Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I think I am actually on my third version of myself. I have graduated in chemistry and when I was done with it I wanted to do chemistry applied to monuments. It ended up not working out and I went into electronic music. I’ve DJ’ed from 1998 until 2014 and also started producing music a bit later, releasing techno and house tracks with German, Portuguese and British labels and played records around Europe. I’ve always been involved with video and photography and decided at certain point to combine all these different experiences into websites.
I’ve worked with an artist for a very long time I went from doing his production, work and installation video and photographs, to making his web shop and website. I really enjoyed doing those and finally found my way and what I am good at.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
Finding what you want to do and really enjoying it, is a good achievement. I’ve done things that I am proud of as a Dj, I’ve played in important European clubs and got good reviews in music magazines. But I always kept on searching what I wanted to do more. To have understood how I could combine things that I can do with a smile on my face… I think I can consider that an achievement.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to keep on tackling projects that require combining more people of different areas. Now at the Collective Workspace Maastricht I am surrounded by people who think very differently from me and have different skills, so I am looking forward to do projects where websites could be very multidisciplinary and significant.
There is this idea that working as freelance gives you a lot of freedom, and that is true, but at the same time you get less opportunities to tackle very big projects, so I am searching for ways on how a single freelancer can work integrated with other people on bigger projects. I look forward to making websites that can be more complex but still managed easily and be fun.
Which advise will you give to other professionals?
It’s important to figure out what do you want to do and how can you make it possible. Sometimes it is scary to jump into doing your our own company. I hear a lot about the cliché of making mistakes and errors, and that falling flat on your face is something good. But it is also very scary. You don’t want to fall flat on your face you want to be successful! I think there is a good measure of balance that you need to take between what your dreams are, how you can implement them and what are the possible obstacles on your way.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
The problem is putting the faces to the names, especially if you are starting up and you do not have a lot of connections yet. In my particular case, because I jumped places so many times, I found important to at least have an understanding of who was who. Not necessarily whom the important players were but to have an understanding of what was the dynamic of the scene. I think it is also important to know that many of these meetings where entrepreneurs get together have a certain informality connected to it, which makes it easier to access than you’d think.
So if you are just starting out, it is important to have a common ground… a common knowledge I would say.
Manuel is the face behind The Concept Catcher.Thanks a lot!