Tips & tricks from a ‘soft-lander’
Rocio Torres has the ambition to strengthen entrepreneurial approaches with academic knowledge. As a researcher she works on optimizing business models in the agrifood industry by gathering empirical data. Besides that, as an entrepreneur, she gained knowledge from practice during her exchange period at StartLife.
Rocio is founder of RSC Talent, but also teacher and Phd student at the Business & Communication Sciences departments at the University of Malaga. She investigates which strategies in the agrifood sector are proven practice and thus can be applied by many entrepreneurs. Her findings will be published soon but her work can already be read on ResearchGate.
Rocio took part in the soft landing exchange project between StartLife and RSC Talent (Malaga) which officially started in December 2016. Twice she stayed at StartLife and StartHub Wageningen for several months. Next to her research, she also kept her eyes and ears open and gathered strategies to improve entrepreneurial practices in both Spain and the Netherlands. She experienced the value of participating in an exchange program.
Why it is worth joining an exchange project:
Each hub, but also each business, has its own methods. Off course, for an entrepreneur it is valuable to be aware of these differences. On the other hand, participation in an exchange project makes you aware of the common link between these strategies. This could confirm that the strategy might be “proven”. For example, Rocio discovered that developing a good product or service isn’t all that matters. The personal characteristics of the entrepreneur can really make a make or break a business.
All European countries raise different startups. Exchange projects create international synergies; offer and demand are linked. Entrepreneurs get the opportunity to connect with unexplored markets abroad and introduce new business ideas. For example, Spain isn’t familiar with businesses selling insect-products like they do in the Netherlands. The question that always remains is “Can the new idea conquer the new market?”. If it is a good match, it is possible.
Trading and selling abroad can speed up the process of becoming a successful startup. Many startups stay in the developmental phase for a long time and don’t make any profit. When connecting to other countries startups are often forced to develop a (test-)product. This immediately emphasizes the stronger and weaker points of both products or services. So an exchange project can work as a reality check, it answers the question: “Is my business case viable?”.
Interaction with people from another culture expands your scope. You have to get out of your own world, but then it enriches you with new insights. “It enriches your soul”, says Rocio. Besides that, it forces you to change your daily and working rhythm. For example, Rocio had to join the weekly entrepreneurial drinks at StartHub at 5 pm. In Spain she would have been in the middle of her work day at that time. Soon she discovered the value of this networking moment. “It was a moment for reflection with other entrepreneurs. Actually, people that share the same values, give you the most honest feedback possible!”