Borrower interview #7: VISKONglas

Last year, VISKONglas was the first borrower from The Netherlands on October. We sat down with Jeffrey Reuzenaar, one of the owners of the VISKONglas to talk about his business and his experience with October.

Jeffrey Reuzenaar is a true entrepreneur, who likes to roll up his sleeves. Together with his business partner Hans, he owns VISKONglas. They have a team of 7 permanent employees and focus on the manufacturing and assembly of high-quality glass products for both private- and business consumers.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Jeffrey: “A long time ago, I started studying physiotherapy, but I broke it off prematurely. During my internship I found out that it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went to work, to make money and I liked it very much. But, I did have the feeling that I could get more out of myself.” After Jeffrey had finished his studies and gained experience at various companies, he ended up at VISKONglas, through a temporary employment agency in 2001.

With his entrepreneurial drive, Jeffrey and his partner Hans Zee looked into the possibilities of taking over the company in 2003. The former owner was ageing, and according to Jeffrey and Hans, more was needed to make VISKONglas future-proof. They realised that they stand strong together. Jeffrey: “Hans has experience on the manufacturing floor, is very strong in terms of production techniques and knows exactly what can and cannot be done with glass. My strength lies in the field; I consult with customers and ensure a good assignment and measurements.

Preventing bankruptcy

Together Jeffrey and Hans have a lot of experience and decide to take over VISKONglas. After adding a temporary third partner to be able to fulfil the asking price, Jeffrey and Hans see their chance.

And we went all out. In the end, we managed to save the company from bankruptcy,” says Jeffrey. “We have always had a plan and exceeded our goals; when the plans were to achieve something within 5 years, we did so within 3 years. We have a real down-to-earth mentality of investing: we don’t buy anything with a loan, but only when we have the money. For example, all machines are now owned by us, not by the bank or investment companies. This has also helped us through the economic crisis. It gives us peace of mind when you know that the machines have already been paid for, the only thing left to pay is mortgage and salaries.

Further growth after the economic crisis

Despite their smart decisions, Jeffrey and Hans are also suffering from the economic crisis. When the economy picks up again in 2016, they started to work hard to rebuild.  ”We lost a number of employees with a lot of knowledge and had to come up with a smart plan to continue to grow. In 2018, we decided to buy glass commodities in bulk from abroad, which means that storage costs in the Netherlands will remain low. But that does require substantial pre-financing. This is when we started looking for external financing for the first time.

Crowdfunding: not immediately obvious, but the right choice

Obtaining funding is not that easy. Jeffrey: “On the road towards funding, I discussed with my colleague whether crowdfunding could be something for us. Still, we automatically went to the bank first. But we couldn’t work it out with the bank, because at the time of application, the bank asked for figures for 2018 and a forecast for 2019. Which we didn’t have ready yet. So it would take too long to get financing.

Our financial advisor at Credion drew our attention to the possibilities of crowdfunding. Because the idea was already in my head, I was curious about the possibilities. The whole process went fast after that, October was a welcome surprise, we got a clear proposal quickly and within 65 minutes after private investors were allowed to start lending, the project was fully financed. It is nice to see that October sees potential in us, and has confidence.

Tips from the entrepreneur for the entrepreneur

With 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, we wanted to ask for Jeffrey’s tips to other entrepreneurs who want to grow. Jeffrey: “Take it as it comes, but anticipate what will happen in the near future and make sure you always have a plan. I see plenty of companies that don’t really have structure and are faced with surprises, which in turn hampers their growth.

And as far as financing is concerned, take a good look at how much you need and what it will bring you. In any case, be well informed!