“If you have a dream, make it happen”

He is 25 years old and has already sold two successful companies and set up a third. This earned Crispijn de Koning a nomination for Most Inspiring Entrepreneur from the platform De Ondernemer. And you can vote for this former student of The Hague University of Applied Sciences!

Crispijn calls himself a doer. “I have always done a lot outside school. I started at the age of eighteen with a trading company in scarves and crockery. I sold them on markets and that went quite well, although I did it without a well thought-out plan. But doing it is the most important thing. If you have a dream: make it happen, even if you have doubts. Don’t keep on researching, just go ahead and do it. That’s how I’ve always done my own thing, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. But that’s how I found my passion and that brought me to where I am now.”

All kinds of challenges

And that passion has a name: Verum, an alternative to coffee. “Three years ago I started looking into nutrition, because I wanted to get more energy out of a day and suffered from stress. In order to find out how I could feed my body as optimally as possible, I tried all kinds of challenges: a month without meat, a month without dairy, etc. When I decided not to drink coffee for a month, after just one week I noticed that I had more energy, that I slept better and that I wasn’t stressed. Caffeine increases the stress hormone cortisol and disrupts the sleep molecule adenosine. That’s when the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.”
Together with his partner Erik Messemaker, Crispijn identified a gap in the market: a drink that gives you the boost of caffeine, without the negative side effects. “We bought a blender and started mixing herbs and plants. One year later, Verum was born. It took a long time to find the right flavour, but now it is a well-balanced drink.” The launch took place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “That turned out to be beneficial for us, because people started paying more attention to health and nutrition. Awareness is growing. The business is doing well. Soon Verum will be on the shelves of health shops and supermarket chains. We are also in the process of getting an investor to grow further.”

Models are very instructive

His work on his companies didn’t stop Crispijn from submitting his thesis for the degree programme in Business Administration at THUAS in 2018. Did he get a lot out of his studies? “As far as the big picture is concerned, certainly, and I am grateful for that. How do you determine your strategy, how do you create a brand? The business models you get are very instructive. However, in practice, a lot of other things are asked of you as well. How do you proceed? How do you market your product? How do you approach potential customers and how do you find investors? I had to find out all those things myself.” With success, because in 2019 he was able to sell his brewery Westlander Bier and his catering company Bier & Burgers for a good price. And now he is passionately committed to Verum.
Inspiring story? Then vote for Crispijn de Koning as Most Inspiring Entrepreneur.