Interview With Michel Frissen

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Michel Frissen (35), I live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Married and father of two beautiful girls (6 and 3 years old). I started entrepreneurship in 2006 in the music industry while getting my degree. Today I am the founder of Swibblr, a fashion startup (soon available), I have a freelance agency in creative services and design and I manage two cool music projects – &   


Who has been the biggest influence on your life and why?

Before naming the biggest influence I want to say there are so many people of good influence around me. Rotterdam is a sparkling city of entrepreneurship. I see and know lots of people that are currently making amazing steps with their businesses, which inspires me. To name a few Justin Hendrik is doing great with his music company Maktub Media, Michael Lints is now in Singapore as partner for early stage venture capital firm called Golden Gate Ventures, Sunir Patel is doing great with his sports management agency Supervision Management, Samantha Rodrigues is changing the way kids learn with You Talent, Karim Erja is killing it with his management company SeiSei, Sean Schipper is making waves with his creative collective Chips, Roger Brouwn, a serial entrepreneur recently started this amazing eating and meeting joint but does so many other things, Iwan Redan is doing great with his lifestyle and fitness movement called Beyond Yourself, Cye Wong-Loi-Sing also has an amazing creative agency and the list goes on and on. These are all people from around here who are doing amazing stuff and I could name at least 20 more easily. But if I have to name only one person who had the biggest influence on my life, of course, it has to be my mother. She overcame so many obstacles in life and to still see her smile every day, that’s something I admire.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

You can’t always have what you want in life when you want it. It takes dedication, hard work and a mostly patience to get where you want to go. On one hand, the things I’m after are so close, but yet they seem so far away. It isn’t always easy, but I have to hold on to it because this is what I want. In the end, I think it’s good that it takes patience because then you get to learn more important things. Like to be yourself and that grass is only greener where you water it.

Paperbeau l Live boldly and bloom l FrissenWith artist Abee, singing her first publishing deal at Universal.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I started freelancing 5 years ago after I had to file bankruptcy for my first company and there were no jobs out there cut for me. Also, I had just become a father and our expenses were demanding double income. So I did what I could to make an income. At first, we sold a lot of stuff to make it through the months. The turning point was when we only had €12 left to get groceries for a couple of days. We drove to the store, with our firstborn in the back of the car. My wife was crying and I felt terribly guilty. That moment I decided to make a change. I sold the last thing I owned (PlayStation 3) to print a business card and pay for my website hosting. And started offering freelance design services. Went to every event where someone could be looking for a designer. And basically worked crazy hours for small fees to build a portfolio. I’m proud that today I’ve worked for more than 100 clients, expanded the services, found a lot of great partners to team up with and mostly that I can support my family with it. Still, I feel the biggest accomplishments lie ahead of me.

Whenever you come to a setback what do you for your comeback?

I always write down the things I want to change in my life. I do this in a letter to myself. This helps me getting it off my chest and having a better perspective of the steps I need to take.

If you were writing the story of your life, how would you divide it into chapters?

I think I would centralize a thing that impacted me in every chapter.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were young?

To know that everyone has their own path, you can’t compare yourself to others. Although you can be inspired by others, you must do things your own way.

How do you define a “good life” or a “successful life”?

Being happy with what you do while staying healthy.

Do you think a person needs to first overcome serious setbacks or challenges to be truly successful?

You don’t necessarily need to overcome serious setbacks to be successful. But I do believe we all get to deal with setbacks at some point.

If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be and why?

I think a lot of problems are related to the imbalance in the world. You will always have minorities because of how our current system works. It’s basically a rat race where everyone is looking out for themselves making it to the finish line because the idea is created that there isn’t enough for everybody. This results in inequality.

How have your dreams and goals changed your life?

When I was 12 years old I dreamed about becoming a professional soccer player, at 16 I dreamed about having my own nightclub and when I turned 25 I dreamed of having the biggest music agency in the world. In between, I always dreamed of winning the lottery haha. I only started setting goals after my first company got bankrupt. It’s good to have dreams, but you can only make them come alive once you set goals.

What do you do for fun?

I most enjoy spending time with my wife and kids or friends and family, doesn’t matter if we play a game, go somewhere or just sit, talk and listen to music. Besides that, I love to watch sports, listen to podcasts, read lots of stuff and go to the gym occasionally.

What’s your favourite book and why?

It has to be “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It was a gift from my brother Reinaldo 5 years ago. It gave me a new perspective. I started to believe that anything is possible if you really really want it. But it’s also like Jim Carey says, you can’t wish for something and then just go eat a sandwich. You have to find out what you want and then devote years to it. I’m in the middle of that process.

Paperbeau l Live Boldly and bloom l FrissenWith Swibblr partner Vagner da Graca at Emerce eFashion.

How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life? How do you feel about that choice?

For me, at one point it wasn’t really a choice anymore with the freelance creative services. I just did what I could within my skill set to earn a living. Luckily I enjoyed it as well. With the Swibblr app, it was a chain of events over a period of two years that made us come up with the idea. Me and my partners Vagner da Graca and Michel Barbosa saw a problem we wanted to solve. When we couldn’t solve the problem it led to a new idea that we could better execute and with it solve a different problem, we are now working on the first official release after testing two Beta versions. With the music projects I manage, things are a bit different. Here I ‘manage’ instead of executing it myself. So it’s more connecting the dots, giving advice and support where needed, the artist needs to be the spark in the engine.

What do you think are your three best qualities?

– I am always eager to learn
– Most of the time I’m positive and in good humour
– I think really fast when it comes to solving problems

What are you working on to become a better YOU?

My children are good mirrors for that haha. I think people around me know I used to always have a bad temper. When I was younger I could literally explode when having an argument or when things didn’t work out the way I wanted. Although most of the time I stay calm nowadays, sometimes it happens. Mostly while driving in traffic, but then often my oldest daughter is there to tell me I can’t say ‘those’ words.

Do you have any special sayings or expressions?

We have a saying at Swibblr that I believe counts for everything I do. “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it”. It’s a good reminder to enjoy the now instead of only focussing on the future.

What place does religion have in your life?

I believe in God or the creator. Everything you see around you is so perfectly designed. Some greater power has to be responsible for it. For me, that doesn’t mean I am going to church a lot. But I am letting God know my gratitude for all my blessings every day. I recently started to grow an interest in Buddhism as well. Which is more about balance and soul growth.

If you could possess one superhuman power, what would it be?

As a huge Marvell fan, I think it would be amazing to have the ability to fly.

Paperbeau l Live Boldly and bloom l FrissenWith my Family.

Who was the biggest influence on your career?

Without a doubt my wife. She has always supported all my decisions, even though to others they seemed crazy. She believed in me more than I believed in myself at times.


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