StartUp - Sanna Winkelman of Delreco
Delreco is short for Delivery, Repair, and Collect, which is exactly what this company does: delivering furniture, refurbishing it, and collecting it for international students. The students get to sleep in furnished rooms while also contributing to a sustainable use of furniture and reducing waste.
Sanna Winkelman started Delreco together with Lars Laumen and Dionne Zwier during their Student Company course. “We all loved entrepreneurship and noticed that we worked well together. During our course, we discovered that we all had a similar vision. We understand that you can’t solve all the world’s problems by yourself, but we do want to help.”
During a tour of their campus, they ran into two problems. “Delreco solves both problems at the same time. Finding a room as an international student is very difficult; they can’t bring their own furniture, so they have to look for furnished student housing. Those rooms are very expensive and sought-after, so it’s difficult to qualify for them. The other issue is that any furniture they buy here has to be thrown away once they return home; selling isn’t really an option because of their tight schedule. If you’re flying home on September 1, you can’t sell your bed on August 26, because you still have to sleep.”
We can do better
Sanna and her co-founders decided that this situation could and should be improved. “Both the issue of housing and excess waste can be solved. Look at the forest fires in Greece and Turkey or the flooding in Limburg: we have to do something about climate change and this is our way to contribute. We collect furniture from international students, restore it, and reuse them. This means less stress for the students and less waste for us.”
Sanna noticed that the students also want to help solve the waste problem, but they don’t have the opportunity to do so. “Their rented rooms often have to be emptied before they move out, which makes it nearly impossible to sell your furniture on Marktplaats. Moving internationally is already a stressful experience and it saddens us to see that the furniture buying and selling process only adds to this.”
Voice of the Future
Delreco participated in the Voice of the Future competition, an initiative of Ace 6 Events and StartUp Nijmegen. In this competition, entrepreneurs with a well-thought-out business plan but little to no experience get the opportunity to win a year-long membership to StartUp Nijmegen. “We won the pitch at Van der Valk Hotel, allowing us to start our own company at StartUp. This was a definite moment of pride for us!”
Their first meeting at StartUp was on July 1, and on July 2 they officially registered their business. “All of a sudden, it was a very real and tangible thing. We’d already done a lot of research into our target audience during the beginning stages of our project. We still expected some constructive criticism from international students, however, but instead everyone was very excited.” Delreco recently helped their first student find a furnished room. “We were very touched by how happy he was with our service. He showed us texts from his friends who’d also decided to study in the Netherlands, and they were all hauling their newly-bought furniture around in rented vans and taxis.”
An initiative like StartUp is the ideal place for Sanna and her colleagues to start their business. “The various meeting rooms were very important for us; we’re a group of three people, so it’s crucial that we can discuss everything before coming to any definitive conclusions. Having access to separate rooms with their own doors makes this process a lot easier.”
Additionally, Sanna notices that everyone at StartUp is always ready to share their thoughts and experiences. “You’re surrounded not just by other entrepreneurs who have their own business plans, but also by StartUp’s partners who are eager to share their experience with you. The fact that they’re all from different sectors and backgrounds is also a great help: there’s always someone who will understand which issues you’re running into and how to solve them.”
“One of those partners once told us that it’s always good to get advice, but you still have to do your own thing. That conversation in particular really helped us. At a certain point in time, you’ve had so many different ideas and heard so much advice that you start losing focus. Keeping your head together and participating in conversations with clear goals in mind helps a lot. We learned that you’re allowed to expect certain things from those who give you advice, which was a crucial lesson for us.”
In this blog series, The Life Net and StartUp Nijmegen like to show what an attractive region Nijmegen is to start and establish as an entrepreneur. It spotlights various internationals or companies that attract internationals. They like to share their inspiring story about how they started and grew with their business. Check StartUp Nijmegen for how they pay attention to this.