Joep makes it in Tilburg

Raising 1 million euros for your big dream: Joep van Gorp succeeded and that at the age of 27. Six years ago, the young entrepreneur took the plunge and started developing unique creative projects such as the Aus Berlin festival and the Sofa Sessions. However, the hit comes in May this year with Doloris: a surrealistic art maze and a matching rooftop bar. "We were welcomed with open arms: this could really only start in Tilburg", says Van Gorp.

Even though Joep van Gorp was not born in Tilburg, this is definitely the city where his entrepreneurial spirit took shape. Why? The passionate entrepreneur can be brief about that: "Tilburg is ambitious, you can quickly get to the right people at the right table and... it's just a great city. (laughs) The Brabander came to Tilburg to study at the Rockacademie, but after a few months he quit: he didn't necessarily want to play drums, but he wanted to develop special projects. After having worked for Mundial Productions for a while, in 2012 it was high time for his own cultural agency: Qanvas. With 'developing special experiences full of art, culture and entertainment' as his mission, Van Gorp conjured up crowd-pulling living room concerts, music festivals and even hot tub parties from his hat. All in Tilburg, because yes... "Here you can do all that and everyone wants to."

Iconic places

When Qanvas got off the ground six years ago, Van Gorp already had such a suspicion that this city was 'still waiting for something'. "And in 2019 it all seems to be happening. With the Spoorpark and the LocHal, which will become iconic places for the city, Tilburg is now really going to make its mark. Without hesitation, Van Gorp can also add 'his' Doloris: the long-awaited creative complex that will open its doors on the Spoorlaan in May. Van Gorp got the idea for this in 2012, when he was in Berlin with a couple of friends and, as one of the 40,000 other curious people, visited the art installation Peristal Singum. In his own words, what he experienced here can best be described as a 'trip without drugs'; after staring in front of him for an hour and recovering from the many stimuli, Van Gorp immediately knew: this should be possible in more places in the world.

Timing is key

And more specifically Tilburg. Van Gorp pitched the idea after his return to various stakeholders, year after year without result, until four years ago the tide turned. Van Gorp: "Suddenly everyone thought it was a bold plan. The time had just come. Investors began to see what Tilburg could offer and that the time was ripe to put their shoulders to the wheel. At that moment we were really welcomed with open arms, by both the business community and politicians. That would not have been possible in any other city in the Netherlands." Van Gorp did teach the process an important lesson: business is about timing. "You can make another fat album, if the zeitgeist isn't there, you've lost in advance."

Our city

The broad support that Van Gorp received for his project came in the form of a generous donation of 1 million euros. This amount will give Tilburg an artistic maze where visitors will be challenged, stimulated and surprised by cross-over art. In addition, a unique opportunity arose at the same location: Together with Gijs van der Velden (Cookaholics) and Jaap van Ham (Polly, Café Bakker and Het Ketelhuis), Van Gorp is making one of the largest rooftop bars in the Benelux. Isn't such a grotesque restaurant clapper what 'Ontilburgs'? "Certainly not," says Van Gorp. "Tilburg is undergoing a real change of mentality, especially now. Where in the past you used to hear 'act normal, then you do crazy enough', people are now proud of this city. This is our city and we all do it together', that feeling. A rooftop bar fits that greatness, this is the next step in embracing it."

Network clubs and beers

Van Gorp is very happy with the support and advice he received from a large group of entrepreneurs around him. As far as he is concerned, this is one of the most beautiful aspects of Tilburg as an entrepreneurial city: you quickly build up a network, future-proof projects can take off at an unbelievable pace within a short space of time. "It's often enough to be part of a few network clubs; it's easy to get to know people. Tilburg is truly a city of social enterprise - in a literal sense. Everyone drinks beers together, the threshold is low", says Van Gorp. In addition to fellow entrepreneurs, Van Gorp gets a lot of energy and inspiration from music, art and travel - without the latter, he would never have gotten to know the surrealistic maze concept. 

10 year challenge

At the moment all entrepreneurs in Tilburg can participate in the 10 Year Challenge. It's all about where you see yourself as an entrepreneur in ten years' time. We also asked Joep this question. "If we can run a good first year in Tilburg, I expect that we will make new Doloris complexes in the rest of Europe. In 10 years' time, there should be 10 of them scattered across the continent." But even though Van Gorp wants to spread his professional wings to the rest of the world after the first Doloris, he will always continue to live in Tilburg: "This has really become my city".

The golden tip of Joep

"If you can't have fun in the fun business, you should consider another job".

Doloris & Rooftop

Video's making of - Doloris & Rooftop