What would be your two-minute elevator pitch?
Dzerostudio Architectes is an architecture bureau set on becoming a player in the energy transition, according to several “modus operandi”. First, by integrating concepts of circular economy into our projects: modularity, dismantling, supply of reusable or bio-based materials, upcycling, reversibility, transversality, and so on. Second, by integrating the economy of functionality into our “business model”, by offering support to project owners not only from the very get-go but also throughout the duration of their projects.
We won circulareconomy.brussels’ Be Circular award in 2017 with our Tomato Chili project, a new concept of modular greenhouses made of wood from the building waste recovery network and made available through the principles of functional economy. We won another award a year later with Be-Module Inside, an innovative concept for the provision of workspaces in existing buildings. These spaces are designed and built according to the principles of the circular economy and are marketed again via the functional economy. The circular economy is, in our opinion, an opportunity to reconcile the environment with the economy so that price is no longer the only criterion. Our desire to integrate the concept of well-being into our projects is also a proof of our commitment to transitioning to a more sustainable world.
List three factors that make Brussels’ entrepreneurship landscape unique.
- Brussels is open and penetrable by pioneering projects, precursors and innovators.
- This flexibility is also linked to another specific factor: its characteristic diversity. Brussels is a very varied business incubator, grouping together companies of different sizes which come together and share their know-how in the city’s established clusters.
- Finally, Brussels’ entrepreneurial community is showing great cognitive abilities, which is a result of the multiple interactions between its structures, both public (cabinets, public bodies) and private (clusters).
The circular economy is, in our opinion, an opportunity to reconcile the environment with the economy so that price is no longer the only criterion.
What are the three biggest challenges you faced when starting up your business?
Starting a business means facing a whole series of challenges – and some have been more challenging than others.
- Understanding the overall spectrum of different decision-making powers is difficult, as is dealing with the inherent administrative burden.
- The financial aspect – the lifeblood – tends to take up too much place and importance, in lieu of the social or sustainable.
- Inciting empathy from the players in our sector is a real challenge. The various trade bodies often make the habit of fixating on their personal responsibilities and work, and don’t take the time nor energy to understand other’s work and its respective conditions, fears and difficulties
How did you benefit from hub.brussels’ expertise in the conception of your business?
hub.brussels’ expertise and support have been decisive at many levels. Thanks to Brussels Invest & Export’s consultancy and follow-up services, we were able to optimise starting up our activities in Brussels, in the best possible conditions. hub.brussels also put us in touch with fellow players in the ecobuild.brussels cluster, which allowed us to familiarise with the market and meet other actors specific to our sector. We were even able to introduce our own Circlemade cluster, of which we are part of its strategic committee. This has allowed us to go even further in the circular economy and benefit from its multi-sectorality.
List three pieces of advice you would give to the budding entrepreneur.
- An entrepreneur looking to set up in Brussels should pay attention to the relevance of their offer, which must be different and sustainable.
- Creating a rich and varied network is also crucial. In this respect, there are plenty of networking sessions organised by Brussels’ entrepreneurial landscape’s different organisations.
- Last but not least, it’s important to know that breaking into a market requires a lot of energy. Make sure you’re prepared, and find ways to channel, save and regenerate it.