""IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING!""
Natuurhuisje.nl is an online platform for renting holiday homes in natural surroundings. It was founded in 2009 by the brothers Tim and Luuk van Oerle. Born and raised in Prinsenbeek, a village close to Breda, the brothers’ mission is to maximize impact of biodiversity regeneration. Big ambitions. The company is a product of this intrinsic belief. A means to continually improve the world around us, to make a real impact.
Together, the brothers made regular trips, preferably to isolated places in natural settings to spot and photograph birds in their own habitat. They usually had to travel from their holiday home first. On one of their trips to Extremadura they sighed: ‘what if you could stay in the middle of that nature, where you can spot and photograph birds directly from the comfort of your vacation house?’ "Nature house," Tim said. "Dot NL" said Luuk. And the concept was born.
FROM CONCEPT TO 19,000 HOUSES
After their studies, they started Natuurhuisje.nl with two destinations in the Ardennes, an area of natural beauty, located primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg. The owners offered their houses via the platform, which was built by a student. The brothers received a percentage of the rentals made through the platform.
The concept caught on and domain names were purchased in surrounding countries, including the English language www.nature.house. They professionalized the framework. The demand was high and in no time Natuurhuisje.nl was extremely popular. The company now has more than 40 people who continuously work to renew and improve the platform, in five different languages. They currently offer more than 19,000 houses. The selection is very diverse, with the common denominator: they are set in nature. "We want to bring people close to nature and create awareness with our platform. Every booking includes a contribution to local nature projects. To this end, we work together with the Dutch Forest Service, the Staatsbosbeheer. You can follow its growth on our website.
We hope people will become more conscious of nature by booking houses through us. So that our guests will contribute to preserving nature in the Netherlands, not only by renting through us, but also by adjusting their own behavior."
SUSTAINABLE OFFICE IN BREDA
First established in Tilburg, the company has since moved to a building in Breda’s city centre. Most of the employees already lived there, so that saved travel. Environmentally friendly work practices make perfect sense to the brothers. The building is furnished in a completely sustainable way. That inspires: "There is even an internal marketplace where people offer their excess furniture, clothing and even food."
The company strives to work as ecofriendly as possible. This also presents challenges: a revenue model is essential to achieve your mission and vision. You must make choices and you can't always do the right thing. We are mainly focused on expanded growth. We want to become the world's leading leaser of nature houses.
Why? Very simple; this makes the greatest impact on nature conservation. The office has enough space to receive people. "We want to provide an example for other companies by holding inspiration sessions about commercial success and sustainability. That seems like a contradiction, but they can complement each other very well."
DESIRE FOR NATURE IN DNA
DESIRE FOR NATURE IN DNA
Nature is deeply engrained in Tim van Oerle's DNA. When he was ten, his father bought a piece of land near Galder, a Dutch village near the Belgian border, where he could regularly play. In a notebook he kept at that time—kept in his bedside table to this day—he wrote about the beauty of nature and the pleasure he had in it. And how he wished to inform and inspire others about it.
A study in Wageningen University in Environment, Economy and Policy followed. Combined with a great hobby: Tim is an avid birdwatcher, enjoying observing birds in the wild. His brother Luuk studied finance in Tilburg, and his hobby is nature photography.
MAKING AN IMPACT
The brothers balance each other very well. And are also realistic. With growth they recognize their own limitations and have hired the right people to fill in the gaps in their own knowledge. For example, Tim mainly focuses on inspiration for further development of the company and Luuk is the financial force. The CEO Dick, whose strengths are strategy and vision development, handles the daily business operations. Together with their team, they work toward a single goal: to make an impact on nature conservation. From the realization that it is necessary to make people and companies aware of their roles in climate and biodiversity.
"In addition to maximizing profits, accepting ownership is essential to contribute to the world around us; we cannot just take. Making an impact can be done in so many ways. If you really want to make a difference, it is essential to anchor it in your mission and vision. And then think, and act, accordingly. Take your staff with you. Inspire and develop. In small steps. Then you automatically succeed." "It feels like we're just at the beginning. We are very proud of where we are now, and that inspires us to go further and further. The plans are endless!"
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