Sharing Insights for the Sharing Economy

Breakfast Session in Amsterdam

May 22 2019
On the 14th of May 2019, the fourth and final Nyenrode Breakfast Session of the 2018-19 academic year took place at our Keizersgracht campus in Amsterdam. The session was focused on the sharing economy as well as on choosing an area of concentration from among several different business services. The keynote speech was given by Harmen van Sprang, co-founder of shareNL and the Sharing Cities Alliance, author of business book Share, and independent expert in the digital and sharing economy. In addition to these achievements, van Sprang is the initiator of Amsterdam Sharing City and gives advice on these topics to business and city leaders around the globe.

Van Sprang kicked off the session with an introduction to the sharing economy. He introduced the audience to the Sharing Cities Alliance, explaining that several big cities have now joined this alliance, where they can exchange information to answer questions such as “how to cope with Airbnb or electric scooters arriving in my city”? With his very small team, van Sprang delivers a near-impossible amount of guest speeches, connection-building and advice sharing. The amount of work the small team delivers is astounding, made possible only by true passion and a belief in this model of organizing the economy. Correspondingly, one of the key questions of the case was centred around how to proceed in a sustainable way. Which business service to choose from among several valuable options? Where to place the focus?

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A passion for sharing

Van Sprang radiates passion for the sharing economy. Over the past decade, he explains, digital platforms have become an ever-growing part of our lives. One of the opportunities is that these platforms empower people to exchange all sorts of products and services “peer-to-peer”. Potential outcomes of this emerging phenomenon are more connected communities, economic resilience, sustainability and inclusive innovation. However, challenges also come into play. If we build our lives and work more and more on platforms, what will be the effect on traditional business models, on the future of work, but also on our cities and our society as a whole? These are some of the questions that Van Sprang’s organization helps municipalities, businesses and other organizations to decode.

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After giving advice, receiving it

During the session students, faculty and members of the Amsterdam business community discussed the case. How to proceed with this valuable business initiative? Which business activities are most worthy of the small team’s attention? The session ended with the students’ advice to Van Sprang. Nyenrode MSc-student Max Balder encouraged Van Sprang to concentrate his efforts on converting new cities to join the Alliance. To focus on a sales strategy, if you will. Most other members of the audience agreed with this strategy. Nyenrode BBA-student Theodore Anderson encouraged Van Sprang to consider business clients also. When asked why, he stated something to the effect of “that’s where the money is”. A pragmatic approach with a quicker conversion, considering municipalities tend to have a longer lead time for decision-making.

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A new step forward

Van Sprang shared that he was happy to participate in the breakfast session and that this moment of reflection came at exactly the right time for him. He will bring the insights back to his team as he enters a phase of re-evaluating the business focus for the upcoming period.
Four times per academic year Nyenrode Amsterdam organizes inspiring Breakfast Sessions. The mission of Nyenrode is to contribute to society by developing responsible leaders and the Breakfast Sessions provide a platform for students to be inspired by responsible leaders and to discuss amongst each other what responsible leadership means to them and how they want to fulfill this as a future leader.

For participating companies these sessions provide an open platform for them to share their personal story and experience. Furthermore, it offers a unique opportunity for companies to present their business challenge to our (inter)national top students and get advice and ideas in a short time. The feedback received on these recommendations show that the companies who participated are always positively surprised about the outcomes of these short but powerful morning sessions.

While enjoying a nice breakfast, the Breakfast Sessions at Nyenrode lead to surprising meetings and interesting conversations between students and business leaders. The connection between the LES values (Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Stewardship) of Nyenrode is central here. There is limited space (5 to 7 people from business and 15 students from Bachelor, Master and MBA programs). For more information please send an email to

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