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Lauran van der Lee Interview

Lauran van der Lee Interview

Have you always wanted to create your own business or become an entrepreneur?

No, I had no clue what to do after graduation. Basically, I felt like I always had an underlying thought of ‘maybe I want to start something for myself,’ but that I should work first for a big corporation for like 5 years to build a network; and then start something for myself. I never knew what I wanted exactly, so I studied international business management for two and a half years. During that time I felt like I slipped into a feeling like when you put your phone on airplane mode. You’re working but you’re not receiving stuff from the outside. So I wasn’t really looking toward the future or considered the actions I was taking. One day I was sitting on a bench with my friends, just hanging out, and I felt like I wasn’t enjoying myself. For me that was sort of a wake-up call; I just had a flash and thought ‘what am I doing with myself?’ That’s when I really started thinking about what I wanted out of life. Reading books, making plans, and thinking about five years ahead were things I never did. But at that moment on the bench, I started getting an itch. My education was really turning me into a 9 to 5 guy; I hated the thought of having to do something Monday through Friday that I wasn’t really into. I had a side job working in football stats together with a friend. When that finished we thought maybe we could do that at a smaller scale in the Netherlands. I was growing more uneasy with my education so I quit and I told my parents: give me one and a half years and if I haven’t made any income with my business then I’ll go back to school. That was the plan originally, but after six months my mom was like, ‘okay you need an education.’ 

How did you end up choosing Unknown University of Applied sciences?

One day I was looking at some entrepreneurship programs online and Unknown University of Applied Sciences was one of the first to pop up. I thought about it for a long time. I attended three Open Days, sat in on a class, and I went to the presentations twice; and I still wasn’t quite sure. So I tried out the 90 days program and made an effort to keep an open mind. One of the first people I met was Marco and I told myself I was gonna be completely honest with him so we could form a relationship based on trust. So I told him everything that was going on in my life, and about the things I didn’t want to go back to. As we discussed the things I wanted to do in the future, we created such a good bond and he instantly knew how to motivate me. There were a lot of ups and downs in the first two years. At some moments I would work extremely hard but then something personal would happen or I would fall off a bit, and then I wouldn’t work as hard. I would have to pick myself back up. That was a cycle that went on for two and a half years, but now I have been working quite consistently for six or seven months and that’s my ambition for this year.

How has Unknown University helped you along the way?

I think that the education they provide itself gives you a lot of value. But you also need to get the value yourself as well. Going to class, and talking to guest speakers, I was able to really get in touch with quite a lot of people I wouldn’t normally be in touch with. I still feel that that helped me a lot. You really get the value out of the school by doing the hard work yourself. By doing the extra steps, you’ll be able to get access to the great network that Unknown University of Applied Sciences has.

Do you have any advice for others?

Go and get it yourself, don’t expect them to give it to you. It’s a two-way street. You have people going forward and people going backwards, and if you meet in the middle you’ll get so much value out of that. It’s such a good environment to grow as both a person and as an entrepreneur. Participate as much as you can.

Do you have any role models or people that inspire you?

Well, I have a role model but it’s not really like a business or an entrepreneur. It was a friend of mine; he died when he was 21. But within the time that he was given I feel like he was really doing well on all levels of life. That’s something that I really would love to do as well. He was really killing it academically; he was really smart, did two studies, and was getting a master’s degree. He was also very invested with his family and was still going on vacation with his parents; which is something I haven’t done in ten years or something. So I really think that even though he had such little time, he got everything out of life. That’s something that really inspires me. Making the most of every facet of life; so not only on the business side but also academically, learning new stuff, and sporting.

What’s next?

My partner and I have an e-commerce store, and we sell in the Netherlands and Belgium. Right now we are working on an investment with our suppliers that would give us the lowest purchase prices. Not only would it allow us to dominate the Dutch and Belgian markets even more, but it would also allow us to enter different markets such as France, Spain, England, Romania, and Bulgaria. Because we’d have the lowest purchase price we’d be able to have the best customer service and the best delivery time. That’s something for the upcoming 5 years; we really want to start up new stores in different countries, all based around.