas appeal to investors and customers.

I put myself 100 percent into a project, but I often see people who — after putting themselves 75 percent into it – say, “I have put enough of myself into this” or “I don’t want to lose more time!” The truth is, if the project doesn’t achieve success, then all of the invested time is lost.

We are taught to take business rationally, to focus on profit. However, I suggest that if you feel a particular project is good for you — even a non-commercial one — take it, because it will advance your skills or expand your network, possibly bringing you other, more-profitable projects. Choose projects you love. Do your business from the heart, and business comes to you!

‘Amazing Projects’ on Brazilian Campus

Roberto Fermino, of Brazil, is one of the millions of students around the world participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-21. He is an entrepreneur in e-commerce and helps coordinate entrepreneurship activities at the Universidade de São Paulo. (He also wishes he had 30-hour days to finish his engineering degree.) You can follow Roberto on twitter @RobertoFermino.

Roberto Fermino

As many enterpreneurs, I have failed in new projects more than I have triumphed. But as in the stock market logic, I learned to set the stop-loss limits wisely and liquidate the maximized earnings. The comparison ends here, because in entrepreneurship you can play with building the future, not limiting yourself to observe some numbers in an electronic panel.

It’s toward the future that entrepreneurship moves me, creating a scenario for a better tomorrow. In this context, I am in love with new projects that I have been helping to build at “my” University, Universidade de São Paulo (USP). The aim is to identify and support many activities throughout the University, creating a group to promote enterpreneurship.

There are many years of work ahead of us, as there are almost 100,000 students in seven cities, eleven campuses and dozens of facilities. Harvard, for instance, has one fifth of the students USP has. On our campuses, as at Harvard, there are real enterpreneurs — fantastic, committed people, working on amazing projects. I hope to help their projects succeed.

We solved part of this problem with an online platform for crowdsourcing. At this platform people can share ideas and projects, and it brings entrepreneurs separated by physical barriers closer. Junior Enterprises and local Entrepreneurship Clubs have also been successful in organizing different events and spreading the entrepreneurial culture.

I believe we are on the right path and I intend to keep playing with building the future, helping to strengthen these projects and always accepting new challenges. Furthermore, I’d like to conclude by sharing a piece of advice that changed my way of seeing things: “Help build something important, do volunteer work and your rewards will go beyond what money can buy.”

University of Sao Paulo (English and Portuguese)
USP social network for new businesses (Portuguese)

Hard Times Motivate Icelandic Entrepreneur

Johanna Björg Christensen, of Iceland, is one of the millions of students around the world participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15-21. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of NUDE magazine and a Global Entrepreneurship Week ambassador.

NUDE magazine is a free online fashion magazine, the only one of its kind in Iceland.  In fact there aren’t many like it in the world, with videos and flash graphic. It comes out once a month, and our first issue was in March this year. A few days later the company won the 3rd prize in a contest of the best business ideas in Iceland 2010.

I lived in Denmark for many years where I also got my education as a Multimedia Integrator in 2002. Since then I have been working as a Graphic Designer and a Marketing Director.

A little over a year ago I lost my job when I was on a maternity leave as the company I worked for went bankrupt in the recession. Marketing and Graphic Design jobs can be hard to come by, especially when times are tough, and the recession hit really hard in Iceland. I had to think of new ways to make a living and decided to combine my two biggest interests — fashion and graphic design — and start my own magazine.

At first it was really scary, in fact it sometimes still is. Will people like it? Will it be a success or will I fall flat on my face? 

Thankfully that didn’t happen and people really like the magazine which today has over 9,000 subscribers. That is pretty impressive, considering there are only a little over 300,000 people in Iceland.

Since the first issue came out the magazine has really taken on its own life. Things have been happening so fast it can be hard to keep up, but in a really good way. I am so thankful for the experience I have gotten so far and really look forward to the future.

Bestu kveðjur / Best regards
Jóhanna Björg Christensen
Ritstjóri / Editor in chief

NUDE Magazine

NUDE Magazine