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WESLEY DOS SANTOS, ENTREPRENEUR & SPEAKER

The youngest entrepreneur in 'De Kruiwagen Van…' so far: Wesley dos Santos. A selfmade Dutch entrepreneur with Cape Verdean roots who already has a number of entrepreneurial awards to his name. At the age of 12, Wesley started selling downloaded music and software to his peers. Nowadays, the 30-year-old has a water recreation company together with his partner Harrison dos Santos with, among other things, the Schiller Waterbikes, he participates in MASTERS EXPO in November, Wesley speaks at seminars and he wrote his first book 'Entrepreneurship as a Boss'. '. In short, enough for MASTERS EXPO to wonder: who was Wesley's wheelbarrow? Text: Mical Joseph
Image: Antim Wijnaendts Van Resandt

What was your very first job?

“My very first job was at Feyenoord, because I played for the youth team for eleven years from the age of six to seventeen. In recent years, in addition to playing football, I had a part-time job as a service employee. I sold the tickets and controlled traffic during matches. How did this come about? I used to want nice things and my parents were like: 'If you want certain things, you have to work for them.' So I did.

How did you end up in your current job?

“I have been curious since I was little guy and I possessed certain enterprising ones skills. My parents are Cape Verdean migrants and are not entrepreneurs. My father was a truck driver and my mother was a production worker. However, they always gave me freedom in my choices. At the age of twenty I started studying Business Administration and I also loved looking good. I had bought new sneakers again and always looked at the label in the shoe, it often said 'Made in Portugal'. This made me curious: 'What is there that I don't know?' and 'Maybe I can release my own sneaker brand?'. I flew to Portugal, spoke to manufacturers, spoke to people who knew the trade and that's how I released my first collection under the brand name Diversité.

After studying Business Administration, I worked at the UWV as a Work Advisor and spoke to people who were looking for a new job. I got the feeling that the person sitting across from me did not match the resume. The document must correspond to the character and personality. I saw opportunities again: people had talents, but these talents did not show up when I saw some CVs. I built the website Uniecv.nl to help people create slick CVs. I sold this company.

In addition to looking at labels and being critical of CVs, there was another specific moment that inspired me to start something new. Five years ago I sailed in a boat with my girlfriend in Alblasserdam, we thought this was so cool that we started our own boat rental company. Last year I founded Aqua Mobility together with my partner Harrison dos Santos.”

Who was your wheelbarrow?

“Google and YouTube. I am self-taught and have really taught myself to get a lot of information from these websites. Of course I also looked around and approached different people if I had certain questions about a subject. All in all, my wheelbarrows are Google, my intuition and the people who support me.”

What is your greatest passion in your profession?

“Creating and making things real. Converting ideas and imaginations that are initially in my head into tangible reality. That makes me happy and gives me energy.”

What has been the biggest learning moment in your career?

“What I have learned so far is that I have to be less gullible. At the beginning I always look at the intention of the person in question and it has sometimes happened that I did not record certain agreements in black and white. This meant that I could quickly be 'used', because I could not demonstrate that matters had indeed been discussed and agreed.”

How did you come up with the idea to write a book?

“In 2019 I won the Aardig Onderweg Award and automatically won a speaking spot at TED Talks. During this talk I mainly talked about the skills I use to set up a business. After this lecture, several people asked when my book would be released, which got me thinking. I bought the book around the same time Heart of a Lion of the footballer Memphis Depay and I saw the publisher.

I took my courage and approached the publisher with my written concept. A week after the meeting I was told that the book was going to become reality and we started the writing process.”

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

“Keep experimenting, be patient and with the right intentions, and you will get there. It is also important that you gather the right people around you at an early age where you can get along with each other uplift."

Have you been a wheelbarrow for someone?

“There are many people who approach me via social media or after seeing my lectures and workshops. I always indicate at the end that no one should be afraid to ask me questions and that I will always answer these questions. I also participate in the Summer Entrepreneur project, where I am one of the coaches. We guided young people who started setting up their own company in the summer. In this project I am opening up my expertise and network to them.”