Flashes of inspiration

And then it dawned on him…

Eureka! Sometimes inspiration comes unexpectedly, a brilliant idea just pops in to your head at exactly the right moment. We show you a few moments of inspiration of innovative entrepreneurs.

Spontaneous inspiration leads to great ideas

As a Dutch student, Thomas Brinkman once found himself seated in a packed street café in the city of Groningen. Frustrated at being unable to attract the waiter's attention, he whipped out his phone and called the bar right from the terrace to order his beer. As expected, this did the trick and got the drinks to his table within minutes.

After this flash of inspiration, Brinkman created the MyOrder app in 2008, which enables consumers to place and pay for their orders using their smartphone. Within no time at all, numerous restaurants, bars, cinemas and parking companies across the Netherlands jumped on the bandwagon and implemented his idea at their own establishments.

Consumers can currently place their orders at thousands of locations across the Netherlands and pay for them using this special app. Rabobank is a major stakeholder in MyOrder since August 2012.

Having started his career as a detective in environmental law enforcement, Laurens de Groot later joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organisation dedicated to protecting marine wildlife, including fighting the illegal hunt of whales and seals. During a mission in Namibia, he used a drone for the first time to capture seal hunters in action.

When it turned out just how useful these aerial vehicles equipped with cameras were in these inhospitable locations, it dawned on De Groot that these unmanned aircraft would one day make a big impact around the world. One thing led to another, and in 2014 De Groot and two business partners incorporated a new business called Skycap.

Skycap uses drones for every imaginable type of endeavour. Once potential customers have indicated the objects they would like to have captured from the air, Skycap provides the systems, cameras, operators and security experts needed to accomplish the mission. The company works with certified operators around the globe in some of the world’s most volatile areas. For one, Skycap was the first company to successfully use drones against poachers in South Africa.

De Groot is the recipient of the 'The Next Entrepreneur' award 2014, which is presented annually by Royal Association MKB-Nederland (an association promoting the interests of SMEs) and Rabobank to the year's most innovative start-up. The judging panel stated in their report that De Groot's company has found the perfect balance between 'commercial and humanitarian' interests and has demonstrated 'global potential'. The award is endowed with prize money of EUR 12,500.

Duijvestijn tomaten
Duijvestijn Tomaten was one of the first greenhouse horticulture companies to use geothermal energy. A large installation pumps up water that has a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius. It is then used to heat the greenhouse. Once the water has been used, the installation pumps it back into the ground to a depth of 2,300 metres so it can be reheated geothermally.

'But…,' thought Peter Duijvestijn, 'that water is still warm when it goes back into the ground. Could we somehow utilise that residual heat?' It turned out he could use that heat perfectly well. His company developed a special machine that uses the residual heat to produce dried tomatoes. 

'Tomatoes dried in this machine have much more flavour than if they were dried in the sun,' says Duijvestijn. 'It also preserves the soft texture and vitamins more effectively. This method is unique in the Netherlands and is good for the environment, our company and our clients.'

Primary banker Rabobank Westland is a co-financier of the project together with Rabo Groen Bank that supports innovative sustainability projects.