Every day at our Smart City & Living program in Amsterdam is filled with exciting activities and learning opportunities. It’s the middle of the 4th week of the accelerator journey, and the 11 startups already visited several workshops on designing the vision and growing better products. Also, they have just had a Job Night during which they had a chance to mingle with more than 60 job seekers, and showcase their business ideas.
For our Smart City & Living #StartupOfTheWeek, we managed to steal a few minutes from Anne and Lotte, sisters and co-founders of the Dutch startup De Vinderij. We were curious to know more about the network platform of students who give care to people from all generations, and sisters told us all about it in this interview.
Tell us about your startup. What problem are you trying to solve?
Nowadays, a lot of people want to outsource household tasks. They might be too busy with their work or social lives or maybe have reached the age when they are just unable to do everything without help. At the same time, it’s very challenging for students to find a good side job. Most of the time the work they get offered is hard, impersonal and low paid.
De Vinderij brings these people in need for help and students together. We do this by offering 3 online matching platforms: OppasStudent helps you find your ideal babysitter, PoetsStudent helps you find a reliable home cleaner, and SeniorenStudent helps elderly people find a personal assistant. We also started a foundation called Stichting SeniorenStudent to help elderly people with a little budget who cannot afford to pay a student themselves.
Not only private customers but also companies hire our students to work for them.
How did you come up with this idea?
6 years ago, when we were students ourselves, we were looking for a side job and promoted ourselves as a babysitting duo on an online platform. The next day, we received more than 50 emails from parents who were desperately looking for a reliable babysitter. That made us realize how hard it is for them to find someone who really fits their families on a personal level. That’s why we decided to start the first agency where students as babysitters and families are matched with each other based on their personalities and interests.
What is the main challenge you are looking to overcome?
Over the past 6 years, we turned our spontaneous idea into a serious business. Today, we have over 15.000 students in our database nationwide. We created 3 well-performing websites, a team of 5 women and financed everything ourselves. Now it’s time for the next step: we are ready for big growth. How do we create the perfect team to realize this dream? How do we negotiate with investors? How do we set up a great (online) marketing strategy? These questions form our main challenge.
Where do you see your startup in the future?
Our goal is to become the greatest supplier of students as caregivers in Europe. We will always combine running a successful company with creating social impact. We want to bring all generations in society together: newborns have their first OppasStudent, students find their ideal side job at De Vinderij, working people hire a student to work for them at home or at their company, and elderly people have a SeniorenStudent to help them with things they cannot do themselves anymore.
What is your greatest achievement up-to-date?
In 2015, we won the prize ‘Soldaten van Oranje’ (which means ‘Soldiers of the Netherlands’) for our work for Stichting SeniorenStudent. This prize is awarded annually to young people who created a solution for a social problem. Because we won the prize, the king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, came to our office to talk with us about the social impact we create!
What is one lesson you would like to share with other entrepreneurs?
We believe the best way to succeed is to start something that is really close to you. Not because you want to become rich, but because you really feel the need to make your idea reality and to contribute something to the world. When you have this strong belief in your own idea, your dedication will be infinite, and one day others will believe in your dream too.
Why is the Netherlands a good place for your startup?
In the Netherlands, it’s not common to have all generations of a family living together in the same house. We are an individualistic country. One million of Dutch families have to outsource such household tasks as taking care of children, cleaning the house and accompanying elderly. Loneliness amongst elderly is one of the biggest social problems of today’s and tomorrow’s society.
At the same time, in our culture, we’re quite selective with who we trust and who we build relationships with. This matches very well with our service because we focus on a personal match between the student as a caregiver and the client as a caretaker.
What are you looking to take away from Startupbootcamp?
As we didn’t have any business education, we see Startupbootcamp as a crash course to gain business skills to add on top off all the practical knowledge we built in the past 6 years. We are very eager to learn how to make a clear strategy to scale in the next years, how to improve our products, how to set up a great nationwide marketing campaign, and how to learn from the successes and mistakes of the Startupbootcamp mentors. Also, we want to start a pilot with health insurances and start collaborating with corporates.
We have already learned a lot and met so many inspiring people in the first two weeks. We are really looking forward to the remaining 2,5 months of the program!
Bovenstaand artikel over de Vinderij verscheen deze week op de site van Startupbootcamp.