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Frank Klemann

Frank Klemann studied Economics and graduated in 1991. After an entrepreneurial career at the Rabobank, he started Tulpfietsen in 2010.

“It is extremely satisfying to be an entrepreneur and to bear the risks that come with it. There is a big difference between being entrepreneurial and being an entrepreneur.”

Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?

“It was a rational decision to enroll in an economic program. I played (and play) the piano and considered going to the conservatory, but I decided to choose the study program with better perspectives for the labor market. Due to the great ambiance at the open day and the fact that I could easily find a student room, I decided to choose Tilburg over Rotterdam.”

Who was your favorite professor and why?

“Endowed professor technical business administration Ted Kumpe, who was active at Philips and had a lot of practical experience, provided interesting lectures with a great sense of humor. It was one of few lectures that I loyally attended every time. He also taught us about Japanese production methods that are still relevant for the bicycle industry, in which I am active now.”

Do you have an anecdote from your student life?

“Philosophy, taught by professor Plattel if I remember correctly, was, to put it gently, not my best course. Insufficient marks led to an oral exam at the professor’s home. We mainly talked about Leviathan, the mythical sea monster used by philosophers to denote absolute power. To my pride (and surprise), I passed this oral exam with a 9,5. I went from one extreme to another.”

Can you describe your career?

“I did an internship at the Rabobank and after my graduation I started in its the traineeship program. After several positions, among others account manager and office director, I became responsible for starting up the internet bank in Belgium. Consequently, in 2007, Bizner followed. The first internet bank for SMEs. Times were difficult for starting a new bank and after a while, Rabobank decided to integrate this bank in their regular business. For me, after years of ‘corporate entrepreneurship’, it was time to start taking on my own risks as an independent entrepreneur. Starting of very practically, by working through a list of traditional sectors that were ready for modernization, I arrived at the bicycle industry. A nice, durable, typically Dutch product that sparked my interest. I started off serving the consumer market and nowadays ‘Tulpfietsen’ has 15 employees and we are focusing more on the business market. It is extremely satisfying to be an entrepreneur and to bear the risks that come with it. There is a big difference between being entrepreneurial and being an entrepreneur.”

What are your ambitions?

“Tulpfietsen has been in existence for over 5 years now and 50% of the revenues come from abroad. This part will grow further. We also sell through and and my ambition is to further expand Tulpfietsen/Tulip Bikes.”

What role did Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management play in your life and how did it influence your career?

“Your time as a student is what forms you. You learn how to think, become independent, make friends for life. The courses I took did not have that big of an influence on my career, but like I mentioned before, the theories that Ted Kumpe discussed I can now apply in my field of business.”

Is Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still a part of your life, if yes, in what way?

“During my studies I joined the fraternity ‘A One’ of student association St. Olof and I am still in touch regularly with my fellow fraternity members of those days. I am also a member of ‘Vrienden van Cobbenhagen’ and I frequently attend their meetings. The subjects are interesting and sometimes it is good to expand your view and broaden your mind.”