Young enterpreneur from Netherland on Erasmus exhanges in Slovenia

23. 01. 2018

Young enterpreneur from Netherland on Erasmus exhanges in Slovenia

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries. Joery Schotanus from Netherlands is a young enterpreneur, at the moment on exchanges in CorpoHub, a company in Technology park Ljubljana, Brdo. We discussed about his experience with Erasmus exchange.

Where and what have you heard about the program Erasmus for young entrepreneurs before you applied?

The program is meant for young people to get familiar with entrepreneurial activities. Within the program the focus is on developing your own business, but also to explore a foreign market. Most of the information regarding the exchange I found on the website Erasmus for young Entrepreneurs.

What was the main reason you applied for the program? Where did you find Technology park Ljubljana, that helped you find a company?

As a part of my final thesis last year I developed the Empathy Tool. After receiving good feedback from the company I worked for I decided to explore my options in a foreign country. The Tool is about facilitating empathy, so a good step for me was to force myself into empathizing within new surroundings. And while studying I conducted a research for Ljubljana Tourism, and because of that I got a basic understanding of the Slovene culture. The Erasmus Program gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into the Slovene culture, as well as finding new opportunities for the Empathy Tool. From the start I had the believe this would be a good next step in my entrepreneurial live.

In the Netherlands, and also in Slovenia different organizations are involved in finding successful matches between host entrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs. Technology Park was for me a great opportunity to find people and companies to cooperate with. Also the whole procedure of applying for the program has been really fast, thanks to Mojca Cvirn from Technology Park as well as the Dutch organization. One month after applying I was ready to move to Slovenia.

Is Corpohub your first experience with Erasmus? How are you satisfied with it?

Within my studies I did two more Erasmus exchanges, as mentioned before one in Slovenia, and one in Hungary. Forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone helped me a lot in the past, so I knew the Erasmus program for young entrepreneurs would be a good option for me.

CorpoHub is a very demanding team, I knew that from the start. They have been very helpful in finding opportunities to test the Empathy Tool. On the other hand Lojze Bertoncelj has been closely involved in the whole development procedure, with putting me back on track when needed. On the other hand I have been also involved in some of the daily activities of CorpoHub, for example organizing a hackathon, pitching events and marketing materials. CorpoHub was expecting a proactive attitude, asking questions instead of waiting for them to come to me. I like that way of working, I learned a lot.

On the other hand the language has been a barrier throughout the program, most events where held in Slovene. I understand, and it resulted in a more proactive approach from my side.

How was the selection?

I don’t believe there was any selection. While I was still in the Netherlands I was in contact with Daniela Bervar Kotolenko regarding the application process. I introduced the Empathy Tool to all the CorpoHub members, with a positive response.

Was Slovenia on your wish list of countries?

As mentioned before I wanted to go to Slovenia. I already had some basic understanding of the local culture, and I wanted to extend that. On the other hand I like the country a lot, with all its diversities regarding nature and people, but still everything within close reach.

What, do you think are the benefits for you with this experience? What have you learned so far on the program?

If I want something, that doesn’t mean someone else wants the same. I would say that is my biggest lesson. People I met had in most cases different objectives, not wrong but just different.

And also the language is a barrier. My experience till now is that people in Slovenia perfectly know how to talk English, but are just not always ready to speak. That made it a little more difficult, but I don’t see this as a problem. On business meetings or in a local supermarket, we always managed to communicate. I cannot expect people to switch to English because I don’t understand Slovene, it is about me learning the language as fast as I can. And that is very difficult, but slowly I am improving.

What are your recommendations for other new entrepreneurs?

Don’t expect you host entrepreneur to guide you through the whole process, in the end you have to do it yourself. The program will be over before you know it, and then you have to do it yourself. Within CorpoHub they prepared me for this, but still it is up to me to make a sustainable income out of this project.