Essam Jansen and Alex Hes are at the helm of E&A Events, the global event organization originated in Amsterdam that now has expanded to Asia, India, South America, across Europe and beyond. The two visionaries are behind the brands Don’t Let Daddy Know, Tik Tak and more, and power a handful of events that attract world-class artists either through a solo-performance or multi-stage production.
Aside from producing successful events and operating a company that has expanded ever so rapidly, Essam and Alex not only share the success of E&A but their insight on success in life outside the music industry as entrepreneurs – what motivates them, what has powered their success and how their passion is so evident in their work. Head on past the break for our conversation with the two masterminds from their hometown in Amsterdam.
How did the two of you meet and how did E&A Events come alive?
Essam: We met at school, I think we were 10 year old. Later, we had the same class in high school. Then we started a friendship because we saw each other every day in school, football, tennis, whatever.
Alex: We were really close friends and then at 18 or 19, it became a dream of ours to organize and host a big event. We started with a small event, called SMELT, which was just a party for our fellow students. It was a big success. It’s where it all started.
Essam: And then we talked to each other and said, “If we want to do this our whole lives, we need to come up with big things and not just small parties.” So we came up with some brands and started to organize bigger events and that’s the story behind it.
You two are the visionaries behind it, the two who put it all together. How big is your team now?
Alex: There are about ten in our office, but, most of the work we do ourselves. We’re still young and we want to do it.
Essam: We work with a lot of freelancers. We have more people working for us but they’re not always in the office officially. We have a lot of marketing people and production people, we well as local promoters. So if we go to Asia, we’ll work with promoters over there who will handle the marketing and we just send out team to make sure everything is in the right place.
What sacrifices did it take — life or business wise — to get to where you are today?
Alex: You have to work everyday if you want to achieve something. 24/7 you have to be really busy with what you want to do. Sometimes that means that you don’t really have a lot of time for private things but that’s what you need to do to achieve something.
Essam: We love the business we do so it doesn’t really feel like work.
So, if it goes 50 – 60 hours, it’s what drives you.
Essam: Exactly. We love what we do and we make people happy with our events. It’s the most beautiful thing we could do. To see all the social media posts the day after a successful event is awesome.
From a business standpoint, as far as E&A goes, how do you keep on edge all the time? Whether it’s a vision for a new brand, the direction of an event, how does it go from concept to execution?
Alex: It’s many things. To create a concept, it’s a feeling that takes a lot of time and to execute it, a lot of it is timing. It’s got to be the right time. It has to be there right place at the right date. We created Project Music Festival two years ago and we’re launching it now because it’s the right time. We play the long game and don’t think short term which is why we create brands.
Essam: We see people happy and it’s awesome. We’ve done a lot of shows in the past and now we go to so many different countries with different cultures. It’s totally different for us, but it’s so cool.
From an entrepreneurial standpoint, how have you applied a global vision to E&A? You’ve taken E&A to Hong Kong, Santiago, and Istanbul. Where do you see E&A going next and how have you applied a global vision in such a short time?
Alex: We want to organize events in every country in the world. It’s what we want. Including the U.S., it’s a totally different market which is why we’re waiting for the right chance to take our brands there.
Essam: We started in Ibiza and we have an international audience over there. We started a big campaign. We’re now doing events in Chile and Belgium and looking toward the rest of the world. It’s a franchise concept. We sell it to local promoters but we’re still very much behind the event. We give them our whole team, our whole package so what they need to do gets done.
In a recent interview, you mentioned that “focusing on your dreams is important.” What helps you keep focus on our visions in dreams during your busy life?
Alex: I think you just have to love what you do. We stay normal. In our opinion, if we make people happy, then we love what we do.
Essam: It’s not like after an event you feel like you’re the king of the world. But we do feel good about ourselves. The first event at Kingsland, we had 25,000 people. That was four years ago, and to have that many people at your first festival, it’s incredible. And the feeling you get after it is amazing.
How did you feel after the first festival?
Essam: We had a lot of adrenaline. We were chasing our dreams.
What is something that you’ve always wanted to broadcast to the world but didn’t have the outlet for?
Alex: I just want everybody in the world who loves dance music to love our brands and to come to our events everywhere. I think about the time I saw Michael Jackson and I want everybody in the world who comes to our events to think about the day they were there.