Student - 13 juli 2011

How are things now with... Loet Rammelsberg?

In this final week, we will be looking back at the academic year; how did things end up for some of the people featured in the news? Today, it's the turn of VHL student Loet Rammelsberg. Last autumn, he won an entrepreneurs' scholarship taking him to top universities in the USA. He returned this week, full of new ideas.

An edible flower as a garnish on your grilled salmon, or even more surprisingly, as a snack to accompany your beer. That is possible, as the flower of the nasturtium plant is not just edible but tasty too. Loet Rammelsberg drew up a business plan based on this idea, which won him the much coveted Kauffman scholarship for young entrepreneurs last autumn. This week, he returned from six months in the US.
How did it go?
'Great. It started with a six-week programme of lectures at the Kaufmann Foundation in Kansas City. Then I followed lectures at three top American universities: Harvard and MIT in Boston and Stanford in San Francisco. Then I was able to test out the theory in practice during two internships tailored to fit my profile. One was with an internet food-tech company in Silicon Valley, and the other was an internship with the specialized coffee roasting factory The Roasterie.'
Has your view of entrepreneurship changed?
'Absolutely. I have now seen how you can use your business to achieve so much more than just making a profit. For instance, The Roasterie builds schools in Costa Rica and has set up a programme of support for neglected children in its home town of Kansas City. This is all possible if you have a big business. That really spurs me on.'
Learning about social business practices in the US, the home of raw capitalism?
'Yes, funny, isn't it? Of course I saw that raw capitalism as well, especially in Silicon Valley, which is basically all about investing and getting a good return. But you really do have companies that take a very different approach.'
And the edible flower?
'This programme was very useful for that. I learnt that it will cost a huge amount of time to turn the flower idea into a commercially sound company. So it is not that suitable as the basic idea for a company. But I still think it is a great idea so I haven't dropped it, but it is more of a sideline now; I'll see what comes of it.'
Have you already got a new idea for a company?
'Yes, I'm currently working on a business plan for coffee. Ha, ha, not entirely coincidental given my internship, it's true. I'm going to focus completely on that. I always have a hundred and one ideas in my head that are often not quite 'ready'. I am now going to put into practice the most important lesson I learnt: focus, focus, focus.'

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