Turning Bright Ideas into Good Business

John Janssen, manager business innovationteam Limburg

This bank is full of people with a mission. They work hard to make the world a better place and really make a difference. John Janssen (50) is one of those employees with a mission. As the manager of the Rabobank Business Innovation Team in the Dutch province of Limburg, John’s job involves giving start-ups and growing companies the boost they need to grow sustainably.


Wake-up call

‘We work with seven regional Rabobanks to boost the innovative potential of Limburg. We try to sound a wake-up call for entrepreneurs. Our aim is to broaden their horizons by asking thought-provoking questions: What value do you add to the world? Where are you and your business heading and what do you need to get there? Innovation is such a huge concept, so we offer innovation coaching, we challenge entrepreneurs, put them in touch with our network and – if necessary – suggest solutions for funding issues.’

Head for business

‘In our role we focus purely on the entrepreneur. The Rabobank account manager takes care of the financial stuff, giving us complete freedom to get on the entrepreneur’s wavelength and act as a sounding board and challenger to their growth ambitions. Ok, you’re the brains behind a start-up, but do you have the head for business to make your discovery a success? The road from ideation to market, and from bright ideas to good business is a long one. When a venture is growing fast the entrepreneur needs to take a good long look at him or herself and ask: have I got what it takes to move the company forward or do I need different skills? ’

Making dreams come true

‘My job is so cool! What could be more rewarding than helping people make their dreams come true? Preventing an entrepreneur from making a mistake they’ll come to regret is pretty rewarding too. If someone has their head in the clouds, you give them a reality check, which makes them face the fact that their plan will take twice the effort expected, with much lower returns.’

Sustainable windowframes

‘One of the entrepreneurs we’re helping now is a young guy from Spain who wants to make various circular products from compressed PUR. Window frames and pipelines for instance. He moved to Limburg to tap into this region’s knowhow. One of the companies advising him is the big chemicals firm DSM. This young Spaniard intrigued me: he was able to explain a process which is Greek to me in very simple language. He’s already done so much research, he knows exactly what he’s talking about. I’m happy to go the extra mile for someone like that. Rabobank is making venture capital available to support his start-up, known as Indresmat, so that he can finally set up the company he’s been dreaming of, right here in Limburg.’