Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship is a recognized Startup Visa Facilitator for international innovative startup entrepreneurs. For one year, we provide these entrepreneurs with support and mentorship to develop their businesses within the Dutch ecosystem. Each month we ask one of our Startup Visa participants to share their story. This month we spoke to Jason Chang, founder of Narraty.
Jason considers himself a global citizen and is committed in contributing to issues of diversity and inclusion. To that end, and in order to connect to people, he regularly does volunteer work at a refugee camp. Coincidentally, this is where he met his Dutch co-founder Lisa Lambert. Together they founded Narraty, a digital platform that focuses on diversity and inclusion (D&I) impact. “We film different entrepreneurs and show what is raw, what is natural and what is very human about them, because we believe that the things that are not seen are in fact very important, and that they contribute a lot to the local community in multiple ways.”
Narraty: inspiring diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship
When asked about how he came up with the idea of a video platform to showcase diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship, Jason says: “Corona actually helped us to pivot in a nice way because everything became digital, and I also narrowed down the target group to ‘entrepreneurs’, who were the low-hanging fruit for me.” Indeed, Jason’s original idea called the Quick Museum centred around people’s experience in a museum, with the aim of making a museum visit accessible to everyone. Despite the pivot, he maintained people and inclusion as the drivers of Narraty: “By doing research and talking to people on the ground, I came to understand that nearly 85% of entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are Dutch born but the lack of data on their backgrounds prompted me to build the platform to understand how included they were in the cities they worked in.”
Before applying for the Startup Visa, Jason lived in the Netherlands already. It was a conscious choice to stay, he says. “Why I am still here? I really like how people are open and receptive to ideas in general. You can really feel the innovation-culture in the Netherlands. And not just the audience, but also policymakers are very receptive with a kind of ‘we want to do this alongside you’-attitude. This makes it a really attractive place for me, and the place where we want to grow Narraty. We developed a diversity and inclusion framework, that we want to use to contact policymakers in order to start measuring it.”
A unique opportunity
As a recognized RVO startup facilitator, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship also acts as a mentor, providing the entrepreneur with overall support. Entrepreneurs from different sectors are accepted in the Startup Visa programme. In Jason’s case, whose startup was still called the Quick Museum back then, this proved particularly favourable. “I think I was very conscious about my own socio-cultural approach to entrepreneurship. I did not know how many people would like it, but after the initial interview I had with ECE, I really liked how my idea was taken on in the sense that it would also contribute to the policy setting in the creative sector. That made me aware that the organization was receptive not just to an idea I had, but also interested to contribute to something bigger.”
Offering the link between theory and practice
For Jason, the access to academic and practical knowledge about entrepreneurship forms a valuable part of the Startup Visa programme, saying “I think ECE really offers the link between theory and practice. For example, for me the customer journey was a very tangible tool, which helped me to pivot and challenge myself by asking questions like ‘how should I visualize this?’, ‘how will my customers react to my product?’ and so on. I can see tangible results!” Another element of the programme is coaching, which Jason received from many different people with different expertise. “My session with Ferdinand (Dr. Ferdinand Jaspers is our Programme Director), talking about the mission model canvas, was one of my favourite moments. We also had a nice session with Robbin (Robbin Hoogstraten is the Commercial Director at Symbid), when I realized that we need an alignment with investors. While some types of investors might not be appropriate, I learned more about institutional investors, who could be the people to fund us. Now we are directing our efforts to get in touch with them.”
Focusing on building content and gradually introducing different revenue models to the platform over the next months, Jason’s long-term goal for Narraty is to see the diversity and inclusion framework that he developed together with his co-founder truly contribute to the national agenda on D&I.
“At some point in the past months, me and my co-founder sat down together and thought about our values, and how to deal with the current coronacrisis. We decided to continue working remotely and to rethink allocation of our resources: this has been great because we constantly meet entrepreneurs who want to be filmed and be part of our story,” said Jason. His advice to fellow entrepreneurs relates to the often-lengthy process of finding a co-founder. “When it comes to finding a partner or a co-founder, I would say don’t push the process, don’t force it. It’s key to everything. If something needs time to grow, let it grow. Baby steps!”
Want to know more about Jason’s entrepreneurial journey with Narraty? Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the Narraty platform here and go here to watch the video about Katty Hsu, a member of our Research and Startup Programmes Team!
Applying for Startup Visa Facilitator programme
International innovative entrepreneurs have the possibility to apply for the programme throughout the year. With a startup visa, international startups have one year to start an innovative company in the Netherlands. On the Startup Visa Facilitator page you can find all the information you need, including a brochure.