You work 13 years for a company that ships textbooks. Together with a tight-knit team, you set up a functioning logistics system and set up warehouses and a packaging line. Until the company decides to move operations to another part of the country. It happened to Simone Hiemstra. She decided not to let the knowledge and skills of the team and the location and technical equipment go to waste. She set up two private limited companies and started her own fulfillment center. For funding, she turned to the MKB Fonds Drenthe.
Simone Hiemstra got the opportunity to set up her logistics dream in Emmen with the new perspective loan from MKB Fonds Drenthe. 'I had never heard of the MKB Fonds Drenthe until a fellow entrepreneur pointed it out to me. It turned out to be the perfect solution to my funding problem.'
Simone worked for a logistics company in textbooks. In the 13 years she worked there, she built up a vast knowledge of logistics, e-commerce, automation, setting up a warehouse and setting up a packaging line. When the company decided in 2021 to cease operations as of the end of 2022, Simone saw opportunities for further development. She was then given the opportunity and full cooperation by her employer to start her own company. She took not only all her knowledge and experience, but also her colleagues into her new company. At the same location, taking over the inventory and website, she started a new fulfillment center in Emmen under the name Punt-uit.
Study books out, other web shop products in
Simone was given ample time to grow out of one business and into another. In the transition year, she built the company into a thriving logistics process that works well not only for textbooks, but also for a variety of other products. 'Research showed that there are very few fulfillment companies in the Northern Netherlands. I also noticed that many web shops in the North struggled with delivering packages to the postal service before 6 p.m. and the ability to take orders until 10 p.m. I was convinced: there is a market here. I was convinced: there is a market for this in this region. Since October 2022, she has run her business independently, together with her own experienced team.
I very much wanted an independent funding partner with no other interests. MKB Fonds Drenthe turned out to be such a partner.
Independent funding partner
As sure as Simone was of the feasibility of this business concept, she found it exciting to get funding. "I needed a certain amount to take over the inventory, but also working capital and money to pre-finance the stock of shipping boxes, for example. I could finance part of it myself, but as a start-up I didn't have a lot of fat on my ribs. I went to three banks, but that didn't work out because I couldn't show two financial statements. I got offers from my network, but I really wanted an independent funding partner without other interests, so that I could carry out my own plans for the first two years without feeling guilty. MKB Fonds Drenthe turned out to be such a partner.
After Simone contacted MKB Fonds Drenthe, things went smoothly. After two detailed meetings with the advisors, answering many critical questions and providing the necessary documents, Simone soon got the green light. 'I found it very exciting. Someone else seriously looks at the plans and assesses you. Real work is done. The green tick that came out of that was really nice,' says Simone. 'Not only because of the funding needed, but also because an external independent company expresses confidence in you.
Robotization versus flexibility
'One threat I was warned about is robotization. Automation is something I enjoy most as a fresh entrepreneur. Discovering how to make strides and where things can be done better. In the case of many products of about the same size, an automated process is very interesting. However, we find that there are opportunities for versatile products and there is demand from different webshops that we can connect. It is a strength that we are not bound to fixed formats in this regard. In fact, we can send all products. Thereby we have an automated process for a certain assortment.'
Simone's prediction was right: the demand from the market was so great and urgent that she soon received several orders, so that with only four months on the clock her company was already managing stocks and shipments for 16 web shops. From tools to barbecues, from Christmas gifts to grip socks, they can ship all products. You can also turn to Punt-uit for other logistics issues.
Besides the necessary funding, Simone received a lot of advice and tips both from the advisors of the MKB Fonds Drenthe and from the investment committee. 'That is very nice, they really think along with you. They also made it clear that I can always come to them with business questions. It doesn't stop when the money is transferred.
Punt-uit is one of the first companies to receive a perspective loan from the MKB Fonds Drenthe. The perspective loan is a new product that not only looks at past performance, but especially emphasizes future possibilities, perspective.