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Marcel Clerx

Entrepreneur and investor Marcel Clerx graduated in 1992 in business. After a few years working as a consultant, he started Acceleration, a business development company.

"When technology and commerce join forces something beautiful is created."

Why did you choose to study in Tilburg?

"In high school I always had an interest in why people buy things, so business seemed like an interesting study. I looked at Rotterdam and Tilburg, but the compact campus in Tilburg made me feel right at home."

Who was your favorite professor and why?
"Two professors taught me most. Professor Vianen, whom I am still in contact with, taught economics of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). A very practical course in which issues that entrepreneurs face every day were discussed. This is probably where I got the desire to become an entrepreneur. Professor Ted Kumpe, who taught technical business, was active within Philips and lectured about the rise of the Japanese technology economy. He opened my eyes to the world economy and got me interested in Asia."

Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student times?
"I especially remember the valuable friendships I made during my student days. Also because you have so much free time. The study was very complex but obtaining good grades was never a problem for me. The time you have available can either be useful or you can simply waste it on nights out. Fortunately, my fellow housemates at the Wagnerplein in Tilburg-North were the entrepreneurial types. We got a good egg roll at the mall and then the ideas sprouted. Through the study association (Marketing Association), I became involved in a study tour to Japan and met my business partner, Sjef van Kemenade. Twenty years later we still do business!"

What has your career been like?
"At the time, I did not have the courage to start my own business from scratch, so I joined consultancy Kock & Partners. Since 1999, I’ve been co-owner and later became director. In consultancy, you work on a project and try to solve a particular issue. That’s what we do investing in companies since we started Acceleration in 2004. Sometimes part of a business must be sold because it has grown too much, and other times a large investment is needed to facilitate growth. It is always about making the company stronger. Our guiding principle is that, we as commercial and financial specialists, add something to technically oriented companies. When technology and commerce join forces something beautiful is created."

What is your future ambition?
"Besides further developing the companies we invest in, I’d like to have time for science again. I enjoyed studying at TiasNimbas, the Business School at Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology. After completing the Master in Real Estate in 2009, I’ve started research program on spatial economic issues and hope to receive my doctorate. This also fits in well with the Tilburg Innovation Center (TIC), a collaboration between the municipality, the university and growing entrepreneurs, which we took the initiative to establish."

What role has Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management played in your life and how has it influenced your career?
"In this environment with study and student associations, in this atmosphere of jointly undertaking, in the network at the university, I learned to work together. The Brabant mentality is unique, and I hope that it never changes for Tilburg University."

Does Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still play a role in your life? If so, what role?

"I have a strong bond with Tilburg University and am still involved in various ways with the university. Via the Tilburg Innovation Center and as a member of the advisory board of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise, a student organization whose objectives are to help others help themselves, for example by encouraging entrepreneurship among the disadvantaged.) I am also a member of Friends of Cobbenhagen, and a member of the alumni association ‘Meesters in Marketing’. Once in a while, I also provide guest lectures and master classes."