Dietrich Moens : From Finance to entrepreneurship, the Story of a Spacehunter

After several years as a financial professional, Dietrich felt it was time to give a different turn to his career and to allow his creativity and ideas to pave the way to a whole new world of enriching opportunities. It was precisely at that point in time that he felt that Solvay Executive MBA would have been the right partner to prepare him for rich and new adventures!

“Another key asset of Solvay Executive MBA that keeps fascinating me is the quality and atmosphere amongst my fellow students. “

Who are you and what is your current job and position ?

I am Dietrich, a Belgian national with a background in project finance and investment management. I studied Real Estate Investments and Finance at the University of Glasgow (Scotland) and am a CFA charter holder since 2016. My professional experience mainly focused on due diligence, structuring of debt and equity investments and project finance for large real estate and PPP transactions. Meaning I basically spend the day building and reviewing complex financial models and negotiating investment packages. Today on the other hand, I have the chance to have my days packed with visiting the most unique spaces and meeting the most interesting and creative people.

Which were the main fears that you had and obstacles that you encountered in launching your project?

I think like everyone considering to take the entrepreneurial step, leaving your full time job and diving into the unknown feels like a shivering idea at first. However, after considering it carefully and thanks to the support of some good friends and family, I followed my instinct – rather then my brain – and allowed myself to embark on this exciting “experiment”.

Could you please explain the genesis of your entrepreneurial project, as well as describe the project itself and the key moments of its development ?

A summer evening we (my now business partner and I) were discussing our previous professional experience and how dreadful it is to spend a day or even an hour, in traditional tired hotel and business centre meeting rooms. This feeling was particularly true, especially considering the huge variety of great, inspiring alternative spaces that could be used on such occasions: we thought, how about hosting a corporate debate in a boxing ring, a press conference in an old (and empty) swimming pool, a product launch in an airplane, etc…? It’s here that we realised there was a real need for a centralised platform (much like AirBnB), where people could find the most unique and out of the box spaces to host their professional meetings and events!

Why did you choose Solvay Executive MBA to accompany you in your transition

Along with realizing I wanted to get out of finance and reorient my career into entrepreneurship, I also became more and more aware of the fact that I lacked a whole set of key skills, such as marketing, project management, strategy to name but a few, to transform my idea into a successful achievement. Most importantly, I actually had no clue whatsoever of what entrepreneurship was and how to go about it… After doing some extensive research, I figured an MBA programme, from a top tier Institution, was going to be the most effective way to acquire these skills and reach my goal.

I researched pretty much every reputable program in Europe and ended up with a short list of 2 that really fitted my entrepreneurial ambitions. Solvay Executive MBA was one of them. Taking it all together – proximity of network, programme focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, international study trips opportunities, but also scheduling mode, tuition fees and scholarships schemes available – I decided Solvay was going to be my best bet if I wanted to make Spacehuntr a success and properly equip myself for any other entrepreneurial venture I might take on in the future.

“Go for it! And the earlier you do it, the better !”

What was the “Wow moment” that you might have had during the whole process that led to the creation of Spacehuntr. The moment where you felt that your idea was becoming more and a more a successful achievement.

Based on the recommendations of Prof. Ant Bozkaya from Global Entrepreneurship course, we are now following a lean startup approach. Meaning we frequently have “wow” or “aha” moments, as we continue to adapt and improve our product. However, one of the first real wow moments was soon after our first MBA class with US Prof. Bob Marx, where we were encouraged to take on challenges.

“Alpha company” at the Web Summit (largest tech conference), and have an exhibiting booth there. Despite being very early stage at that time – we did not even have an MVP at that moment – we were selected as “Alpha company” and were granted an exhibiting booth. The feedback we got at this event from other entrepreneurs, investors and media was so positive that it really gave us a massive confidence and energy boost!

How is your MBA helping you in your project? Which are the main impacts that your MBA is having on your project?

Apart from providing real practical tools and insights, Solvay MBA professors and coaches offered in a way a kind of consulting advice as their feedback on the assignments, as well as during class discussions and the coaching sessions, translated into directly actionable new concepts that I could apply to my startup.

Another key asset of Solvay Executive MBA that keeps fascinating me is the quality and atmosphere amongst my fellow students. Apart from being the first customers of Spacehuntr, they are also a great sparring partner to test new ideas and receive honest feedback.

Moreover, the overall Solvay network is also a tremendous resource for any aspiring entrepreneur. I remember e.g. the marketing Professor passing me one of her personal contacts, who has now become actively involved in Spacehuntr.

Interestingly enough, people around me and myself alike have also found the MBA to have a major positive impact on my personality in general. Since the MBA, I am much more curious and excited to welcome the new and the unknown while looking for inspiring opportunities.

Which were the main fears that you had and obstacles that you encountered in launching your project?

I think like everyone considering to take the entrepreneurial step, leaving your full time job and diving into the unknown feels like a shivering idea at first. However, after considering it carefully and thanks to the support of some good friends and family, I followed my instinct – rather then my brain – and allowed myself to embark on this exciting “experiment”.

At which stage of your project cycle are you at the moment? Which are the next steps?

We have tested our product on the market and confirmed its viability. We will now seek to scale in terms of geographical coverage and strive to establish a clear brand value – the leading platform for truly unique spaces.

Additionally, we are working on Spacehuntr 2.0, which will boost many more features and should be ready to go live around fall this year.

Which are the first learnings that you can share with other young or to-be-entrepreneurs willing to launch their own entrepreneurial projects?

I can only say that for me, up until now, it was completely worth it and I really recommend taking the leap to anyone seeking to establish their own company.

I am also convinced that when you are doing the MBA whilst launching your startup, you are putting yourself and the company ahead of peers, as you are learning the latest concepts and insights and are surrounded by some of the most amazing minds that will push you only higher and make you fly even faster

Do you have any advice for people who wants to start an MBA?

In this light it is also maybe interesting to share a lesson that I wish I knew earlier, which is basically “start before you are ready”, enroll in the Solvay EMBA, trust yourself and others and you will be amazed by the results.

Which were the main fears that you had and obstacles that you encountered in launching your project?

I think like everyone considering to take the entrepreneurial step, leaving your full time job and diving into the unknown feels like a shivering idea at first. However, after considering it carefully and thanks to the support of some good friends and family, I followed my instinct – rather then my brain – and allowed myself to embark on this exciting “experiment”.

Which are the first learnings that you can share with other young or to-be-entrepreneurs willing to launch their own entrepreneurial projects?

I can only say that for me, up until now, it was completely worth it and I really recommend taking the leap to anyone seeking to establish their own company.

I am also convinced that when you are doing the MBA whilst launching your startup, you are putting yourself and the company ahead of peers, as you are learning the latest concepts and insights and are surrounded by some of the most amazing minds that will push you only higher and make you fly even faster

Do you have any advice for people who wants to start an MBA?

In this light it is also maybe interesting to share a lesson that I wish I knew earlier, which is basically “start before you are ready”, enroll in the Solvay EMBA, trust yourself and others and you will be amazed by the results.

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