By Marlies Augustijn
— A new platform was recently added to Amsterdam University College’s already vibrant and extensive community life: the AUC Entrepreneurship Community (AUCEC). AUCEC is currently led by Aqsa Hussain, Max Briel, and Suzie Antal, and aims to help students who want to set up their own enterprise. On April 9, 2015, AUCEC celebrated its launch in AUCafé. AUCEC is not a committee, but a student association. Hussain says, “We’re not part of AUCSA. Instead of the strings attached to being a committee, we thought it’d be best to just be part of the Student Council, just like the Tenants Association, Peer Support, et cetera.” “And it [AUCEC] has an academic kind of appeal to it as well. It’s not like strictly social and fun, which is, well, what AUCSA is kind of about,” Hussain continues. The idea of the community was initiated by Hussain, Antal, and fellow AUC students Michael Vermeer and Josua Muench. The concept arose from the demand for an entrepreneurship course at AUC, evident from several surveys done by the Student Council and the Social Science focus group. “We tried to make this happen, but AUC is not a vocational university, and so we were told that if we want something like this, create like, a club,” Hussain says. “That was what propelled this.” AUCEC aims to inspire students to start their own businesses, and to help them with creative ideas in entrepreneurship to actually make them happen. Briel says, “There are a lot of projects at AUC done in entrepreneurship. But a lot of people start from nothing, from scratch.” The association will offer advice on how to keep projects going, organise workshops, invite speakers, and help the fledgling entrepreneurs find incubators – organisations who help develop new companies. Hussain says, “So you have the ACE Venture Lab, the Amsterdam Centre of Entrepreneurship, Impact Hub; a bunch of these different organisations which help start-ups. And yes, we will be reaching out to them, really forming a partnership.” AUCEC also aims to connect people with a specific academic background whose ideas overlap the entrepreneurial fields. “Sometimes for people from different disciplines it’s difficult to find one another, because they are from different environments,” Briel says, “for example, humanities and the sciences could then come together more, and spread their knowledge, gather a team with which they can work on a project.” Many entrepreneurial initiatives have already been launched by AUC students, such as Taste Before You Waste, Students4You, Cycleswap, and Jeugdlab. Hussain says, “The idea is to use those, promote those, say ‘Look AUC students have started so much amazing stuff!’” “And also ask them about their experience,” Briel adds. AUCEC believes it could make the process of setting up an enterprise easier, for example by providing help on legal issues, or offering advice on whether to make the project a foundation or something commercial. “They [the aforementioned initiatives] have gone through very difficult periods, spent a lot of time on it. But this could be done far faster,” Briel says. Luana Caretto, founder of Taste Before You Waste, says of AUCEC, “It’s a good way of learning from each other. There is no reason why we should reinvent the wheel twice.” Joran Iedema, co-founder of Cycleswap, also believes AUCEC has potential. “Maybe I wouldn’t have gone to them directly, but I would have definitely kept track of their events. Attending competitions, talks or just meeting would have been a great help when developing Cycleswap,” he says. “There’s a thousand excuses not to pursue any idea out there,” Hussain says. “But we’re offering the few [examples] that actually do it. If you have any idea that you are passionate about, just do something creative, do it.” Interested? Follow AUCEC on Facebook. They will likely host another event before the end of the semester.