Students run university’s clubhouse

gepubliceerd : 15 November 2014

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Combining your study with a business? Is that even possible? If it is up to students Jorrit and Martijn, yes it is! Beside their studies, they run the Van Swinderen Huys. The Van Swinderen Huys is the new clubhouse of the University of Groningen (RUG). It is a monumental building in Groningen’s city centre, based at a close distance of the university library. Behind the classic front, we find the modern business of two young entrepreneurs.

For years, Martijn and Jorrit (both 24) asked themselves what they would find behind the stately, dignified front of the building. In April 2014 they found out. The university was looking for students who could run the property. Both students applied, got hired and found an atmospheric, but unused building with extremely modern technology. Today, they’ve been running the Van Swinderen Huys (VSH) for almost three months and they know every inch of the building.

But what do they do? Simply said: they rent the rooms. “We’ve seen it all, use for office yoga, for a 3D-printer, you name it”, says Martijn. They rent to students, who want to celebrate their graduation or to study associations. The biggest space can be filled with approximately 100 persons and seven will fit in the smallest. They have a cook – who serves simple sandwiches, but knows his ‘haute cuisine’ as well – and they’ve got barkeepers. Jorrit is in charge of the money and Martijn runs the floor, although they would rather call themselves “financial and operational director”.

Jorrit studies Social Geography and Martijn studies Pharmacy, which they are able to combine with the business. It seems that they have a decent salary when Jorrit says that they “share in the profit” and they get a standard amount of 100 euros a month as ‘pocket money’. However, the true added value lies in their personal development. Martijn’s study lacks entrepreneurship and with this experience he hopes to get ready for starting his own business in the pharmaceutical industry. Jorrit already has his own catering business.

The guys proudly show the wine library and the room with the fireplace. Many paintings brighten up the room. The portrait of Van Swinderen (1784-1851), who was a Natural History Professor in Groningen, hangs in the biggest space, surrounded by five flat-screens. Every room has a little touchscreen, which functions as the motherboard of the building. With it, the temperature, lights and every single electrical outlet can be managed. “The beauty of the building lies in the combination between modern technology and the classical elements”, says Martijn.

Jorrit and Martijn have the honor to enjoy the beauty of the building for some more time. They stay in charge until December 2015. Then it is up to the next two (or three) students to take up the business. According to Jorrit, running the Van Swinderen Huys is “the chance of a lifetime” for entrepreneurial students.

Do you want to see the Van Swinderen Huys yourself? Jorrit and Martijn welcome you all to visit them at Oude Boteringestraat 19 and they definitely would like to give you a personal tour! 

By Koos Tervooren