NAME: Iens Boswijk
COUNTRY: The Netherlands
BACKGROUND: University economics and Le Cordon Blue, Paris
ACTION/SECTOR: Industry and services
POSITION: Owner, Manager, R&D
My Background and Career
I am an entrepreneur since 1987, after having graduated my education in ‘French and Italian cuisine’ in Paris. I first owned the catering business ‘the Table of Iens’. At the end of the nineties, I started ‘Iens.nl’. I wanted to spread a new sort of information of restaurants driven by the opinions of consumers instead of experts. First only in printed restaurant guides per city or region, but soon with the just upcoming internet. Now you could leave your comments directly on the platform, which is worldwide to be seen (and I did not have to type the letters of our ‘tasters’ all over!).
We were one of the first interactive platforms. The restaurants had to accustom themselves to this new way of evaluating their efforts. With 2 million visitors per month, we are now the biggest restaurant site of the Netherlands. It also works now as a guest book for the restaurants, because of the fact you can ‘book’ your table through our platform: Iens.nl
17 years ago, I started at my proverbial ‘kitchen table’, writing in notebooks and riding at my bike through the cities. After 3 years I temporarily shared with a business partner. Iens now has a staff of 40 people.
From out the beginning our capitol investors invested a lot. I was involved in contacting and binding users and restaurants, organizing events and offers. In the beginning it was quite difficult earning money with internet. The innovation of the internet system after 8 years especially did cost a lot of money.
To be able to sell the business Iens merged with the booking site Seatme in 2012. So the extra service of booking a table was established. For restaurants this service meant a big advantage, likewise the balance of Iens became more positive. The director of Seatme reorganized Iens to an even leaner company.
The sales process have been guided by Holland Corporate Finance. Within 2 months in 2015 Iens had been sold to Tripadvisor. A logic partner, with whom it would be able to make a next step of developing one system for the European market, with local information. My original dream.
I have withdrawn myself from Iens now. A bit scary though, but you must let go. And I love to look around for new opportunities.
During 17 years I have done all the business tasks. I, myself have a talent for marketing, contacts, and innovation. Always looking for new ideas to improve our services and products to add value to our target groups of consumers and the restaurants. So you need people besides you for daily management and finance. I will always be an entrepreneur. I do advise some people and organizations quite successfully, but I prefer creating myself.
My next step? A sabbatical period will gain purification and rest, I hope. I am confident that a new golden chance will come on my path, through my extended network in restaurants and internet businesses.
Hints & Tips
1. Working together with a partner? Divide the tasks immediately
If you decide to go in business with a partner, make clear appointments and divide the tasks. It prevents double work and frustration.
2. Translate your sincere deep inner feelings to a business plan and hold on to it.
Your own inner drives are your most important assets. Who only enters a business to earn money, will fail. Only your driver leads to focus and enthusiasm, also when you have obstacles to face sometimes.
3. Write a plan before starting and take your time to develop it.
Check your plans with friends, but also with critical minds. Don’t be afraid for negative reactions, but translate and transform those objections in your plan.
4. Manage the money of investors as if it is your own money.
Ask yourself: Would I invest myself? How much? In negative times, would I pay an extra supplement? You really will gain a better success, if you are able handling other people’s money as your own.
5. A growing Business? Stick to your expertise, values and talents.
Look for people with other and better added qualities, if your business is growing. Stay confident of your own specific qualities and stick to it. Of course you can develop some new skills, but always on the basic of your talents. No one is able to do everything perfect.
6 Adding value. If you add value you can let grow a business/ service/ product.