Alumni Work: Erik Dernee

Wed 10 Apr

Erik Dernee, an Advertising graduate of 2022, is working on the border of commercial economics and the creative landscape of advertising. With a passion for entrepreneurship and a keen eye for innovative solutions, Erik's time at WdKA was full of creativity, personal growth, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Let's delve into his experiences at WdKA and his ventures as a young entrepreneur.

How did you end up at WdKA?

“My journey to WdKA took a rather unconventional route. Initially studying commercial economics, I soon realized that my true passion lay elsewhere. After taking a break and working on personal development through travel, I found myself drawn to the creative possibilities offered by the advertising programme at WdKA. Despite initially feeling like an outsider in the world of art and design, I was captivated by the creative potential of advertising and saw it as a means to express myself as an entrepreneur.”

How did you experience your time at WdKA?

“I see my time at WdKA was a transformative period of personal and creative growth. Initially grappling with the unfamiliarity of the artistic environment, I soon embraced the unique educational approach of WdKA, which I like to refer to as "the school of life." The curriculum not only fostered my creative development but also encouraged introspection and personal growth. Opting for the commercial practice track allowed me to blend my entrepreneurial mindset with artistic expression, paving the way for diverse projects and collaborations, including socially impactful initiatives.”

How did your project, Cold Kick Coffee, come to life at WdKA?

“During my time at WdKA, I had the opportunity to dedicate time to personal projects during the ‘plus weeks’. It was during this period that the concept for Cold Kick Coffee was born. Post-graduation, I pursued the professionalization of this concept, bringing Cold Kick Coffee to life. With a focus on high-caffeine, low-sugar plant-based coffee products, Cold Kick Coffee has since evolved into a tangible product, available in select stores and online platforms.

What happened after graduation?

“While I secured a job at an agency, my entrepreneurial aspirations continued to drive me forward. The launch of Cold Kick Coffee became a focal point, motivating me to navigate the challenges of the startup phase. Despite the initial hurdles, I remain committed to realizing my vision for Cold Kick Coffee and hope to see it flourish in the years to come.”

What are the struggles you are facing as a young entrepreneur?

“The journey of entrepreneurship comes with challenges too, particularly in a saturated market like that of coffee products. Generating demand and assembling a skilled team are ongoing struggles, compounded by the inherent uncertainties of the startup phase. However, I remain resilient in my pursuit, continuously seeking innovative solutions and strategic collaborations to overcome these obstacles.”

What was the most valuable thing about your time at the academy?

“The most valuable aspect of my time at WdKA was the opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Through creative exploration and introspection, I learned to articulate my vision and values, translating them into tangible projects and ventures. WdKA provided the nurturing environment and supportive community necessary for me to realize my potential and carve out my path as a creative entrepreneur.”

What advice would you like to give to current WdKA students aspiring to a similar position?

“To my fellow WdKA students, I would urge you to stay true to your vision and goals. Embrace your unique strengths and talents, and focus on becoming the best version of yourself in your chosen field. Engage in conversations about your ideas, as sharing them with others can bring them closer to fruition. Remember that every challenge is an opportunity for growth, and perseverance is key in order to truly become the person you want to be.”