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Amsterdam start-up explains how an MBA helped build their business

Nyenrode Business Universiteit offers a Full-time MBA program with a focus on developing the next generation of business leaders.

Having moved the iconic MBA program to the Nyenrode campus in the heart of Amsterdam, it looks like a promising choice for those thinking of starting a business in one of the most thriving business centres of Europe. Nyenrode MBA alumni explain why.

Tim Mazajchik and Yasin Amani graduated from Nyenrode University in 2013 with a Master's degree in Business Administration.

After attending an MBA intro weekend, Tim and Yasin chose Nyenrode because they felt that the program would enable them to discover their authentic leadership skills through attending CEO workshops with multinationals like Microsoft, Heineken, and IBM, as well as work on in-company projects with peers from around the world. 

It all started with an idea

"We both started our MBA-journey at Nyenrode independently but with the idea of starting a new venture, with a new business partner, and focusing on a new topic.

During our MBA, we realised that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was in one way or another incorporated into all the modules we took. And during the CEO-sessions, we noticed that CSR appeared to be the next big thing on the management agenda.

CSR allows you to redefine your purpose and generate economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its challenges. This way, you connect your company’s success with social progress.

With backgrounds in Market Research and Finance, combined with our accumulated CSR knowledge during our MBA, it appeared that we were both deeply motivated and energised by the subject, and naturally worked well together."

Soon after graduating, they set up a consulting business called Heartbeat Strategy in the heart of Amsterdam, and they couldn’t have picked a better location. 

A perfect location

Amsterdam has become a popular location for start-ups. In 2016 alone, the start-up population increased by 31 percent making it Europe’s third favourite capital for starting a business, according to SiliconCanals.nl.

A study by the OECD showed how thriving start-ups benefit local economies in that the innovation behind them creates new jobs and provides four times more employment growth than other businesses.

"When it comes to sustainability, Amsterdam is in the Champions’ League. It is the first city worldwide that has commissioned a report into the potential for transitioning to a circular economy.

The city is increasing its pace in improving sustainability; for example, by connecting its houses to locally generated sustainable electricity, challenging contractors to build greener properties, and encouraging the use of electric transport.

Just in the building where we work, we are surrounded by companies and initiatives with sustainable agendas, like Patagonia and Fairphone, which is very inspiring."

Furthermore, with Schiphol around the corner, and easy access to the rest of continental Europe, Amsterdam makes it easy for companies to collaborate internationally. 

Networking opportunities

Upon graduating in 2013, Tim and Yasin started out by advising organisations on their CSR strategy and report.

"Nyenrode has a Center of Sustainability where a multidisciplinary team of academic professionals focus on CSR-related topics. We got our first assignment for our company Heartbeat Strategy with the help of the Center of Sustainability."

Their business model has rapidly evolved since then with experience against a backdrop of knowledge obtained from their MBA to fine tune their services to meet their client's needs. 

An example, Heartbeat Strategy recently developed a CSR map of the Netherlands, which tracks the psychographic segmentation of households in five “sustainability segments” including Transformers; people who believe in sustainability because it’s the right thing, to Sceptics; people who don’t believe there is any environmental problem, to begin with.

"We know that each segment has its own requirements of communication that activate them. Our client, a waste management company, was searching for a way to influence their consumers to improve their waste-separation behavior.

With the help of our CSR map, we were able to identify on a household level, which segment they belonged to, allowing them to send segmented communication to each group, greatly increasing the effect of communication on their waste-separation behavior."

MBA alumni

Tim and Yasin have sustained ties to their alma matter and with good reason. Since graduating they have gotten involved with numerous projects.

"By doing the MBA at Nyenrode, you can get involved in one of the VCV (Voortgezette Compagnie van Verre) circles. Each circle focuses on a specific topic and is set up and run by alumni. Tim is currently a board member of the VCV Sustainability circle. They run events to create awareness on relevant CSR issues.

In the last two years, we both decided to set up a sustainability elective for the Nyenrode MBA-program, which included inviting companies like Heineken, ING, and KPMG to take part.

Passing on knowledge to an international group of highly skilled people, who after their MBA, go back out into the world again, is our way of investing in CSR. It also provides the right setting for us to get in touch with people and organisations that are starting or developing their own CSR-activities."

Nyenrode Business Universiteit offers a full-time, 1-year Full-time MBA program designed around integrated business practices and in-company projects with a unique focus on the European market.

If you would like to get a taste of Nyenrode's full-time MBA, register for the Business Game before May 1.

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