Sabine Stuiver
  • Water
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Businesswoman Sabine Stuiver (Hydraloop Systems) on the source of success 'You have to have a good story'

The pace at which the Frisian company Hydraloop Systems is taking the world by storm is staggering. With the device "the Hydraloop" (an innovation with the look and feel of a refrigerator), water in homes and businesses can be recycled. This can reduce water consumption by up to 45 percent. And in a world where water shortages are a growing problem, this invention proved to be a real "hit. Co-founder Sabine Stuiver shared the secrets of her success on March 7, during a Business Lunch Talk at NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden. It is a lot of trial and error and getting back on your feet. And you have to have a story.

Yes, giddy you could certainly call Hydraloop's growth spurts. As such, the company can help solve the global problem of water shortage. "If you want to be successful you have to actually be able to solve a problem," Stuiver told a packed auditorium. "My husband Arthur (co-founder, ed.) and I saw years ago how much water is actually just flushed down the drain. And that while there is a huge scarcity in this world. We wanted to come up with something. After much trial and error, that's how we arrived at our product after years of development." The Hydraloop collects, cleans and reuses water from showers, baths, washing machines and air conditioning systems. The Hydraloop water is pure, clear, safe and disinfected. It can be reused as toilet flush water, for washing machines and garden watering. Hydraloop sells through a b2b model to partners where they focus primarily on new construction projects for the residential and commercial markets.


Sabine Stuiver also outlined that developing a product certainly does not guarantee success. "We started in a garage in our house in Muiderberg, then moved the company to Leeuwarden because here is the great Water Campus infrastructure, where we could get a lot of help. And here in the north is also the NOM; they helped us with their knowledge and network. For example, thanks to the NOM we got the tip to set up our production in 'Technologies Added', a factory in Emmen, which was actually ready for us and where you can completely customize your own space. That, as well as winning several awards, gave us an enormous boost. But still we have to keep explaining who we are in many places around the world."

As mentioned, winning entrepreneurial awards gave a lot of publicity. The pinnacle in that area, though, was winning several awards at the highly renowned Consumer and Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, in 2020. "That was a dream come true, but don't ask how," Stuiver revealed. "It was at a time when we were traveling all over the world to spread the word about Hydraloop. In two years, Arthur and I visited 26 trade shows. So when we flew to Las Vegas we were exhausted. I personally was actually physically on the verge of collapse, as all those years of top pressure were beginning to take their physical toll. The first few days in Las Vegas we were really drawing on our last reserves."

But then one day in Las Vegas, an email arrived. Message: 'Congratulations; you won first prize in the startups and sustainability section.' Sender CES. "We didn't know what hit us next," Stuiver said. "The mailbox completely flooded with requests from TV stations, international newspapers and magazines. Time Magazine had selected us in their top 25; imagine, of all the 20,000 products presented at the fair. A fair where the VCR was once presented and where giants like Apple and Samsung want to pitch their products every year. That's where we won gold; it was, in a word, overwhelming."

NHL students listening to Sabine Stuiver's Talk

Cash is King

Sabine and her team used the tailwind to grow their own organization and establish sales offices around the world. And funding, because for those who want to grow globally, that too is almost always a prerequisite, she told the audience. "Cash is King; you have to have the resources to sustain it for a while. For example, when we have a contract to supply 30 Hydraloops in a new vacation park to be built, it can sometimes take several years before it is finished and we can deliver and invoice. So you have to make sure you have bacon on the bones. In that context we are also very grateful to NOM. They saw sense with us early on and invested in us.

"And now what if you are a start-up entrepreneur with ambition, but no money in the bank?" an audience member asked. "Yes, then you do have a challenge" the entrepreneur stated. "My advice is: make sure you have a good story. Everything is storytelling these days. Your product or service has to solve a problem, but you also have to be able to explain it in a split second. And think broadly: if you don't have an investor yet, you might be able to borrow from family, or you could do crowdfunding."

Stuiver had one last piece of advice for the audience: "Stay close to yourself. You have to believe in it yourself. At Hydraloop, for example, we find it very inspiring that we make the world a little better with our product. But also know your own limits. As I said, I've noticed over the past few years that I get all sorts of physical complaints when I push myself too hard. If you want to keep it up longer you'd better also listen to your body regularly."

The audience learned that there is almost never a straight path to success. Starting and growing a business is an adventure with peaks and valleys, Stuiver admitted. "Entrepreneurship is great; you have freedom and get somewhere. But it is often a matter of falling down, getting up and, above all, getting going again."

About Hyperloop

Hydraloop Systems is located at the Water Campus Leeuwarden, but production of the Hydraloop systems is done at "Technologies Added"; a flexible manufacturing and assembly plant in Emmen.

Today the systems are sold from the Netherlands to Namibia and from Australia to the US. In recent years, Hydraloop Systems has been funded in part by NOM.

The Business Lunch Talk was organized by Founded in Friesland, in cooperation with the NOM.