Robin Slakhorst and Korstiaan Zandvliet

Robin Slakhorst and Korstiaan Zandvliet


Programme: MSc Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing, 2010
Currently: Founders Symbid Corporation
Nominated by: Jeroen de Jong, associate professor in strategic management and entrepreneurship

When thinking about a hands-on team of entrepreneurs, Robin Slakhorst and Korstiaan Zandvliet immediately come to mind. With their excellent networking skills, entrepreneurial insights and abilities to attract other students, Robin and Korstiaan launched and developed online crowdfunding platform Symbid. The organisation, which won the Shell LiveWIRE Audience Award in 2011, invests in new, promising, fast-growing businesses to helping other start-up companies get traction by collecting their finance via online crowdfunding. Robin and Korstiaan expect the term ‘crowdfunding’ to change to ‘online finance’ or ‘online investment’ in the future. Before a company is traded on the stock market, anyone can acquire an equity interest and profit by having the foresight to anticipate the company's growth via Symbid.

“With Symbid we aim to change the financial system, to make it more fair and democratised. This will not only result in a more fair balance of wealth allocation, but will also make access to capital for entrepreneurs much easier,” says Robin. “The better we do as a company, the more impact we can have in this world. Current society is too much focused on preventing failure, which stops a lot of people from even trying.” He adds that becoming a little better every day should lead to more success and that it’s the journey that matters, not the outcome. “People shouldn’t accept the status quo; it’s about daring to challenge it and acting to change it.”

Robin says that RSM’s attitude towards critical thinking was the first step towards achieving his goals. “Receiving high-level educational content, working with the world's best students and professors and being challenged by outside professionals is what has given me all the tools to think critically in life.” Robin and Korstiaan are active in alumni-related activities and provide guest lectures at RSM about their experiences with Symbid and other start-ups they’ve been engaged with, including StudentCar.

Korstiaan’s desire to interact with others and influencing them in a positive way drives him forward. “Technology is a method by which we can enhance this social connectedness,” he says. “Symbid connects people, investors and entrepreneurs. The common perception of an entrepreneur's lifestyle is one of self-reliance, independence and sometimes loneliness. On the contrary, it’s the underlying human principle of connectedness which not only drives our business strategy, but also me as an entrepreneur.”

Although he didn’t realise it at time, the can-do mentality in RSM's business and academic culture, laid a foundation for Korstiaan’s perseverance. “It's almost as if the entire school's hierarchy, from the Dean down to student assistants, is allergic to the word 'no',” he says. “RSM encouraged me to challenge my own preconceptions and self-limitations. ‘Why not?’ is now one of my most commonly used phrases.” Korstiaan shares this mindset when encouraging other entrepreneurs not to give up. “I learned that for every locked door there's a key somewhere,” he says. “And otherwise there's always the hammer!”