Entrepreneurial advice from an SBE alumna

Owning your own business is a dream for many people. You get to be your own boss, realise your creative vision and interact with a wide range of companies and individuals. Here at SBE, many of our students have gone on to lead lives as successful entrepreneurs following their studies. We caught up with one of these very students: SBE alumna Josefine Staats. Josefine is the Founder and CEO of KULAU, a company she launched in 2009 that specialises in innovative organic food products. 

In this article, Josefine opened up to us about the lessons she learned as an SBE student and share useful advice to all future entrepreneurs. 

Photos in this article are from Mompreneur

Josefine Staat KULAU

What is the most valuable lesson you learned at SBE related to entrepreneurship?
I think that Maastricht University and the problem based learning approach at SBE taught me to take on active self-learning. This helped me during all those years as an entrepreneur when I couldn’t rely on a big team to solve all your problems. My time at SBE also helped me with negotiations, as I am able to quickly understand the fundamental problems that need to be solved.  

How do you think SBE has influenced your career path?
My time at SBE and in the Netherlands was definitely a strong trigger for my decision to become an entrepreneur. I appreciated the interactive and open dialogue with students, tutors, and professors from all over the world. To this day, I find it truly inspiring to work in an international environment and in multicultural teams. My business is sourcing organic raw materials from many other countries, especially from Asia and 40% of my sales goes to other EU countries. In Maastricht, I learned that we all benefit from globalisation and I am still a strong believer of global division of labor and the positive welfare effects for everybody.  Finally even though one should not generalise, I often admired the Dutch for their pragmatism, their positive attitude and their ‘just do it’ mentality. In this aspect, I now try to be more Dutch than the average German. 

KULAU Josefine SBE

Do you have any entrepreneurial advice you would like to share with SBE students? 
 If you truly want to be an entrepreneur then do not wait too long after university because many relevant and time consuming life events often happen in your 30s and 40s: for example mortgages, marriage, older parents, and of course, the biggest time consumer, children. When I was a young professional directly after graduating, I had so much more time and freedom than today with my wonderful family of three kids. That being said, I disagree with many Silicon Valley founders who believe that you should give up your university education if you have a fantastic idea that cannot wait. This attitude does not take into account that most entrepreneurs are not as successful as Elon Musk or Bill Gates and many entrepreneurs fail. I personally think that is very useful to have a well-founded education that nobody can take away from you. Finally, I think it’s important to remember that you might fail. It can happen even to the most talented entrepreneur, but it is no reason to give up immediately. Life will go on and perhaps it is not your first business idea that will 'rock' but your third!

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