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.
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.