Hardstart, an entrepreneurial hub for students

Hardstart, an entrepreneurial hub for students

What is HardStart?

13427724_667825133370974_1783656147938765348_nAerial shot from Hardstart office’s balcony in Bastille (copyrights: AERvideo.com)

Founded by Nick Schijvens along with other students from the University of Twente, Hardstart is a student association and most importantly a place to be for every entrepreneur on the campus. Located in Bastille’s first floor, the “Startup Hub” welcomes you for many events (“Pitch that B*tch”, “Funding Nemo”, …) but also during week days at any time if you are seeking for information and advices from entrepreneurs.

Hardstart’s motivation aren’t simply focused on business performances, it is also about the people behind these projects: it is about creating a community of young entrepreneurs, helping each other to improve and keeping the motivation up!

To learn more about Hardstart I went to “Booze 2 Business”, a casual networking event organised in their office, on May 26th to bring you an interview with Nick Schijvens, one of Hardstart’s founders, and two of the most active startups there: AER and XP Radar.

Interview: Nick Schijvens

12651160_1685785521681157_1730539956876324302_nNick Schijvens, 22 years old Creative Technology student from Stadskanaal (copyrights: Hardstart.nl)

Hello Nick and thank you for your time! Let’s start with a simple yet important question: Did you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

“It may not be that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I always did not like the other option: being a simple employee.”

In a few words, what was your goal when founding HardStart?

“We saw that there were no community around entrepreneurship. There are many parties helping entrepreneurs in Twente but there was no place for them to meet regularly.

Students would stick with people from their own study and work from their dorm rooms, which makes them hard to find. The association was created after we managed to gather entrepreneurs, with that social aspect in mind: share our experience with each other.”

Could you describe the stages you took from the concept to this place in Bastille?

“Hardstart unofficially started a year ago by gathering a team in university’s project rooms, which were quickly to small for us to develop.

Then we managed to get a budget for an office via one of our founder, Jasper Driessens, who is a also board member at the Student Union with an aim on entrepreneurship. Once that first office became too small, the university allowed us to move to our current location for further developments.”

Concretely, how can Hardstart help Twente students with their business project?

“Via networking, we mainly offer experience from other entrepreneurs.

We share our contacts and information to help you find the right solutions for your project: for example there are many things you can get from Kennispark but most of the students don’t know about it.

Just come by our office and ask us anything, chances are that someone with the right answer will be around!”

What are the future steps in Hardstart’s development?

“We want to strengthen our board to build a bigger community. The board now consist of 7 students from different studies (mainly CreaTe, Industrial design and business and IT) but we also have very active members on the side.”

What is your best/worse memory so far as an entrepreneur?

“We had a great moment yesterday with AER: our team had a chance to pitch our product to Chris Anderson (founder of several drone related companies, including “3D Robotics, a worldwide known American drone manufacturing company).”

He liked our pitch and was very enthusiastic about our concept, it will hopefully lead to a collaboration to take AER to the next level.

Finally, what is the main quality required to be a successful entrepreneur in your opinion?

“You really have to love your idea, believe in it. Have a purpose for your startup that is more than simply being an entrepreneur, having a company or making a lot of money.”

Interviews: AER and XP Radar

Let’s now discover two of Hardstart’s most promising project with 2 short interviews.

XP Radar with Ibrahim Elfaramawy

Xpradar.com screenshot

Project Members: Ibrahim Elfaramawy, Max Möllers and Joshua de Bie

What is your concept?

Xpradar.com is an online platform to find gamers with similar taste in your area. It aims to gather people for local/couch gaming.”

How and when did the project start?

“It started last summer with Max’s idea. We both had an appeal for online application and gaming and decided to share our neighbors gaming experience to build a platform for people to gather and play.”

What makes your product better than the competition (if any)?

“Similar websites almost always focus on a certain platform: PC, Xbox, Playstation, …On xpradar.com you can find players for any platform, including the previous generations of consoles for example.”

What is the next big step in your startup’s development?

“We are right now in an open alpha testing phase and our next step is to improve the user experience by analysing efficiently players’ habits on the platform.

There are also plans for a “radical” marketing approach: bring the platform to the street with on-site gaming or attempt to break the video game couch playing time record (~36h now) live on Twitch.”

How did Hardstart helped you with your project?

“Mainly the feedback from other entrepreneurs (very important for simple first things like the company’s logo or name). The “Pitch that B*tch” events encouraged us a lot to improve our pitch and show improvement over time.”

Where can we keep in touch with XP Radar?

“Visit our platform on xpradar.com and feel free to give us feedback at info@xpradar.com as we take care of answering any question users may have. You can also follow us on facebook.


AER with Mark de Boer

AER launch trailer (copyrights: AERvideo.com)

Project Members: Mark de Boer, Nick Schijvens and Pablo Levin

What is your concept?

“AER is a GoPro accessory to take beautiful aerial shots. It looks like a “beach toy” and it is designed to protect the camera when being thrown around to capture cool footage.”

How and when did the project start?

“It started in October 2015, when Nick and I were working on a project together. We wanted to document it with a video including a cool aerial shot in a fort. After several attempts Nik came up with a proof of concept and we started prototyping to obtain stable images from there.”

What makes your product better than the competition (if any)?

“There is a similar product on the market but it only focus on picture taking while AER offers a solution to take smooth aerial video shots.”

What is the next big step in your startup’s development?

“We are now dealing with the manufacturing parameters required to bring our product to the consumer market. Our second important step is a Kickstarter campaign to help us financing the production of AER.”

How did Hardstart helped you with your project?

“It is mainly the social aspect that helped us staying on point and keeping the motivation up. Because we are highly involved in both Hardstart and AER, the regular meetings helped us to aim for a higher goal as we are aware that our success could build a strong reputation for Hardstart.”

Where can we keep in touch with AER?

“You can stay in touch via our website aervideo.com, you can also follow our last footages on instagram and all our updates on facebook.

I hope this article made you want to come by their office in Bastille and eventually will lead you to successfully achieve you entrepreneurial goals!

Many thanks to the people at Hardstart that helped me writing this article, special thanks to Nick, Mark and Ibrahim for their time. (and also my editor here at Proto.ink: Thijs!).

Don’t forget to check Hardstart’s website hardstart.nl and most importantly their facebook page if you want to participate to their many events.

25 yo Creative Technology student from France "Quelle est votre plus grande ambition dans la vie ?" "Devenir immortel... et puis... mourir."

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