It all began exactly one year ago. It was the first week of november 2015 when i (Mathijs) first met with Pedram. We both where rowers at the same club in Amsterdam, that is how we’ve met each other. While both studying at the VU university my background was more in IT and computer science and Pedram had more experience in business and consulting. In our first meetings we quickly found out that our skills and work ethics matched quite good. In the following weeks we came up with a lot of different ideas and we wanted to create a platform from which we could build and launch these ideas.
All our ideas started as a shared folder in Google Drive and most of the time we were just brainstorming about a topic that had our shared interest and we would try to find a way to create business model and application around this idea. The Drive folder then would soon grow with various documents and files like: meeting notes, prototype designs, code for the alpha version of an application, contact information of s and many many excel sheets.
First venture: Donate a book
One of the first examples is our project www.donate-a-book.com, the idea behind this website was to create a platform build up of two parts. First there was the donating side of the website, this was a place with the goal to get people to donate books that they are not using anymore, like e.g. old study books or just a simple novel. These books then would be collected and stored in cooperation with the green offices of the universities in the Netherlands. Soon after that they were distributed across the refugee shelters all over the country. So that the people in these shelters and camps could keep studying and reading while waiting for more information about their asylum request in our country.
The problem we were trying to solve with donate-a-book.com was that we saw that the number of refugees in the Netherlands was growing vary rapidly, this was mostly due to the civil war in Syria. The media portrayed these people very negatively and this was something that we could not stand. Among these refugees where well educated man and woman who had given up everything to flee their country and keep their family safe. Now these people were sitting in refugee camps and waiting all day. Among these people where boys and girls of our age who probably went to college or university in their home country and could now do nothing. The idea of this reminded us of our wealth and luck here in the Netherlands and we could not sit still without working on this project. We wanted to build this distribution network and give the refugees more access to information that in the end would not only benefit them personally but also benefit the whole country with high educated professionals when these people are given asylum.
What is next?
This was the first part of a longer series about the ventures of WaterQant. In the next part i will tell the story about our biggest venture: AUBC. This is a fashion brand that produces leisure clothing for rowers.