On Monday 10 May Ghent University student Sim Vanlangenhove was elected Gentrepreneur Student Entrepreneur of the Year. As winner, he represents all enterprising students in Ghent and far beyond for one year.
Sim Vanlangenhove: "It was not easy to start a business from an atypical direction"
Sim is a budding doctor who has spotted a gap in the swimming pool market. After only six months, he is already looking at a turnover of 150,000 euros. With Simpools he makes modern swimming pools simple. They achieve this by combining high-quality above-ground pools with a clever connecting terrace: including a bar or lounge. No digging, a sleek design, much more than just swimming pleasure and above all at an affordable price. Besides the possibility of installation, they also offer these pools in a 'do it yourself kit'.
"I discovered my passion for medicine 6 years ago. The passion for business just a little later. I am not the stereotypical medical student and have never felt like one. I want to taste everything and learn about everything, the entrepreneurship here really opened a world for me."
"I planned a trip last year, but 3 days before departure the corona pandemic broke out and my furthest trip became that to the local supermarket. I didn't throw in the towel, I'm not like that. I decided to find a solution to our eternal wish for a modern swimming pool at home. Without any technical experience, I decided to build a terrace around our above-ground pool in the garden. Not exactly the easiest project, but the result and the reactions were incredibly positive."
"In a short time I gained knowledge about economics, architecture, negotiation techniques and got to know lots of people who gave me the necessary push. I learned to build a website myself, delved into construction techniques and 3D designs, finally found out who the taxman was and in a short time built up a huge network of interesting people who continue to take me forward every day to this day."
"It was not easy to start a business from an atypical direction. The fact that this is heading towards a success story in the short term, I owe partly to my own efforts and perseverance, but especially to those around me. The fact that people find my story inspiring and I can mean something in their fledgling entrepreneurial story, just as others have meant something to me, seems incredible!"
Do you have a fledgling idea for a business? Then take a look at the website of DO!, the centre for student-entrepreneurship at Ghent University.
Discover the start-ups of the other two Ghent University candidates:
Chato De Veirman: "I am not like the typical entrepreneur"
Chato wants to make expensive top-class sports technology accessible to ordinary athletes, so that they too can grow in sports. Chato studies Computer Science at Ghent University, has been an entrepreneur since secondary school and currently owns not one but three companies. With ProSportsLab he wants to democratise technology in top sport. The first step is golf. Instead of selling devices, ProsportsLab wants to lease them at an accessible price so that everyone can enjoy them.
"I am not like the typical entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs tend to be outspoken and extroverted, while I'm totally the opposite. I want to show that it doesn't matter what type of person you are and that anyone can be an entrepreneur with the right mindset."
Senne Misplon: "I can be a role model for others"
Senne Misplon is no stranger to the spotlight thanks to his appearance in De Slimste Mens ter wereld and as spokesperson for Wel Jong Niet Hetero. Senne studies Gender Diversity and gives lectures, webinars and consultancy on the entire landscape of gender and sexual diversity. From his own experience and expertise, he aims to contribute to increased well-being for all people, with LGBTQ+ persons in particular.
"I bring an inspiring story and can be a role model for others. I notice (and recognize) a lot of anxiety among students about starting entrepreneurship. Many see this as a huge thing, something that is impossible to do as a 'small student with a passion and little money or securities'. I want to be an example in this, but also play a supporting role.
Rewatch the Gentrepreneur Awards final live on Facebook.