The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Dries Bols

Dries Bols

Founder and CEO, Lifepower

Can you describe what you do?

I’m the founder and current CEO of Belgian start-up company LifePower, where we design and build the next generation of consumer energy and mobility products. People often refer to us as the Belgian Tesla. I laid the foundations for the company in 2013, right after graduating from the University of Antwerp. Around that time I was running several other projects in the event and music business. You could say entrepreneurship is in my blood. After running things mostly on my own during the first years, I now managed to gather a small team around me. Our headquarters are located in the Boerentoren – talk about an office with a view. My daily routine revolves around getting as much done as possible. Therefore I try to live as lean as possible. Early mornings call for early nights. This all sounds like a lot of ‘work’ but I strongly believe in the work/life balance. Office life and travel. Luckily we design the ultimate products to make the adaptation of this lifestyle possible! I live in the Antwerp South area, which is also where I was raised. It’s one of the cosiest neighbourhoods in my opinion. Beautiful architecture, always lively and lots of creative people; yet never too busy or crowded in any way, and it’s close to everywhere I need to be.

How do you perceive Antwerp?

I perceive Antwerp as a village within a city. It has all the aspects of a city, but the vibes of a smaller community. Antwerp might not be included in the list of biggest cities in the world but is certainly a worldly city. I enjoy working in and visiting many other cities around the globe, but none of those attract me enough to really “live” there. To round it up: Antwerp has all the perks of a city, but none of the drawbacks.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?

You can easily meet and befriend people. Antwerp is a good place for young entrepreneurs to get in touch with like-minded people, gain knowledge and grow their network. Even though Antwerp isn’t huge, it bubbles with energy. More and more creative people feel empowered to carry out their ideas. It’s almost contagious. People are also encouraged by the city itself. You can for instance pitch your ideas to Start it @KBC or any of the other incubators to gain access to a group of likeminded people, office spaces and mentorships, for free.

How would you say Antwerp has contributed to making you who you are today?

Antwerp has definitely been a stable and safe environment to grow up in and explore life. I am very aware that others, being born and raised in other places of the world, might have had a completely different outcome, although the rise of the internet might limit these differences and connect people from all over the world in earlier stages in life. I greatly appreciate that people here are open-minded and progressive overall. This matches my mindset, or did it shape mine?! Either way, this collective consciousness contributes to an exponential growth in creative, young people choosing to follow their dreams and share their ideas. We live in a country where we have the chance to do this, so we should definitely grab these opportunities by the horns! I was about 18 when I first realised this and started doing things my way. I started having all these crazy and ambitious ideas and figured, “I don’t have time to work for a boss, I probably won’t even have the time to realise all the things I want to do, so why should I?”

Antwerp has all the perks of a city, but none of the drawbacks.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more in the city?

Electric transportation systems and charging infrastructure, Ford Mustangs, parking spots for campervans. Beaches with swelling waves. My girlfriend.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? How would you guide tourists around?

A few years ago I would’ve had a bunch of answers to this one, but truth be told, I don’t get to visit my own city that much anymore these days. I’m even surprised when I see new roadworks and buildings that weren’t there last time I passed by. So please tell me, what should I definitely go and check out?

Local legend?

Wessel di Wesseli. I met him for the first time when I was around 16-17 years old, in de Hoogstraat, where he asked me this highly valuable question: “What is energy?” A subject that proved to be very relevant in the following years.

LifePower.be
Photography Joke De Wilde