Student Entrepreneur DualBrands

By Reyer Sikkel

Could you briefly describe what the business is and what it is doing?
DualBrands is a web design business that focuses on innovative projects. We create apps and websites; we do internet marketing and design brands.

When did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?
Wouter and I have been programming from an early age. We started working together when we realized our skillset matched up perfectly. Our main goal was to create innovative apps and websites for ourselves.

In which way has the company evolved since its inception?Since the inception of DualBrands, we found ourselves working more and more for clients. We were still able to innovate, but we had to apply it within the scope of the assignments we procured. Of course we slowly became more professional in the way we handled the business. We also tried more and more to attract bigger clients. We found we enjoyed working on bigger projects more, as a bigger budget meant more room to innovate.

Can an own business be combined well with your studies?
Up to a point, a business can be combined better with your studies than a ‘normal’ temp job. At least for the webdesign branch, you have the opportunity to manage your time as you wish. You can work for as long as you want, during whatever time of day that suits you. Some clients responded very positively to us being available outside normal business hours. Of course you will have to meet deadlines that sometimes will not be in line with your exam schedule. In deliberation with your client they will often consider your situation up to a point.

Which skills you have acquired during your studies, also come back to your daily business activities?
Economics and Informatics is often described as learning to operate at the intersection between business and IT. As a result, we were taught about databases, programming, and other technical courses at a higher level of abstraction than just writing lines of code. It helped us get a better sense of the bigger picture. Furthermore, we were taught to translate business needs to IT needs, as well as skills such as marketing and accounting. All of these came in very handy in the real world.

What are the skills you have gained from the establishment of your business until now?
Working with real world clients is an experience you cannot really get from any study I am aware of. Communication is very important. Often, clients don not have the necessary knowledge to properly explain themselves. Interpreting their wishes in a precise and complete way is very important. If you start with a misinterpreted set of wishes, you will have to fix them later on, which will of course cost considerably more resources than getting it right the first time around. Of course, misinterpretations do occur. Learning to cope with these and other problems has been a valuable skill we learned along the way.

How do you see the future of the company?
Being around for a couple of years, we found the challenge of setting up projects of our own successfully, remarkably more satisfying than working for clients. Nowadays, when you have the skills to create websites and apps, a lot of people will come up to you with ideas they have always wanted to realize. While some of those are really good, we have already got a big list of concepts we are very confident in. We would love to have the time to make those happen first. Furthermore, we hope to work more with big clients, because, as mentioned before, it gives us the opportunity to work on more innovative projects.

Finally, what would you like to say to students who are also planning to start their own business?
Whatever value it is your business creates, it is created entirely by you! Although this is a satisfying feeling, it comes with its price. In every business you will face setbacks. Fortunately, in our experience, each of these setbacks will teach you a lesson, which will make you stronger in the end.

I personally really prefer a business to a ‘normal’ job. I love entrepreneurship, being able to apply my creativity to business and slowly enabling your business to grow. Just know that whatever amount of time you estimate on investing in your business won’t be enough. It will be worth it though.