In June 2017 and after a fantastic year studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Business Academy Aarhus, AARHUSMAKERS’ co-founders Dan and Juan starting to develop this dream. 

Everything started with Juan’s passion for arts in general and more specifically a true love for photography, a discipline that he has been practicing since 2004, when he moved to Ireland. 

As a photographer Juan always dreamed of building a sustainable business where creativity and people will be the main assets. 

Building an organization with these characteristics on your own is a constant struggle that requires you to be a website owner, a blogger, a producer, a sales manager, an accountant, a marketer and wear 10 other hats in a regular basis. 

In addition, all the activities required to make a successful business can lead eventually to dilute a passion for creating quality creative work, Juan’s personal pain was the initial premise to found AARHUSMAKERS.

In June 2017 Juan had just finished a thorough research report around Platform Cooperatives, a new movement started in the United States circa 2014, but with strong roots in the traditional Cooperative organisational model that originated in Europe in the late 19th century. What is a Platform Coop? Here is a brief definition:

“A platform cooperative is an employee-owned and operated business that typically runs its operations through a website or mobile app. The platform business model is based on exchange of goods and services between interdependent individuals or groups.” Source: whatis.techtarget.com

There was a certain level of excitement about the idea of implementing a new social business model in Denmark with a layer of technology but that could add a higher degree of participation from the people joining it. 

Denmark is a fertile country to the long tradition of Cooperatives (andelsforeninger og -selskaber) so it seemed to be a good idea to build a venture with the same cooperative values and include the 21st century technological innovations. 

Dan and Juan talked about this possibility as at the time and as part of our studies we had two options: 

  • We could do our internship in a private company 

  • We could start up our own company. 

We’re glad to say that we took the latter option and kicked off a long, laborious and exciting journey that started to show positive results a year later. 

We started to map the city of Aarhus and as part of a photography project Juan was developing (Humans of Aarhus) we got to meet Ole Jorgensen, who was working as Project Leader in Godsbanen at the time. 

During our interview one of the questions we asked about Godsbanen was in regards to the digitalisation of services, it soon became clear there were synergies between our concept and some of the projects Godsbanen wanted to develop. We agreed to come back with a more fine tuned pitch about what we wanted to do moving forward. 

Our original product/prototype was to create a webshop to market artists, designers and artisans to the local community of Aarhus under the platform coop principles described earlier. 

We pitched the idea to Flemming Dybbol and Ole and they loved the community driven project we were trying to build. On behalf of Godsbanen they offered us to support the project and our activities through meeting spaces, social exposure in their networks and resources to run events at Godsbanen facilities. Since then, here is the sequence of projects delivered to date.

  • In August 2017 we held our first informational event, around 20 people attended the meeting.

  • In August 2017 we got an offer to present our project at the Platform Cooperative conference in New York, in November 2017. At the time we barely had an idea and a landing page. 

  • In August and September 2017 we started to raise awareness and receive requests from local makers to know more about our project. We rapidly formed a community of 20 people. 

  • In  October 2017 we held our second informational meeting at Godsbanen. 70 people attended, our legs were trembling, we received a lot of feedback about the project.

  • In November 2017 we presented Aarhus Makers in New York, as a result of the conference we got involved more with the community of people driving this movement and Dan engaged with people heavily involved in the development of Blockchain technologies applied to marketplaces but not only.

  • In late November 2017 our team started to grow, Kate, Emma and Timi joined Aarhus Makers and we decided to run offline events to raise awareness about our makers and start monetising some of the work already done. 

  • In February 2018 we held our first event, a pop up store at BART. Around 300 people visited the event.

  • April 2018. We held a 3rd informational meeting at BART were we talked about our (short) journey as a cultural start up to an audience of 20 people. 

  • In April 2018 we held our first event at Godsbanen, we showcased not only craft but Art in two different areas for a whole day. Around 500 people passed by during the day.

  • In May 2018 we hosted an event to showcase social enterprises at BART, around 30 people attended the event.

  • In July 2018 we held our first event ever in Institut for X, the summer weather helped, we partnered with Pracownia Food Think Tank and Smaek, in order to bring new recipes, cocktails and craft to that side of the city. Around 200 people participated in the event.

  • In August 2018 we partnered with Mad & Marked to run a section of their festival, approximately 2000 people visited the event during the day.

  • The 21st September we partnered with Kooperationen and hosted a talk around the future of work and workers, the event was sold out and around 70 people attended the event.

  • The 1st of October 2018 we launched our website, only to keep iterating and making it more meaningful, we haven’t stopped since then. 

  • In November 2018 we took over LYNfabrikken for a two day event that involved multiple cultural actors from the community of Aarhus, there was poetry slam, electronic music, an art battle, a live painting session and exclusive art exhibited.

  • In December 2018 we got nominated to the Go Glocal Awards, People’s Choice, we got shortlisted within the Top 5 organizations creating impact towards the internationalisation of Aarhus.

  • In December 2018 our friends from Attitude Apoteket started a fruitful collaboration with to help AARHUSMAKERS with their website and visual identity.  

  • In January 2019 we reopened a de-activated space. The END OF THE LINE black box was previously a home to Ovartaci Fields — a satellite museum to house pop-up exhibitions by Museum Ovartaci during the Capital of Culture 2017. In 2019 we expect to have a series of concatenated cultural events with upcoming and established artists to enhance the cultural life of Skejby. This is our biggest endeavour to date, and we couldn’t be more excited for what we have programmed for this year.