Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Maaslife.nl wins Student Award
When Oliver Neumann and Patrick Ganter, both third-year International Business students, came to Maastricht, they felt somehow lost. “We didn’t know where to go to. Other students said there wasn’t much to do in Maastricht, but we discovered all sorts of events”, says Neumann. “We felt that it lacked an event planner specially for international students, like you have in so many other cities.” They sat around the table with two other friends – Michael Mandla and Albrecht Sensch – and decided to set up maaslife.nl. The website was launched in January 2010. Last Monday, at the opening of the academic year, they won the Student Award; a prize for students who have made a special contribution to society or culture. The award consists of a piece of art and €1,000.
Maaslife.nl lists upcoming events, parties, concerts and other cultural activities, as well as photos of events that have already taken place and news items. “We want to give students a broader view of Maastricht”, says Neumann. “So they don’t just stick to their own faculty and friends.”
The website is a success; they have over 1,000 followers on Facebook and 200 to 300 unique users per day. “In active months, that is”, concedes Ganter. “In the summertime it was less.” “We also don’t update the site that much when our target group – students – is not in Maastricht”, adds Neumann.
They hope their latest success, winning the Student Award, will give them more credibility. “The most difficult thing about setting up the website was getting a contact person at bars, cafés, study and student associations, etc.”, says Neumann. “Most people were sceptical about it.” “Writing an email is the easiest thing in the world, but getting an answer is really difficult”, says Ganter. “The first answer we usually got was: we don’t have money for this. But there’s no money involved. We finance the website by putting advertisements on it. We also had difficulties explaining the added value of the site. We hope people will be more willing now that we’re getting more widely known. If we are the platform in Maastricht, people will want to send us their events instead of us asking them to do it.”
The next few months are going to be very busy. Neumann: “We’re doing a lot of promotional work. All the boards of the student associations have changed, so we have to renew our contacts. We want to get more involved in all faculties; right now we’re very concentrated on the School of Business and Economics. And last but not least, we want to expand the team. Not just for now, but also for the future. This project doesn’t end with us. We have to make it sustainable for the future.”