Growing Emmen is an all-in-one centre for Startups in Drenthe
By Redmar Bosma
“The strength of Growing Emmen is the entrepreneurial community, which consists of a diverse group of people”, says Dènis Assen (43), who founded the start-up incubator in 2018 together with his wife Alya. “We have committed partners, such as the municipality, NHL Stenden and the province and now have more than 150 members, mostly entrepreneurs. Some of them take their first cautious steps towards entrepreneurship as members, while others are already very experienced and looking for a fresh perspective. The product we sell, therefore, is a meeting. Diversity in the community creates wonder and innovation, and a new company is created in no time.”
Full service- including an app
Growing Emmen also offers physical space for entrepreneurship, with plentiful meeting rooms within which events, master classes and workshops are organised. There are also 27 office spaces and twenty ‘flex desks’. And, usually, they are all full, says Assen.
“We moved to the Parallelweg in July to expand our space, and we may have to move again after a while! Last week we received eight new registrations, and I am very happy with how things are going”, says Assen.
“Organizing training and courses is now canceled due to the Coronavirus, but fortunately office space rental is still going well. Entrepreneurs find it nice and safe to have their own place”, he says.
The company has also introduced an app, says Assen. “It contains a lot of information about our members. If you have an idea, you can throw it in, which can create a so-called “Growing Circle”. This is a group of people who have an affinity with the same subject and can talk about it with each other. This is how new plans arise. ”
“Before I started Growing Emmen, I worked as a regional marketeer for the Emmen region, among other things. It is also about connecting, bringing parties together and strengthening each other. Just like we do here. I worked as a freelancer for a while. That was very intensive and you always work for someone else ”, says Assen.
Assen was inspired to start Growing Emmen after attending a theatre performance. “I soon realized that it is very hard work. My wife and I sometimes work six days a week. But it’s a lot of fun to do, so it definitely pays off”, he says.
If Assen were to use his own company as a benchmark, he thinks that international business in and around Emmen will continue to pick up. “We are getting more and more entrepreneurs and students from abroad to join us. They regularly attend our events, which are in Dutch. So it seemed more practical to us to organise an international day, the last Thursday of the month, on which students, entrepreneurs and experts are given a stage. The working language will then be English. This way they get to know each other better and feel at home here.”
Image: Dénis and Alya Assen courtesy of Growing Emmen.