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ASI works with students on Entrepreneurial Challenges

The Gazelles win first prize with PR & marketing plan for ACE startup.

Students of the UvA/VU Master Entrepreneurship were assigned an Entrepreneurial Challenge, a 3-week project in which they had to solve real-life challenges of Amsterdam-based startups and scale-ups. The aim of this challenge, which was part of the first course for a joint degree at the University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam, was to connect the world of academia and business. Supervised by Bram Kuijken, 16 student teams were confronted with specific tasks related to challenges that companies are facing.

The Gazelles

The winning team – the Gazelles (Johanna Koenen, Henrik Roth, Leonie Schäfer and Bart van der Ham) – solved challenges for Amsterdam Scientific Instruments (ASI). The company was part of the ACE Incubation Program in 2014 and recently joined the ACE Ready to Scale program in an effort to scale their business globally. The challenge that the MA students took on was: ‘How and where does ASI have the opportunity to optimize (online) marketing and exposure for a global target group?’. 

Ready to Scale

The Ready to Scale program has been created in collaboration with The SUN to help boost company’s growth, mentoring participants on business related topics and introduce scale-ups to potential investors, talented students and mentors. Due to their high-priced products in the high-tech industry with a niche target group of researchers and scientists, ASI deals with some difficulties in finding the best marketing strategy for a specific set of characteristics.

During their participation in ACE’s Ready to Scale program, ASI got the opportunity to connect with investors, attend insightful workshops, and focus on growth opportunities. The Entrepreneurial Challenge provided them with an extra push towards improving their strategy.

Challenge accepted

Motivated by a cash prize of €1.000 for the winning team (sponsored by Ready to Scale participant Viisi Labs) and support from ASI’s founders, the Gazelles put a lot of effort into solving the challenge. First, they conducted a survey to better understand ASI’s target group. Furthermore, to assess the various opportunities of online marketing, they tested several social media platforms and online advertisement channels.

Finally, they proposed a marketing model including the costs per customer for each channel and a suitable marketing budget. The Gazelles used their results to give ASI hands-on recommendations on how to improve their online appearance.


The company was very pleased with the results of the group: “We were impressed with the way the Gazelles approached our marketing challenge and the solutions and advice they came up with in such a short time. Their implementations have caused an immediate increase in our website traffic. We will definitely use their recommendations and put their thoughts into practice.”

Johanna Koenen en Leonie Schäfer are currently interning with ACE to work on various projects. 

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