Technische Bedrijfskunde | Inholland Alkmaar
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An innovation in the world of coasters. ‘How?’, I hear you thinking. Rinus Kruijer came up with De Wonderzetter, together with Lucas Koeleman, Tycho van Etten, Pieter Bos and Mike Tesselaar. This multifunctional coaster protects the table against scratches and circles. The product distinguishes itself by a microfiber cloth on the bottom to clean up spilled drinks quickly and easily. The top is made of sustainable bamboo. Rinus: “The Wondercoaster oozes luxury.”
The idea for The Wondercoaster originated in the fourth year of Industrial Engineering and Management at Inholland Alkmaar. During the project Young Entrepreneurship the students focus on sustainability and innovation. Rinus decided to set up his own company together with three other classmates.
Rinus, why is The Wondercoaster so special?
“The Wonderzetter is thé innovation in the field of coasters. It is a multifunctional coaster. The top is made of durable bamboo, tightly varnished, so it looks good on a contemporary table. The coaster oozes luxury. It has a microfiber cloth on the bottom while the top protects the table from marks and scratches, like a traditional coaster. If you spill your drink, the bottom of the coaster easily absorbs that. You can then remove the bottom and put it in the washing machine.”
How did you come up with the idea of a coaster?
“We had to come up with an innovative product. This means you start looking at the world in a completely different way. What ‘problems’ do I see? What do I miss? We came up with this idea while I was drinking a beer. I put the beer on the table. The condensation makes the table wet. We then thought: how can we solve this? I’m sure there are materials that can absorb moisture. That is how the idea came about. ”
How did you develop the coaster?
“Our first idea was a plastic coaster. Initially, we wanted to glue the cloth directly onto the coaster. This way, you could put the coaster ánd cloth in the dishwasher. But during our market research, we discovered that people prefer bamboo. It’s durable, more luxurious and easier to work with. ”
What was the next step?
“First we made a prototype to test the idea. We showed this prototype to different people, asking them what they think. We got some great and useful feedback, like the cloth that we couldn’t remove. We solved this problem in a new prototype. That’s how we kept changing things.”
You can also personalize The Wondercoaster, right?
“Yes correct! We offer personal engraving. Many people are enthusiastic about this. We’ve already had many orders before we even made the product! You can upload your design and then we produce it. The demand was higher than our stock. We even bought an extra machine to speed up production.”
What is sustainable about The Wondercoaster?
“By consciously thinking about the production, we are able to minimize the impact on the environment. We also want to make a positive impact on the people in our region. To give something back to society, we organized creative afternoons for people with intellectual disabilities. During these afternoons they can paint Wondercoasters. We then sell these Wondercoasters with the full proceeds going to the organization where the creative afternoon took place. This created dozens of beautiful Wondercoasters and happy faces of the participants. Sales have gone so fast that we have donated more than 25% of our total profit to charities.”
The company is going to make a restart. You do this without your fellow students. What are your expectations?
“I have more responsibilities now, but I like to learn new skills and figure things out. I love it! I see a big future in this product. For example, The Wondercoaster can be used as a promotional gift for companies. I’m now looking for partnerships with suppliers to outsource production. I hope to generate more publicity through word of mouth but also via trade fairs.”
When will you be satisfied?
“I’m only really satisfied when I can sit back, relax while everything runs smoothly. No, just kidding! It would be great if I’m able to work on this product all day and that it will eventually sell itself. I want to be able to fully focus on production and improving it.”
Rinus, what tip do you want to give to students?
“Try to always keep your customer in mind. What does he think of the product? What does he want? Ask around, think about what others would like, not just you.”