startup visa experience mayra.
This is how my story started with the startup visa program at B. Although I studied chemical engineering and worked as an engineer for five years, my true passion are horses. I started as a show jumping rider when I was four. Since then I learned a tremendous amount about horse care, breeding and handling. After I quit my career as an engineer, I worked in a stud farm in Colombia, where I am from, and in an equestrian centre in France. Those years convinced me to work with horses full-time. The first step was to complete a masters in Equine Science. With a scientific engineering background and loads of practical experience with horses, I knew I’d be a valuable addition to any equestrian team or enterprise.
One year ago, I decided to start an equestrian enterprise in cooperation with my partner Camillo Bermudez. Camillo is not only an expert in the world of horse-riding, he also owns his own equestrian centre in Bogotá. His degree in commerce and international relations made him a true businessman too, and a dream partner to my startup. We called it My Horse Dealer, a mobile platform that tries to connect the European and South American markets. I discovered that there’s a surplus of horseback riders in South America who do not have access to the stock of horses in Europe. My Horse Dealer brings both continents together, helping both sellers and buyers find exactly what they look for: a place where you find the horse you’ve always dreamt of and a place where you can sell your horse in a quick and uncomplicated manner.
I decided to apply for B.’s Startup Visa program after pitching my ideas to a the INCO Business Group. INCO is a company that assists entrepreneurs from abroad who wish to enter the Dutch and European markets. In turn, one of the facilitators of INCO was in contact with B. Amsterdam. I was very fond of the idea to go to the Netherlands. In the world, Europe is known as the Mecca of horses. Setting up my business in the Netherlands was an easy ride compared to previous experiences. B. acted as a true facilitator should and was a tremendous help with all special rules and regulations for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.
The greatest challenge till now was the language. Since I deal with many local horse enterprises who have emotional attachments with their horses, it is important for me to be able to converse in their mother tongue. However good the general level of English is, people feel more at home in their own tongue. So when I joined the Startup Visa program January this year, I immediately started practicing Dutch.
What helps me most are the soft landing sessions. All topics important to an entrepreneur are discussed thoroughly and in a logical order. What’s more, I meet a lot of young and creative people at B. They stimulate me to rigorously test my own ideas against market standards. And to develop the guts to sometimes consciously ignore advice and do your own thing. These innovative perspectives are vital for the growth of not only my startup but the international horse industry in general.
Mayra Gonzales Velez, 31 years // CEO and co-founder of My Horse Dealer