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Margot Hermans & Iris Delafortry

dunden

Margot Hermans and Iris Delafortry are the managing partners of the startup hub Dunden, focused on social impact, e-health, new technology and innovation. It’s located in the heart of Antwerp and offers space where people can connect, utilize meeting rooms, event locations and equipment like podcast material.

MARGOT HERMANS

What do people need to know about you?

I can google very well! I’ve done a lot of different jobs in the last ten years. I studied architecture and cultural management, worked in ticketing, communication, city marketing, project manager and as a community manager. I used to organise music and art events. There’s literally nothing you can’t find a tutorial for on Google. All those past experiences also really help with our challenges and obstacles at Dunden 🙂.

Imagine your house catching fire. Apart from loved ones and pets, what else would you want to save and why?

I think about that a lot actually! I live 5 minutes from Dunden, every time I hear a fire truck … I'm praying: please, not the office! Dunden does feel like my home sometimes. At home I would save all the analogue pictures & polaroids and our paintings. I just bought a new one from Bart Dijckmans, one of our locals who held his first expo here in our secret art club, a sideproject of our community manager Marijke.

What gives you energy on a really dark day?

I've learned over the years that today ends and tomorrow is a different day, which helps. Fixing problems, kickstarting a new project and watching people enjoying something I've build give me a lot of energy. I am currently very excited about the rug business that I am starting with artist Winnie Claessens, the progress I'm making with my website HALF/TIJDS (part-time job platform), seeing the progress and enthousiasm at Dunden and my new dog Zaki, who I just adopted.

If you knew that in one year you would die, what would you change about the way you are living and why?

I think I would stop working and travel more. My family is scattered over the world, from Hong Kong to New York to Tunesia so I don't see them enough. I would also make sure that I hang out with my friends a bit more. The last few years working on Dunden have been very rewarding but also very intense and all-consuming.

IRIS DELAFORTRY

What is your most remarkable sensory memory? Like a food memory, music memory?

I have many strong memories. When I was 11 years old, I once visited a friend whose mom had a respiratory machine. That specific smell brought me back immediately to my childhood, because I had to use the same machine for a long time when I was little, which I had forgotten completely. Another one is the smell of the Ardennes, which brings me back to scout camps during summer, where the scent of pines is combined with that of the fresh open air and the smell of the morning dew. I also remember walking down the streets in Thailand: the open air traffic, the street food, the rubbish on the streets... all those scents mixed up together, make a very unique blend.

What do you value most in a friendship?

Mutual respect and trust is the base of a good friendship. Being able to tell each other everything, to trust them, listen and be there for each other. Some people don’t know what to do or say if a good friend is having a hard time for a long period. But they are just friends who need your presence, you don't need to solve their issues, just process them with them. I try to do that at least. And I am happy my friends do the same. There are no bad meetings or life crisisses that we can’t get processed together.

What gives you energy on a really dark day or when all things go wrong?

If things go wrong, I try to not to let them influence my entire day, I just try to stay positive. Because life is like a rollercoaster anyway. Sometimes up, sometimes down. It doesn't help to stress about things that went wrong. But if something stressful is coming up, I have my solutions. Dancing and singing always gets me in a good mood. Walking or playing with my dog can really cheer me up. And what really helps me to get energetic again is going out and meeting friends for a drink. And, I know it’s a hype, I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but I love to play padel!

What gives you satisfaction as an entrepreneur?

That I can make my own decisions, finish a project from the beginning till the end, while at the same time exploring new ideas. I love having personal contact with all kinds of people from different organisations, like funds, companies, partners and governmental organisations. It gives me a lot of energy to listen to people, match them with the right person or company and to be able to help them out! Sharing knowledge and experiences can be very valuable, which I also try to do when teaching or residing in a school jury. I'm also happy with my supporting role in innovative initiatives, like the NFT project of Thomas, Never Forget, which is a mix between technology, creativity and innovation, where we explore blockchain opportunities.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

One of the things that has changed a lot since I was 18 years old, is my relationship with my family. I am very grateful that it’s way better now. I am older now, more mature and calmer. I am less insecure and more confident in who I am, which affects every type of relationship, with friends, at work, with family, ... And those are the things that I'm most grateful of, the people around me.

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