Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started as an entrepreneur six years ago. I did my graduation internship at Glasbak, which was owned by someone else at that time. The company already existed for five or six years back then. During my internship the owner suffered from a burn-out. Next to this my graduation was coming closer, I needed a job and had always thought of having my own company. So I went to the banc and borrowed the money to buy Glasbak to see if it would all work out. It was a risk, but it all worked out. Six years ago the company was still in Maastricht and about four years ago I moved it to Heerlen because I saw more opportunities here.
From my experience Heerlen offers more opportunities than Maastricht to do things plus the fact that you expand your network easier. The contact between creative entrepreneurs here is more forthcoming than in Maastricht. When I was only working in Heerlen for a month, I had already met more people than in the two years I spent in Maastricht. Now there are about eight or nine co-working places. Here everything happens more bottom-up while in Maastricht it’s more top-down. I think that is why everything happens faster in Heerlen because who think of initiatives are the people . Also there is more space to do things. Literally. For example at the moment I’m also trying to see if I can work with other real estate to see if I can make a concept for it. Those things work easy and quick here. Also getting in contact with councillors: you get in contact with them through Facebook and ask them to have a coffee with you. It’s all al lot easier and that is why it all works faster. In Heerlen you can meet the alderman on the street.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
The concept thinking. And also sometimes not selling things. I experienced that customers can want things which I just don’t see.
What are you looking forward to?
Recently I started creating concepts that are carried out by others. Now I’m for example working on a website for the University of Maastricht. Next to this I’m designing a new company which makes 360 degrees panoramic pictures together with an other entrepreneur.
In the future I would also like to work with real estate. Not per definition in Glasbak, but I’m thinking about something I also did with the creative corridor. Design a concept and make it work. I’m now working on some concepts for which I need a building. There are a lot of vacancies in Heerlen and I really enjoy thinking about the changes in the inner city of Heerlen and what interpretation to give that. What destination could it get? For me urban development is becoming a more and more interesting subject. I’m more concerned with it, also business oriented. With the creative corridor I don’t make any money. Everything that I gain I directly spend on things like rent and electricity.
Which advice would you give to other professionals?
Don’t go to easy on yourself and make long term goals. A lot of young companies make short term goals; even tough long term is more rewarding. Make a combination in long and short term goals and make sure your company grows and that growth continues. Make plans on where you want to be in five years.
What are the challenges we need to overcome to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
There should be one first point of contact for beginning entrepreneurs. (check Starterscentrum Limburg) The government is not aware of everything that is going on in the creative industry and which places there actually are. There are more co-working spaces. A lot of starters will ask the government about the creative industry. If the government doesn’t know which advice to give then there is no way to begin. An organisation outside of the government should be the first point of contact to redirect starting creatives in the creative industry. They could help with housing, meeting other starters and expanding your network. They could be something like an ambassador for the creative industry. There is budget necessary for that though.