More than 850 second-year bachelor students worked in small teams to build their own start-up company as part of their curriculum at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). In the annual RSM Entrepreneurship Challenge, which took place in April and June 2021, every team was challenged to come up with an innovative business idea, that after validation could be brought to market. There were three finalists – all with sustainability ideas – who pitched their business proposals in a livestream.

In the bachelor course ‘Entrepreneurship’, students explored their entrepreneurial skills and ambitions. They learned the key elements of entrepreneurship, and why it is indispensable from our economy and society. Part of the course is the RSM Entrepreneurship Challenge, in which students develop a real, innovative business idea in two months. The course is taught by Dr Laura Rosendahl Huber and Dr René Bakker (in the Dutch-taught BSc Business Administration/Bedrijfskunde) and by Dr Anna Nadolska (in the English-taught BSc International Business Administration).

All teams were guided by tutors and entrepreneurial coaches from all kinds of domains. The student-teams could choose the coach in which they were most interested, regarding their initial business idea to optimize their coaching process and their start-up evolution.

A real educational experience

Bedrijfskunde student Lex van den Herik said the entrepreneurship challenge was a real educational experience, thanks to the extensive feedback from their tutor, business coach and fellow students in a practical situation. “Using the theory of The Lean Startup method, this experience clearly showed us the usefulness of feedback while executing a business idea. Looking back we also gained insight over time on the effectiveness of dividing tasks based on personal strengths and agendas for getting way more tasks done!”

The finalists were:

CoffeeFlex, by students Hellen Li, Farahnaaz Margaret, Duy Pham and Tom Roedolf. CoffeeFlex offers a sustainable solution for the plastic elements of coffee cups.

Planet Durable, by students Isabel Beckand Verwée, Fay Declercq, Lex van den Herik, Julian Lutterman, Anne Miedema and Alexander Thuis. Planet Durable is an educational initiative which focuses on helping children understand the sustainable development goals.

Charlotta Green, by students Jan van der Heiden, Marijn Hogendoorn, Sting van den Hombergh, Sanne Janssen and Lars Jennissen. Charlotta Green is a sustainable and fashionable brand for bags and other leather-look accessories made of multiple kinds of woods, such as mango-wood.

Investing capital

All three teams had presented their great ideas to the jury, which was made up of Hadewych Cels (owner of Karmijn, a private equity organization for SME-companies); Frederick Rustler (Hummingbird Fund and scout for Techleap); and Ernst Hoestra (CEO Erasmus Enterprise and Entrepreneur in Residence at INSEAD).

The jury prize went to Planet Durable. The jury was impressed with the way these students already had validated their idea. During the live-stream, all students of the course could also vote for their favourite finalist. This audience prize was won by CoffeeFlex.

The winners of the jury prize and the students’ votes received an investing capital of €750 from the Hummingbird Fund and a student-entrepreneur workplace in the Erasmus Enterprise building. The Charlotta Green team received an investing capital of €250 from the Hummingbird Fund.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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