Esther Bisschop is co-founder of start-up Th3rd. This year, she was part of a start-up delegation attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In 2016, Th3rd was awarded a subsidy from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) for the purpose of carrying out a feasibility study (MIT feasibility project).
Th3rd is a start-up and a specialist in 3D scanning. The company has been around since the end of 2014. Th3rd's major shareholders and founders are Tristan Bethe and Rudo Bisschop.
The firm now has six employees. While Th3rd is established in the Netherlands, it also works for major international brands such as Adidas, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger.
How did you get in contact with RVO.nl?
"Th3rd got in contact with RVO.nl through our accountant. They give guidance to businesses when it comes to subsidy applications, which is how we became acquainted with RVO.nl. Since we're also situated in the same building as StartupDelta in B Amsterdam, we get to hear things through the grapevine, such as whether there are activities or promotions for start-ups where RVO.nl is often represented or mentioned."
"Furthermore, we always keep an eye on RVO.nl's newsletter to see whether there are any trade missions that might be of interest to us. We think it's great that there's a body in the Netherlands specifically set up for Dutch enterprise."
Do you get the impression that female entrepreneurs experience more or different impediments than men when it comes to doing international business and, if so, what would they be?
"While I never got that impression myself, I've only done business with people from other Western cultures. I don't experience any impediments for me personally in the UK or the USA. However I can imagine that women do encounter impediments in doing business in countries where business is seen as the preserve of men from a cultural perspective."
"It might also be trickier for women to leave home for travelling. In that regard, I'm very happy with my partner as we support each other in our ambitions and stand in for one another if one of us is travelling abroad. I fully realise that this situation might not be true for every household."
What do you think that RVO.nl could improve to reach more female entrepreneurs?
"To reach more female entrepreneurs specifically, I have no idea… Since there are specific Women in Tech conferences, organising a mission to more female-oriented events or topics might help. At the end of the day, RVO.nl is there for Dutch enterprises, irrespective of whether the entrepreneurs are male or female."
Have you got any advice for other female entrepreneurs?
"Believe in yourself. Don't allow yourself to be held back by what others say and ensure that you're surrounded by people who provide you with positive support."
Why do you think it's important for more women to be part of a trade mission?
"To be honest, I've never thought about the above statement. In any case, I think that striking a good balance between men and women on a trade mission is a good thing. Men and women complement one another, in the business world as well."
What triggered you to be part of a trade mission?
"Within Th3rd, I'm primarily focusing on promotion, commerce and PR. Once we had a clear market proposition and product, we immediately started looking at ways to promote this. Major international trade fairs nowadays offer all kinds of opportunities for innovative start-ups to exhibit their products or services. Back then, we drew up a shortlist. As CES was at the top of this list, it was one event that we really wanted to attend. We've now done three fairs, which always yield interesting contacts, potential partners, clients and inspiring new ideas. We find attending extremely worthwhile and we'll definitely continue doing so in the future."
How can RVO.nl get more women to join trade missions?
"I really don't know. It doesn't feel as though you won me over in any specific way. We wanted Th3rd to be part of a trade mission and found RVO.nl as part of the preparations for that purpose. As I see it, the fact that I'm a woman really isn't a factor."
What did the mission do for you?
"It was a very interesting week, in which we made great new contacts, both in the Netherlands and of course abroad. CES is a great stepping stone for possibly transitioning to the American market at some point. It's also a fantastic opportunity to validate your proposition again and form new ideas on your product or perhaps a new sales market that you could explore for your products."