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The secret lives of founders: the disruptive CEO obsessed with Berlin doors Written by Linsey Fryatt on 9. August 2012

Justin McMurray

Justin McMurray is the Australian-born founder of Somewhere, the creative recruitment tool that aims to pair people and employers based on passions and personality. Among his many inspired online projects is Berlin Doors – documenting the colourful world of the capital’s portals. We speak to him about why Berlin provides inspiration both professionally and creatively…

Justin McMurray

Hey Justin, first – and most obvious – question: why Berlin doors specifically?

I’ve always had creative side-projects on the go and when I first arrived in Berlin, I wanted to do something that was uniquely, well.. Berlin. In the first few days wandering around my neighbourhood in Kreuzberg, I was blown away by all the street art, which has long been one of my passions. Beyond all the brilliant set pieces, I loved that so many doors had been worked on. There was something about doors being used as public canvases that grabbed my attention. So #berlindoors was born.

berlin door 1

How you get your shots?

The first few weeks I spent a lot of time walking around different Berlin neighbourhoods. Wherever I went I found lots of interesting doors so I would just take the shot on my iPhone right there and then. The photography itself isn’t that brilliant, and many of the night shots indicate that I’d had a couple too many drinks, but that’s part of the beauty of it. Doors appear when they appear.

Why is it important to flex a creative muscle as well as concentrate on your main work?

Having a side-project is incredibly crucial. It serves as not just a creative distraction but an opportunity to play around and have some fun. When you’re building a startup, you spend a lot of time thinking about and working towards various outcomes, many of them in the future. Things like articulating your mission, finding customers, building a team etc. Side projects are brilliant in that you do them solely for the joy and experience of simply doing them.

berlin door 2

Any advice to inspire people to do the same?

Berlin is made for side-projects as there are so many fantastic, inspiring and interesting people and things. And all the tools and equipment and sites you need are free and easily available. The interesting thing is that I’ve found that side-projects come up a lot when I am talking to companies about helping them find people who are a cultural fit (for my startup Somewhere).
Companies love to see people with enthusiasm and creativity who have some side-projects. It makes total sense for what we’re trying to do with Somewhere. I can assure you, #berlindoors says 1000 times more about me and who I am than my LinkedIn profile.

berlin door 3

For related posts, check out:

The secret lives of founders: Amen’s Caitlin Winner’s Berlin-inspired oil paintings