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Breaking boundaries: Bastiaan de Groot's tech entrepreneurship journey


Editor's Note: Bastiaan de Groot, also known as GU Sikun (顾斯鲲) in Chinese, is a 2023 graduate of the Tsinghua-INSEAD Dual Degree EMBA Programme (TIEMBA) who resides in Amsterdam. Over the past decade, his career has focused on the field of intelligent technology. He has served as the global head of strategy for Feilo Sylvania and, during his studies, de Groot became the CEO and co-founder of Ingy, a company specializing in providing software solutions for the lighting industry. In 2020, Ingy was recognized as one of the Top 50 tech startups in the European Union by Proptech House.

Bastiaan de Groot being interviewed

Breaking Innovation Barriers: Pursuing a Journey of Dreams

Bastiaan de Groot had a strong interest in science and new technologies since childhood and dreamed of starting a technology company. After graduating from university, he began working in the field of intelligent technology and specialized in artificial intelligence. In 2012, while working as a consultant at Inzenka, de Groot noticed a distinct difference between himself and his colleagues: he was the only consultant with a pure engineering background. This realization led him to understand that to fulfill his dreams, he would need to supplement his technical expertise with comprehensive business knowledge.

"With a deep understanding of technology, enhancing my business knowledge would bring me closer to my dreams," de Groot said. In June 2015, he joined the international lighting group Feilo Sylvania as its Global Strategy Director. Through the acquisition of Sylvania by a Chinese company, de Groot became aware of the rapid development of the Chinese market and Chinese companies' ambitions to innovate. "It made me realize there is a tipping point in the East-West balance, where we are becoming equals," de Groot said. He was eager to understand the Chinese market and its business environment. TIEMBA provided an excellent opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of both Western business systems and Chinese business models. After thorough consideration, de Groot deemed TIEMBA to be the top global EMBA program that aligned with his career vision. Through the TIEMBA program, he gained a deep understanding of China's business environment and glimpsed its promising future.

Bastiaan de Groot's speech at TEDxLuxembourgCity event

Breaking Growth Boundaries: de Groot's TIEMBA Journey

The TIEMBA program provided crucial assistance to de Groot when establishing Ingy. The program covered key topics such as strategy, human resources, finance, and business negotiations. The diverse knowledge acquired through TIEMBA helped him transition from a corporate executive to the founder of a startup company, and provided guidance and inspiration for his personal career growth and for establishing a solid foundation for Ingy. "The transition from a corporate executive to the founder of a startup company is a profound journey, and the TIEMBA program laid a solid foundation for my successful transformation," de Groot said.

Among the many courses offered by TIEMBA, de Groot shared two which had a tremendous impact on his leadership abilities and personal career development. He regarded the course "Leadership Development Program" as a course that "not only delved deep into personal growth but also provided me with a profound framework for self-reflection and self-awareness. Through this course, I not only mastered methods to enhance leadership skills but also strengthened my inner core stability and pursuit of happiness in life." Another course that left a deep impression on de Groot was "Management Practice Simulation." He described it as follows: "In this course, the teachers simulated scenarios where companies face difficulties, and I had to make the right decisions in extreme circumstances. Throughout the entire process, I experienced immense pressure and challenges. However, by participating in such simulated experiences, I gained a better understanding of the importance of making decisions under pressure and applied these experiences to real-life situations. It enabled me to better handle various challenging situations and make wise decisions."

The diverse curriculum of TIEMBA, which seamlessly integrates Western and Chinese perspectives, helped de Groot to enhance his overall professional competence and personal growth and to develop a deep understanding of China's role in global economic development. While possessing an international outlook, he gained an understanding of the Chinese market. In spite of dramatic changes in the global industrial landscape, de Groot seized the growing demand for sustainability and environmental protection during the last decade. He recognized the differences between the business environments and models in the East and the West and skillfully created lighting solutions that catered to the diverse market needs of different regions. His business grew rapidly.

Bastiaan de Groot's (center of the back row) back-to-school group photo with classmates

TIEMBA not only enriched de Groot's business knowledge but also provided him with a strong network of connections. The combined resources of Tsinghua University and INSEAD, including faculty and alumni, connected him with investors for Ingy and facilitated the expansion of his business into global markets. De Groot, together with his classmates, experienced numerous challenges and difficulties, forming deep bonds during this remarkable journey. They shared joys and successes, and their valuable relationships will accompany him throughout his life.

Group photo of Bastiaan de Groot (right) with classmates at Tsinghua University

Looking back on his experiences in the TIEMBA program, de Groot expressed gratitude. "The program not only provided me with invaluable business knowledge and skills, but, more importantly, it broadened my perspective on the world," he said.

Graduation is not an end, but rather a new beginning. De Groot aims to integrate the spirit of TIEMBA and the knowledge he acquired into his career, and to become an influential entrepreneur who addresses the lighting needs of many. He sincerely thanked the TIEMBA program for everything it has brought him, stating, "TIEMBA is not only an academic journey but also a transformative experience that deeply impacted my life."

Source: EMBA Programs