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ACE Blogs: why you should start a company while studying

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2 reasons why you should start a company while studying in the Netherlands

Especially if you are an international student.

Looking back, I wish I knew I could start a company while studying my master degree in the Netherlands. After running my biomedical communication business ScienceVisionary for almost two years, I see so much advantages I could have if had I begun my venture while studying as an international student. Had I known how easy it is to register a one-person company (eenmanszaak), I would have done it right away and start operating my business as a student entrepreneur.

Looking back, I see the two good reasons are 1) you can start working as a freelance contractor in the industry, and 2) you can apply for a startup visa later. In the following, I will elaborate on the details of these benefits:

1) Your company allows you to work as a freelancer and/or contractor in the Netherlands

With an eenmanszaak at hand, you can be a contractor in the industry you want to develop your career in. It is essentially a way to create internships by yourself and building your own brand. That annoying “+X years of experience” in recruitment ad you always read? Now you can build it up while being your own boss.

Registering an eenmanszaak has even more perks for international students. Non-EU students are restricted from taking part-time jobs in the Netherlands unless the company apply a work permit (TWV, Tewerkstellingsvergunning aanvragen) for them. Even if the students have the TWV, they are only allowed to work for 16 hours per week. This greatly limits their career development options. Being a freelancer/contractor can be an alternative way for highly motivated non-EU students to contribute their talents to the Dutch economy. If they manage to grow their business into a successful multinational company, that is a win-win for everyone.

The registration for a one-person company (eenmanszaak) is extremely easy!

The Dutch government has made the process very friendly. All you need to do is to fill in an online form, send it off, and make an appointment at your local Karmer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce). Pay 45 euros right there at the KvK, and you have can start operating your business in the Netherlands (and technically in the EU). You will have the KvK number right after you pay. The BTW number (VAT, Value added tax number) will arrive later in a mail. I will write about the detail steps in the upcoming blog post.

2) You can apply for a startup visa

Having a company with a KvK number is the one of the three criteria I listed in the blog post Need a Startup Visa in the Netherlands? Get These 3 Documents Before Applying. The KvK number is your company’s ID number at the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands (Kamer van Koophandel). Having the KvK number is the first step to applying a startup visa. So you basically have collected your first of the three gadgets to securing your resident permit as a startup founder!

Besides obtaining your KvK number, by actually operating your business and generating revenue, the startup facilitators will find your pitch very attractive, because you have validated your product and service with solid evidence. This can greatly increase their willingness to sign the sponsorship declaration for you.

Next week I will dive into the practical details on registering an eenmanszaak. Follow me on Medium or LinkedIn to make sure you will see the articles when they are published. For specific questions, you can message me through the contact form on my company website I am very curious about your ventures and the challenges you are facing as a founder in the Netherlands (and around the world!). It might be something I have dealt with and I will be happy to help a fellow founder.

Author profile

Jon Jieh-hen Tsung is part of the ACE alumni network.

“I quit medical research to become a scientific illustrator. Accidentally started a biomedical communication startup in the Amsterdam and loving the venture ScienceVisionary. More stories can be found on my YouTube channel.”

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