Since 2007, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has maintained a special relationship with alumni owning their private company, the so-called alumni entrepreneurs.
Currently, there are more than 160 alumni entrepreneurs known to us, and that list is still growing. In 2019, a survey was conducted among our alumni entrepreneurs, in which 40 people participated. The main findings of this research project are listed below.
A diverse group
The group of VU Alumni Entrepreneurs is very diverse.
- 28% is female, 72% is male
- The youngest alumni entrepreneur is 31 and the oldest is 64 years old
- Graduation year ranges from 1979 to 2013
The figure below shows that the originating faculty is also very diverse.
So far, we have alumni entrepreneurs coming from seven different faculties. The vast majority of university alumni entrepreneurs is represented in the business services sector (61%) and in the information technology sector (19%). In addition, our alumni entrepreneurs are represented in healthcare, retail, education, trade and industry.
The majority of alumni entrepreneurs do not only run one company, but even more than one (56%). Most of the time, they established their startup together with a team of partners (50%) or started the company completely by their selves (36%). Also, many alumni entrepreneurs decided to start their own company during their employment (58%) or during their studies (17%).
The majority of the firms that the alumni entrepreneurs run are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs; 59%), but also solo self-employment (28%) and enterprises with more than 250 employees (8%) are represented. Regarding SMEs, a distinction can be made between micro enterprises (2 to 10 employees: 28%), small businesses (10 to 50 employees: 25%) and medium enterprises (50 to 250 employees: 6%).
Services by and for alumni entrepreneurs
CfE@VU manages the database of VU Alumni Entrepreneurs. According to Enno Masurel, director of CfE@VU, it is a very valuable group for the university: "These people show how studies can not only lead to a good job, but also to a good business."
Furthermore, Masurel is impressed by the helpfulness of the alumni entrepreneurs, with, for example, guest lectures, internships and coaching of student entrepreneurs. In return, alumni entrepreneurs may ask for research results and information in relevant fields of entrepreneurship. They are regularly invited to meetings about these topics as well.
A number of VU Alumni Entrepreneurs has given permission to be listed on the university website. In the coming years, the list of alumni entrepreneurs will be expanded further. The website will also regularly highlight an alumni entrepreneur with an interview.
List of alumni
An overview of VU Alumni Entrepreneurs is available, featuring their background and enterprises.
Two interesting background stories of entrepreneurs are accesible via the VU Magazine:
- Sentini Grunberg: 'I actually did not even notice I was being entrepreneurial.' (Dutch)
- Taco Zimmerman: 'You must be able to think on a global scale with your product, even as a starter.' (Dutch)