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News & Stories High Tech Campus Eindhoven
Interview

Campus owner and investor Marcel Boekhoorn shares his views

Sep 13, 2016 11:33:12 AM. By: High Tech Campus

Marcel Boekhoorn’s heart lies with high-tech innovation. Personal interest in high-tech companies was for him the absolute trigger to buy the Campus in 2012. As the owner of Ramphastos Investments, he sees the Campus as a long-term investment and deliberately enables the management to participate in the company’s further development.

His famous credo is: “If you can’t share, you can't multiply.” Read Marcels business insights about entrepreneurship, investments and growth.

How do you identify opportunities?
“Identifying opportunities means being able to think fast, to make the proper combinations with which you can enhance the strength of companies. Of course, this differs on a case by case basis. Is it a growth company, does it offer potential, is it a game changer? Or it is perhaps more of a makeshift enterprise to which you have to add things to improve it? At Ramphastos Investments, we do not look for specific sectors but for innovative companies with global potential. Enterprises must have a unique competitive position (through to a product or service, a patent or a market leader position) and growth potential (buy & build, innovation, new markets, partnerships). In addition, they have to respond to a strong underlying trend, such as the ageing population, privacy & security, out-of-home or e-business.”

How do you identify air bubbles?
“Monthly, about 200 deals are submitted to us. Then we make a selection. I expect the entrepreneurs to be able to tell their story quickly and in plain Dutch. I am very much in favor of the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. No bulky business plans, but a strong basic story on an A4. If they can’t do that, I'm done after 5 minutes. Out of pure courtesy, I pour them a cup of coffee, but by that time I have already taken my decision.”

What is the secret of investing?
“I’m an entrepreneur-investor. I never see investment separate from entrepreneurship. In this context, the most important issue is the right kind of management. I always say: If the guy is good, I’ll make sure the industrial building is good! You can keep investing loads of money in a company, but if the management is not right, you’re only pouring good money after bad. My feeling tells me that I’m a people manager, and that’s exactly what I like to be. Of course, I carefully examine the underlying figures and trends that enable a company to become better and bigger for the longer term. Last but not least, we need creativity and guts because these character traits are essential if you really want to make the difference for the future of such an enterprise. You have to come up with something that no-one else has come up with yet, and you have to realize it as well.”

What strengths do you absolutely have to develop as a company?
“That’s very simple: as an organization, know which your USPs are and which aren’t. You have to bring the things that you’re really good at to perfection. And you have to tackle the things that you’re less good at. Give them up or bring in other people with a strong track record in this area, who can solve the problems for you. This applies both to business processes and to people.”

Which competencies are absolutely necessary to be successful?
“As an entrepreneur, you need a healthy dose of perseverance, intuition and creativity. Being prepared to take risks is another character trait you need. I join an industry to do business, preferably for the long term, which means that you have to be able to lay solid foundations to make sure that you can successfully continue building on them for a long time.”

What is the greatest danger for growing businesses?
“Lack of focus. Realtors are always talking about location, location, location. I say: strategy, strategy, strategy. Never stop focusing; don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the issues of the day. Stay firm. And always make sure that you have sufficient reserves to finance your growth. This will keep you flexible and ready to start up new things. For example, on the Campus we have decided to encourage and facilitate start-up activities. We do this with, among other things, multi-tenant business buildings and accelerator programs like HighTechXL. This appeals to an interesting target group and it is good for the ambiance. We all know that there are promising businesses among the young innovative companies. If they are successful, so are we!”

Header photo (c) Maurits Giesen / Quote 

High_Tech_Campus_Eindhoven_luchtfoto.jpg

 

What are the most important lessons you learned as an entrepreneur?
“I’ve learned a lot from my first bankruptcy. Since then, I’ve always been looking for good managers, because entrepreneurs aren’t always the best managers. Most of the time I aim for a majority share. In addition, we only deposit money once instead of constantly depositing small amounts. I have also learned to let go at an earlier stage and, if necessary, to accept my losses. Focus on the goal, with the help of the best professionals. And my most important lesson in this list: timing is everything."

The Campus
Philips didn’t regard the further development of High Tech Campus Eindhoven as a core activity, and so it was only a logical step to search for an independent party to transfer it to. At the time, the Campus was to be sold to a party who in the end wasn’t able to raise the purchase price; this gave me the chance to negotiate a nice deal. For us, in this area, it truly meant a once in a lifetime deal. So, make sure to be at the right time in the right place. As Brainport’s beating heart of innovation, the Campus has a unique position in the market and more than adequate international growth potential on the longer term. It’s not just Mayor and Ambassador Rob van Gijzel who has always brought this to the attention with so much energy and enthusiasm, it is the truth. Nice to be able to seize such an opportunity with both hands.”

About Marcel Boekhoorn
Marcel Boekhoorn started his career in 1991 as a register accountant at Deloitte & Touche, where he became the youngest partner ever. In 1994 he founded Ramphastos Investments N.V. By focusing on value creation and market leaders, Marcel and his team succeeded time and again in realizing successful exits. Examples are: Bakker Bart, Cocachoc, Boemer Groep, Novaxess , Telfort, Motip Dupli and Sim Industries.

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