Dieter De Mesmaeker
Vlerick Business School
Co-Founder of DataCamp
Hometown: Londerzeel, Belgium
Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived for 6 months in Santiago de Chile without speaking or understanding any Spanish.
Undergraduate School and Major / Degree programme: KULeuven – Software Engineering
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your life so far: Being able to create the DataCamp team, which consists of the smartest and talented people I’ve ever encountered. Being able to learn from them is one of the most motivating aspects for me.
Was Entrepreneurship always your career goal? I don’t believe that Entrepreneurship, in and of itself, makes for a good career goal. I wanted to spend my time solving a problem in society that I’m passionate about.
For me personally, I always knew that I loved building things, ever since I got my first LEGO set as a child. Nothing beats the experience of creating a cool new product and seeing users interact with it for the first time.
What led you to pursue a MiM at this point in your personal development? My background was very technical and I was looking to broaden my horizons. I had no experience whatsoever in economics, psychology, management, etc. Additionally, before the MiM, most of the people I interacted with were fellow engineering students. Thus, I really looked forward to learning from people with different backgrounds.
How did you decide if a MiM was worth the investment? Living in Belgium where the yearly tuition for most universities is ~€1000, means that people aren’t used to paying the real cost of higher education. The tuition of the MiM from Vlerick was a magnitude higher, but I think people underestimate that the real cost is your opportunity cost from a year studying vs working. For me, given where I was in my personal development, this was a no-brainer. In hindsight, I’m very glad I did, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have met my co-founders!
What other MiM programs did you apply to? How did you determine your fit at various schools? Vlerick is hands-down the best school in my region so I didn’t bother applying to others.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this Masters in Management and why was it so important to you? We had a few guest lectures by Vlerick professors in my senior year, which showed me the quality of the content and professors. They were down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and great storytellers. I also met some of the students who were enrolled in the year before me and spoke very highly of their peers and network.
Tell me about your venture: I’m one of the co-founders of DataCamp. Our mission is to democratize data science education in the world. We teach people how they can use tools like Python, R, SQL, Excel, Tableau, PowerBI, etc to do a whole range of things with data. Our content starts with the basics on how to import, manipulate, and visualize data. Later on, the more advanced courses show how to use machine learning, deep learning, advanced statistics, etc. To date, our platform is used by over 6.5 million users and thousands of businesses to become more data fluent.
How has your business school experience helped you in creating and launching your business? Thanks to Vlerick I got introduced to my fellow co-founders. This is arguably the hardest and most important part of creating a new business, so I’m very grateful.
What activities/experiences have most benefitted you on your entrepreneurship journey during your time at business school? In hindsight, I think I learned the most from my fellow students. Vlerick does a great job of making sure every class consists of highly capable students coming from diverse backgrounds. I still keep in touch with a bunch of them, even after graduating for 7 years.
What quality best describes the MiM classmates you’ve met so far and why? Raw intelligence. I was very impressed by the quality of my peers and their experiences. Having insightful discussions both inside and outside the classroom is where the real value lies.
What is the biggest/most important lesson you have learned during your studies? The importance of surrounding yourself with smarter people.
What are the next steps for you / your entrepreneurial venture? Given the current pandemic, there’s a huge opportunity for companies like DataCamp that look to revolutionize the way we learn a skill like data science. I’m really excited to see what the future holds and how our market will change.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Doing what I like the most; building cool things.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE MIM ENTREPRENEURS OF 2020