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High-potential student entrepreneurs combine study & business at Erasmus University Rotterdam

18 June 2020

Entrepreneurship among students is on the rise and more and more ambitious student entrepreneurs are discovering that successfully combining their studies and running a business can be challenging. Student entrepreneurs either spend less time on their startup or study resulting in dropouts or bankruptcy. One person who is willing to take on this challenge is Rachel Zhang, Master student Financial Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, who will be supported by the Erasmus’ Talented Student Entrepreneurs Programme.

On top of providing a home for entrepreneurs on our Campus and support through our startup programmes and other training of networking activities, we offer the Talented Student Entrepreneur Programme (TSEP) to support high-potential student entrepreneurs from Erasmus University Rotterdam. As the first university where you can combine your studies with your own company, we’ve supported high-potential student entrepreneurs in running their businesses successfully due to their study and not despite of their study to prevent drop-outs. Martin Luxemburg, director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship: ‘With TSEP, students are provided with the infrastructure that supports them in combining their startup and studies. This way students with entrepreneurial passion will no longer have to face the tough choice of pursuing their studies or pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.’

Similar to support programmes for students who are competitive athletes, the Talented Student Entrepreneur Programme assist high-potential student entrepreneurs from Erasmus University in combining their studies with running their businesses. The programme provides student entrepreneurs with a personal study advisor, support in achieving their educational objectives, membership to the ECE community, pre-eminence in the selection procedures for our startup programmes and of course: access to the TSEP network.

Developing a network and community of entrepreneurs
Previous participants speak highly of it noting the benefits of network access and case manager support being key to their successful completion of their studies together with the growth of their business. One of this year’s participant is Rachel Zhang, co-founder of Lilan Art, a professional licensing management and art consulting company. During a workshop at the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship for her Bachelor Study, she first heard about the programme. ‘The presented success stories strengthened the need for me in the completion of my study, while simultaneously growing my startup. I immediately thought the location was a great hub for ambitious students, alumni and innovative entrepreneurs to meet.”

By joining the programme, Rachel will be connected to a personal study advisor to address aligning study duties and business obligations such as meeting investors or customers. The programme allows to organise her study more flexibly according to her business needs, e.g. in terms of time schedules and class participation. “As of this moment, I am able to relate a lot of what is mentioned in lectures and seminars with my business practice but I hope to bring more academic knowledge into the business I’m doing. Furthermore, I hope to improve my time management when it comes to combining my work and study together.”

Education and Entrepreneurial support
The programme allows participants to organise their studies more flexibly according to their business needs, e.g. in terms of time schedules and class participation. Next to the academic support, TSEP participants are integrated in our startup programmes, as well as in our overall entrepreneurial community. This combination of educational and entrepreneurial support can help produce successful alumni that are also strong entrepreneurs.

Some of the previous TSEP student-entrepreneurs include the founders of Seepje, Ekster, VR Owl, Checq, Celestial Footwear, Fray.it and AmericanCups. It will be interesting to follow Rachel’s process throughout this programme and we are excited to find out what she will have achieved at the end of it. “Most importantly, I would like to share experiences with other peers and have the ability to learn from each other,” said Rachel.

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