Within Seats2meet we see people sharing their skills and learning relevant things everyday. Dedico is a platform that offers a space for people to teach and learn about the things they love. That’s why we think it is a perfect match. We interviewed Mariano, Dedico’s idealiser and co-founder to know more about it.
Hello Mariano, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I am a spanish designer/creative from Málaga. I have worked for 15 years in advertising agencies and design studios. In 2010, when I was living in Barcelona, I started a new path in my career designing interfaces and brand design in a startup. With an artistic and creative background, UIUX and interfaces became a good way to pay my bills, but in my heart I was still missing the artistic side of design. So, maybe because technology was occupying most of my time everyday, I started to consider “creative escapes” to fill up my free time, weekends and holidays.
Anyway, I never was a quiet guy, I played in experimental music bands, won a few photography contests and like filming when I am not surfing, baking or making calligraphy. I am not especially good at any of this, so in the end I think I became a specialist in going to workshops instead of learning something for real, hahaha.
You are the co-founder of Dedico, a platform for workshop teachers and the long life learners who would like to take part on those workshops. Where did the idea for this business come from? And why?
At that time in Barcelona, I really needed to balance my not very exciting professional life with some creative activities, but I never had time after work. My partner at that time couldn’t travel that summer, so I was alone for the first time during a holiday. I had to decide what was more important, the activity or the destination. And my conclusion was that I didn’t really care about the destination at all. What really mattered was doing what I like and learning calligraphy with a master was my biggest (professional) obsession and frustration for years. I started asking people who recommended me going to the Oriol Mirò and Allan Daastrup Copplerplate workshop in Denmark. It took me a flight to Hamburg, a train to Flensburg, another train to Rødekro and two tiny local buses (I was the only passenger) for reaching the small village of Logumkloster. I spent 10 days walking in amazing forests, drinking wine till very late everyday, chatting about typefaces and design, listening to free Bach organ concerts in an old church and suddenly, after 10 days of holidays, boom! years of frustration were gone. I was able to master calligraphy. When I came back to Barcelona I said to everyone, these are the holidays of the future, everyone should travel like this at least once in a lifetime. This was summer 2012.
How did the idea become a company?
In 2013 I moved to Amsterdam for working as a designer in Layar, an augmented reality start-up, and Dirk Groten was CTO and one of my bosses in this company. In 2016, we were both free and coincided in time and space again. He has a great reputation in the tech business and community, so I pitched him the idea, and he just decided to become my partner, CTO and CEO of Dedico (thank god:). Someone had to put some order in the house.
Can anyone include their workshop on Dedico?
Absolutely. We are an open platform, not just a webpage. Behind Dedico there is a year of hard work creating a platform able to host almost any kind of learning course, camp, submitted by teachers themselves and organisations, with or without accommodation, and all over the world. We curate this content under the rule of being a real learning holiday, not just a touristic experience. So we expect travelers to achieve their personal goals. If the program doesn’t fit our concept of true learning, we recommend the organiser to create another program that is more Dedico-alike. The program of the workshop has to be pretty clear because we don’t want frustrated customers.
What is the craziest workshop there?
Umm, there are a few of them. I am a big fan of Dafi Kühne’s Typographic summer in Switzerland. I have attended one of his workshops myself and what you can learn in two weeks with this guy is way deeper than what you can learn in a trimester in the university. The “Knife walkabout” in an Indian reservation in California; sailing in a tall ship, building your house in Virginia or a bamboo villa in Bali are all pretty amazing. The martial arts retreats where you live like a Shaolin monk in China or this Muay Thai one to become a killing machine in Thailand are pretty tough. Meditation retreats, Ukulele in Hawaii, Coding Bootcamp in Amsterdam, Building your own robot, Gipsy jazz guitar retreat, learning shamanism or Reiki for animals are about to come. But not everything has to that “unusual”, we have plenty of selected surf camps, photography courses and sushi lessons. Personally, I would go to all of them! We have six learning areas: “creative & crafts”, “music and dance”, “tech and languages”, “food and beverages”, “sports and outdoor” and “mind and wellness”.
And which workshop you feel is a must do?
A “must do” learning experience is a call inside of everyone. It’s a very personal thing. Everyone has something to learn. Nobody proudly say: “I don’t want to learn something new” right?. Learning doesn’t only mean intellectual topics, you might want to learn how to write a novel and other people might be interested in how to customize a yellow 1996 Opel Calibra. We don’t judge, we just provide the people who want to learn something, the right course for learning it. And If I you come back home learning what you expected, this is called happiness.
My native language is Portuguese, and Dedico is the first person conjugation for the verb “to dedicate”. Does the name have something to do with it? And if not, where did the name Dedico come from?
When we were thinking about our company’s name the main drive was always the difference between spending some time doing something (experience) or fully devoting your time on your passion (learning). That’s why we thought of introducing courses as a holiday format, because holidays are the best quality time for us (normal people) to practice something during the year. In Spanish or Italian this word “devoting time” is also known as “Dedicatio” or “Dedicazione”. The Dedico word and logo are about deeply focusing on something until you dominate it.
Seats2meet is a big fan of your platform. How do you think our users could make the most out of Dedico?
Well, we as Dedico team members are our target group ourselves. We never stop learning something new or attending courses. We are building a business, but we also believe in the honest drive of sharing knowledge. And we can recognise ourselves in the audience of Seats2meet, we are part of the same movement. We like exchanging skills and knowledge with colleagues and partners. It’s not strange in our life to see Dirk mentoring developers, or myself organising calligraphy workshops at home, and later on people compose music for our videos or teach us SEO techniques free of charge. Dedico is also about a connected community, giving and receiving. We are also like freelancers, who always need to continue refreshing their expertise with new areas of knowledge, never get stuck. We don’t want people to define our working time, but neither the industry to define what holidays have to be for the people. The time of choosing between beach or mountain is over, now we can choose beyond. Doesn’t that sound like we are all in the same boat?
Curious? You can check out Dedico right here!