27 February 2024
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Column: Spin-offs and start-ups
The corona period revealed that many students suffer from feelings of loneliness, stress and pressure. Over three-quarters of students feel alone, with a quarter of them feeling a strong degree of loneliness. It confirms that connection between people is one of the most important things in life. And that is exactly what Saclé wants to encourage: celebrating life, together.
We speak to Bart Sanders, co-founder of Saclé. His idea originated during his training as Branch Manager Wholesale (Business Administration) at Summa College.
Bart: "I have always worked hard; from loading stuff at the market, washing dishes in a restaurant to filling shelves in a supermarket. When I turned seventeen, I started my own e-commerce websites selling products from Chinese, German and Dutch suppliers. I lived in my office, without any luxuries. But with a huge drive to make my business a success. In doing so, it was a challenge to scale step by step and not go too fast. It did eventually earn me a significant turnover."
After a stranded attempt to market a new product with another founder, Bart took a different tack. "In 2019, we heard from many partygoers that the shots in the Netherlands were always the same. They were looking for something new and unique, with an exotic, fresh holiday feel. That's when the seed was planted for Saclé. A year later, after several rounds of testing, we arrived at a fresh vodka-based flavour."
Meanwhile, we landed in a pandemic, and the country went on lockdown. Bart: "That period made me even more aware of the value of being connected with each other. I started talking to students, and saw how difficult this period was for everyone. The idea arose to be able to have unforgettable moments with each other as soon as it was possible again. You are only young once, that time should not be taken away from you."
That the cafés were closed did not stop Bart from testing Saclé's concept. "We had enough time to let a lot of people taste it. So in terms of taste, we tested more than eighty samples among several students. Saclé came out with the highest rating."
Not only the taste, the appearance of the drink also played an important role. "We chose purple, the colour of magic and nightlife. Purple is just a beautiful and unique colour."
The whole process of finding partners, making plans and testing samples took more than a year. Finally, in 2021, Bart introduced Saclé, the new drink brand that stands for a complete experience: the need for students to be together, have fun, share love and emotions. "With Saclé, we develop drinking games, festivals and events. And, we even produce our own music. The experience is mainly defined by the challenges and activities we do, the videos we make, the parties we organise and the trips we arrange. We do a lot more than just sell shots and drink. It is precisely the activities that make the experiences. With Saclé, we offer students all the elements they need to build a community. Where you experience unforgettable moments together: Celebrate life!"
It is hugely important to do something you are passionate about and fully support. I see that reflected in my own drive and enthusiasm, but even more in the company's results and the reactions of those around me: people are very good and helpful. This, in turn, influences the drive of your employees.
Sell a product you had always wanted to buy yourself. And that you know exactly to whom. Know your target group inside out: what do they do, who are they, what do they listen to and what do they like? Especially if you are going up against competitors selling similar products, knowing your target audience is hugely important. Make sure you know them better than your target group itself, so you can anticipate all trends and emotions. Because that's what it's all about: spotting opportunities and acting on them.
Create a brand your target audience will become a fan of.
What is important to you in entrepreneurship?
"I think it is important to make an impact with my business. To create positive changes in the world with innovative products or unforgettable experiences. That triggers me: I always want to create things that other companies or organisations have never done before. In this case, experiences that my target group will never forget. I almost always approach things differently from competitors. I would rather fail (read: learn) by being creative and unique than become successful by copying. I therefore deliberately take risks and often go out of my comfort zone. But that does help me move forward. And of course I keep developing myself by reading, taking courses and attending events."
I would rather learn with being creative and unique than become successful with copycats.
What help have you had from Summa in entrepreneurship?
"At Summa College's centre of entrepreneurship, I was in the SOR (Students Entrepreneurs Scheme). Here I got more freedom for my business, took pitch and presentation training courses and got useful tips & tricks for entrepreneurship. So very nice that Summa gives space to motivated young entrepreneurs and supports them where necessary."
What are your short-term and long-term plans?
"In the short term, I want to put Saclé well away in the Netherlands. As a household name, as a brand. As a company that creates unique experiences. At a later stage, we definitely want to go to areas in Europe where many Dutch people come and then also establish this great brand in other countries.
Ultimately, my personal ambition is to create a big global brand that has a positive impact on people. I also want to set up a foundation to change people's lives and influence certain topics in the world. Think about supporting people who really need it, supporting great companies, influential world changes and countering bad global actions."
What is your motto?
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Quit talking, begin doing.