How Craftpack turns adversity into good business

In normal times, the core business of Vlerick alumnus Hans De Smedt (Masters in Marketing Management 2001) is the ‘EverPresent Events’ event agency, which specialises in organising unforgettable events and brand activation around a unique client experience. However, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns brought the events sector to a stand-still in 2020.

But adversity clearly stimulates Hans’ creativity. He thought that EverPresent’s corporate clients and prospects could use nice gift packages for virtual meetings or to say thank you to their employees and clients for their support in this exceptional period. Which turned out to be a great idea.

Bouncing back from COVID

“We quickly turned from almost no work to lots of work,” Hans says. “From the beginning, we focused on local products, and, in order to sell our services even better, we decided to create a new concept and brand: Craftpack!”

Craftpack offers gift packages comprised entirely of local products. As sustainability is a primary goal, the company has created beautiful reusable presentation boxes and collaborates with local entrepreneurs who take care of our planet as well. Moreover, for each package that is sold, €1 is donated to 4BRAIN.eu, a non-profit organisation supporting scientific brain research. Sustainability, buying local, and a good cause – a 100% Belgian concept!

Much more than an activity to make up lost revenue in the COVID period, Hans is having a lot of fun with Craftpack and now thinks it should stay in operation when EverPresent gets back up to speed.

Finding my professional direction

Hans De Smedt: “When I started at Vlerick, I didn’t really feel ready for the business world. As the Vlerick programme presents so many different case studies, and you meet so many different people from a variety of companies, I felt it would definitely help me prepare for business life. In addition, I felt I had a marketing profile, so I wanted to professionalise my marketing skills. Vlerick indeed extended my view on business, and it also gave me my first job (in a company that had been one of the cases). So, already the year was a success!”

“In addition, and this was a surprising, but valuable, learning for me: I discovered that I didn’t want to do marketing full-time. I love marketing, but I don’t want to focus on it every day. After a couple of years, I moved into the events sector. Still, my Vlerick programme was perfect for me. I’m now a supplier to many of my former co-participants. And my Vlerick marketing studies have positioned me to think along with them and support their goals, because I know how they think and what their aims are.”

Entrepreneurship starts with doing

“I saw a lot of drive, charisma and self-confidence in my colleagues. I was just starting out at that time (2001), and I watched my co-participants model entrepreneurship skills for me. I learned that you have to believe in yourself and go for it. In fact, entrepreneurship is not that difficult – it starts with believing in yourself and doing, getting things done. And these are the attributes I transferred to the events business. Looking at my businesses today in this COVID period, I find that I see opportunities where other people see problems. My Vlerick programme gave me just the right injection of qualities – an entrepreneurship ‘vaccine’ – for my career.”

As actions speak louder than words, Vlerick Business School supports its alumni / entrepreneurs. In the fall of 2020, over 500 of our executive education participants thus received a Craftpack gift package.

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