Just because you’re a college student, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start your own business while also hitting the books.

Take a look at Rip Van Wafels a snack company known for their stroopwafels, a crispy, caramel-filled waffle cookie from the Netherlands. Back in 2010, co-founders Rip Pruisken and Marco De Leon were undergrads at Brown University with a dream: to bring the Dutch cookie to  American consumers.

We spoke to Pruisken about his journey to success and how college students can become entrepreneurs.

“We started very humbly, as an experiment where I basically made 300 stroopwafels late into the night after kind of getting the recipe right,” Pruisken said. “We did this bake sale and as kids were coming out of class, I just said ‘You know what, it’s a dollar a piece,’ just to see if people would buy it. They did, so I sold out very quickly.”

Photo courtesy of Rip Van Wafels.

Pruisken, now 31, hails from Amsterdam, where he gained an affinity for stroopwafels. Once his stroopwafel recipe was perfected, he began taking the necessary steps to begin packaging and selling his product in stores on Brown’s campus and beyond.

“The next step was to produce more so we built a machine with our engineering professor and we could produce a couple of hundred units an hour,” Pruisken said.

Rip Van Wafels was able to expand from sales in college cafes to being stocked by major coffee shops, convenience stores, and various businesses across the country.

The co-founders of Rip Van Wafels. Courtesy of Rip Pruisken.

Today, Pruisken prides his company on being able to provide consumers with a healthier alternative to other nationwide cookie brands. Fans of Rip Van Wafels can find various flavors of stroopwafels including birthday cake, cookies & cream, and snickerdoodle available for purchase on their website. Rip Van Wafels caters to a wide array of diets as well, offering low sugar, keto, gluten free, and vegan options.

The company's new wafers, available in dark chocolate and hazelnut flavors, are low sugar, vegan, and keto-friendly. The product features chocolate cream sandwiched in between three crispy wafers. Whether you spot them at Starbucks, pick up a pack at Peet’s Coffee, or come by some at CVS, it’s no question that the company’s signature stroopwafels have become iconic across the country. 

Pruisken cites his vision and discipline as the two factors that made him a successful young entrepreneur.

“If you have the discipline which is really hard, and you have a vision, eventually you’ll get somewhere,” Pruisken said. “Especially if you're starting with limited capital, you are the investment, literally, the amount of time you're spending on the business is the investment you're making in growing that business.”