- Founders: Jeroen van den Eerenbeemt
- Founded in: 2013
- Employees: 22
- Money raised: Growth company always financed from its own turnover
- Ultimate goal: To become the world's largest online platform for airport parking
Jeroen van den Eerenbeemt already knew at the age of thirteen that he wanted to become an entrepreneur. With older cousins who had a lucrative business in cars, scooters, and poker games he had enough examples on hand to be able to judge whether that was something for him. He didn’t want to work for a boss because he wouldn’t be able to work out his ideas directly and would have to stay within a framework determined from above.
At age twenty, he read a newspaper report stating that the number of passengers at Eindhoven Airport would double from 2.5 million to 5 million. Two weeks later he saw a broadcast on the Dutch TV show Radar about parking problems at Schiphol Airport.
That was at the end of 2012. Van den Eerenbeemt then did an internship at an online marketing agency. There he asked the director if they would build a website for him that would allow Dutch and Flemish travelers to compare parking spaces at different airports in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, a formula he would later expand with direct online bookings. For €600 the online marketing agency built the website. This was the birth of his company Vliegen en Parkeren (“Flying and Parking”), which would later fall under the umbrella brand ROOSH.
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Turnover increase of 1,000 percent
Within a year, the turnover of Vliegen en Parkeren increased by one thousand percent. In 2013 it made 500 bookings, and in 2014 it made 5,000. Van den Eerenbeemt earned about €5 per booking and put the entire turnover back into the company. That continued until the beginning of 2018, says Van den Eerenbeemt, so he never had to look for investors.
In 2017 his partner Martijn Meeuws officially joined the business and together they expanded the company further. “The rapid growth continued,” says Van den Eerenbeemt, “despite the fact that the corona pandemic had a major impact on air traffic and the corresponding demand for airport parking. “In the first two months of the pandemic, there were days where we had literally zero bookings. So that was tough. Luckily we did have some financial cushion. So with government support and the flexibility of our staff, we’ll get through it. The current forecast is that by the end of 2020 the airport industry will have recovered by about 50 percent.”
Marketing strategies for other companies
“To get through this time, our 21 employees have contributed hours,” says Van den Eerenbeemt. “The majority of the team has a min-max contract. But there are also staff members with a 40-hour contract. Fortunately, this last group has shown solidarity, so we were able to pay everyone for just 32 hours. In the meantime, we are slowly increasing the number of hours worked again.
To generate additional income in the meantime, the company developed online marketing strategies for other businesses. “We have the knowledge and the most important languages for our market such as English, German, French, Italian and Spanish on a native level,” says Van den Eerenbeemt. “This gives us a unique selling point compared to other online marketing agencies.”
In the end he foresees a good future for his company in online services related to parking and airport accessibility. That is where their expertise lies. In addition to parking bookings in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, ROOSH is developing another scalable concept, scheduled to be launched this year.
Think global, act local
ROOSH is one of eight international players with a platform in multiple countries. Their market includes large companies from England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Each country also has its own local players. In this competitive market they distinguish themselves by a very user-friendly website with excellent information. In a few weeks they will go live everywhere with the fourth version of their website, reservation system and customer portal, enabling them to continue to grow. They also see opportunities in the B2B market. Another important pillar of their strategy is that all their employees come from the countries in which the company operates. This helps them with their ‘think global – act local’ strategy.
Innovation instead of burning money
The combination of this strategy and using its own technology enables ROOSH to compete with large companies abroad, says Van den Eerenbeemt. In France, for example, investors have pumped tens of millions of euros into two online platforms, providing them with a huge budget to advertise. ROOSH doesn’t have that. As a result, they need to plan their steps in detail and remain innovative.