From campus friendship to entrepreneurial adventure: the Boatique story

Alumni Loek and Ole, navigating the waters of entrepreneurship together

February 7 2024

It's a common occurrence at Nyenrode Business University that a strong friendship formed on campus is the initial step toward an entrepreneurial journey. In the case of former bachelor students Loek de Lyon and Ole Nijst, the entrepreneurial spark ignited during the pandemic when their shared passion for boats became the foundation of a study project. This project evolved into their own venture, Boatique, a leasing concept for electric company sloops.

From campus friends to business partners

We find Loek (22) and Ole (24) seated by the waterfront of one of the canals in Amsterdam. They share how their friendship evolved from campus acquaintances to roommates and eventually business partners. "At Nyenrode, you learn not to judge too quickly and to view every encounter as an opportunity for friendship," says Loek. Ole adds, "It turned out that both of us had chosen Nyenrode because of its personal and entrepreneurial atmosphere. Here, you're encouraged to take risks and forge your own path. That's where we connected!"

During the pandemic, the duo purchased a second hand diesel boat. Thus began the learning process, where Loek and Ole discovered a lot about boats and made valuable mistakes. They are now working full time for Boatique, offering an operational leasing concept for custom-made electric sloops. They focus on completely catering to businesses and already have multiple boats in their fleet.

"We extend the boardroom to the water"

The leasing concept originates from a common problem of their target audience. Ole says, "We noticed that people are enthusiastic about boats but often hesitant due to the hassle involved." Thus, the Boatique proposition was born. "We build sustainable, electric sloops and lease them to customers. We take care of maintenance, insurance, mooring, cleaning, and the skippers, allowing the customer to be entirely free from worries and hassle."

With electric boats, the duo is preparing for the future requirements of the city of Amsterdam, which will reject diesel boats from 2030. The benefits of electric boating go beyond sustainability and regulations. Loek: "It also offers a peaceful, quiet experience, ideal for business meetings on the canals. A custom-made company boat, branded in the customer's style, becomes a powerful marketing tool."

Self-awareness and effective collaboration

While a good friendship isn't a guarantee of a succesful collaboration, their partnership has exceeded expectations so far. The ability to communicate openly, based on a deep understanding of each other's personalities, contributes to the success of their collaboration. The foundation for this was laid at Nyenrode. Ole: "You learn to be aware of your characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, and how to effectively deal with them, also in relation to others." 

The core of their collaboration lies in the dynamic between Loek's realism and Ole’s opportunism. Due to their complementary personalities, they have to convince each other when making decisions, making them more robust and thoughtful.

Future plans

Loek and Ole step into the future of Boatique with optimism and determination. Although still in the startup phase, the company is making significant strides in expanding its customer base and the number of boats in Amsterdam. But, with an eye for adventure, they also look forward to unexplored waters and perhaps, to cities elsewhere in the Netherlands where Boatique can drop its anchors.

For more information about Boatique and its possibilities, please visit the website:

Loek and Ole are graduess of the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Nyenrode. This is a three-year academic program designed for young and ambitious students aspiring to a career in business.

For the 6th consecutive year ('17-'23), the program has been recognized as the best program in International Business (source: Keuzegids Universiteiten).

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