We continue widening the geography of European startup accelerators with the next stop in Belgium. Although the country is not among the biggest in Europe, it is one of the most influential and open to cooperation. Start it @KBC accelerator is not only the most significant helper to entrepreneurs with offices in all the biggest cities in Belgium, but also has representative institutions in Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Participation perks of Start it @KBC
Amid their primary benefit is a vast network that is possible due to their partnership in Global Acceleration Network (GAN). They are free and do not require any equity from the participants for their office facilities and mentorship. Even though this accelerator does not give funds directly, they help with finding investors and prepare young entrepreneurs to the financial negotiations. Also, they are open to international startuppers and ready to boost any innovative idea from various spheres.
What members say about Start it @KBC?
“Having a dedicated team, addiction to the product you develop, and the innovative idea seems to be the most important elements you have to show”
Nicolas Cognaux – co-founder & CTO.
Idea: “Platform for making events’ transportation easier and more effective.”
Business Target Audience: Mainly Belgium and France.
One more variant to get to the occasion
Have you ever had the problems with transportation to some event like the inconvenience of public transport, the undesirability of using your own, or lack of wish to pay for a taxi? Nicolas Cognaux and his team suggest the solution to such issues in the form of an online platform where participants of the event can cooperate to make reaching the occasion place easier.
“The idea was to help event organisers and create a carpooling service for their guests,” explains Nicolas. “Users can see the info about the location of available cars or participants on the map via web and mobile application with further simple cooperation. All this makes the whole process cheaper, funnier, and even reduces the harmful emission, as about 40% of the ecological footprint of every event belongs to the transportation of attendees.”
Why choose ‘Start it @KBC’
Although every entrepreneur wants to accelerate the business, various people still look at different perks they can receive. “Start it @KBC is the best startup accelerator in Belgium, and their network opened to us Dutch speaking part of the country, which made the decision to join them really easy. One can access and participate in all the workshops they propose but is not obliged to. Before attending to this accelerator, I had an experience in the business incubator for students, but the advice was coming from the people who have never created a company, while in Start it such people are with practical experience.”
“I had an experience in the business incubator for students, but the advice was coming from the people who have never created a company, while in Start it such people are with practical experience.”Nicolas Cognaux
During acceptance, be ready to…
There are a lot of criteria to be adhered to join the program, and Nicolas highlighted the essential ones. “As for me, having a dedicated team, addiction to the product you develop, and the innovative idea seems to be the most important elements you have to show in front of a jury. What is nice, they give you advice even during the acceptance process.”
From programmer to entrepreneur
Assistance on practice
Describing the educational part of the program, Nicolas added that “the primary assistance comes from the community manager who tries to understand your needs and find appropriate helpers. For instance, sales were not my strong side, but meeting with one of the best managers opened various hidden tips that were successfully implemented on practice.”
Another example is related to finding investors and communication with them. The interviewee explained: “they do no invest directly, but their network opens numerous possibilities. Coaches show how to pitch in front of potential shareholders and help in creating the right contract without tricky elements or a too complicated one.”
Hmmm, sometimes we really need to simplify some aspects and reduce too difficult conditions to become happier and more successful, don’t we?
“GAN status gave us access to perks like $20,000 Google Cloud credit and even technical consultations with this digital giant”
Pierre Dufrasne – co-founder.
Idea: “Digital personalised coaching in the gym.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
Artificial intelligence goes further
The famous author of psychological books and motivation speaker Jim Rohn once said: ‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.’ Probably, this phrase and its variations became a cornerstone of the growing trends of a healthy lifestyle and visiting gyms in particular. Taking into account regular growth of personal training, the idea to create an individual digital coach seems to be perspective.
“We are building an intelligent system that can track the workout in the gym and adjust the training processes according to an individual level,” began Pierre Dufrasne. “The core focus is set on building an algorithm that will distinguish a workout and transform it into valuable advice. On practice, it will be the combination of cameras that are set in a gym, the algorithm, and computer that will provide and explain what the person has or has not to do during physical training.”
What can the program give to suchlike startups?
The question about the motives to join Start it @KBC was simple to the interviewee, and he shared a pretty honest answer. “It is a win-win scenario for us: they do not require equity while providing startuppers with office space, educational support, broad network and friendly community.”
“[Joining Start it @KBC ] is a win-win scenario for us: they do not require equity while providing startuppers with office space, educational support, broad network and friendly community.”Pierre Dufrasne
Even though Pierre Dufrasne and his team did not receive direct cash support from the accelerator, the help of Start it @KBC can be seen with the naked eye. “We are still at the early stage and focused on fundraising at the moment as a project like ours requires huge financial support. KBC’s network allowed us to meet some bankers and potential investors. Their GAN status gave us access to perks like $20,000 Google Cloud credit and even technical consultations with this digital giant.”
Why does community so important?
According to the interviewee, the most significant benefits of joining Start it @KBC are the support of the community manager, network, and office space. The last item even deserved a unique compliment as “the atmosphere and people that around you are great, and it is a solid advantage for young entrepreneurs. The issues can be resolved in different flexible ways, among which are friendly community manager, specific workshops, and even a Facebook group with people that ready to handle you.”
In the era of digital technologies and better focus on details, the idea of Pierre Dufrasne and his team seems to be really perspective, although it is hard in the implementation. However, it is not a dream and more a matter of time and resources. It is even interesting how many people will be ready to go to the gym if they receive individual digital coach?
“Startuppers should never give equity to accelerator, coach, or mentor, as there are so many opportunities to receive assistance for free”
Caroline Basecqz – founder & CEO.
Idea: “Digitising and centralising the flow of construction documentation.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
CRM for construction business?
According to the study by McKinsey & Co. held in 2016, the construction industry is among the least digitised. On practice, it means that even customer relationship management (CRM) systems or single platforms for the particular project aren’t widespread. With the idea to fix such a problem, Caroline Basecqz and her team created Smartbeam.
“We are building an application that helps to collaborate in the construction business, starting with tendering and ending with invoicing the projects. Our solution looks like the place where all the excels, emails, and working communication is held. It decreases the amount of manual job like filling the same tables and allows to proceed with the complete documentation for all the parties in one place, including generating the reports and control of the workflow.”
How and why to join the acceleration program?
The owner of Smartbeam showed a high level of honesty answering the question about the reasons to join Start it @KBC. “The primary reason was the office facilities. However, it means not only saving money but also an open-minded community and sharing ideas with them.”
The digital product did not change significantly after the participation as the interviewee knew what she wanted. However, her first try to join the program failed. “I tried to enter the accelerator on my own, but had no clients and did not show traction. Nevertheless, after forming a team and getting a few customers, the second attempt was successful.”
Drawbacks of Start it @KBC?
The sincerity of Caroline can also be found in answer to the question about the weakest point of joining Start it @KBC. “What is interesting, we did not have a mentor as did not require it. Most of the information was coming from the community and coaches. However, one should be ready that some trainers can be too busy to give appropriate recommendations.”
“One should be ready that some trainers can be too busy to give appropriate recommendations.”Caroline Basecqz
The potential of warm contacts
The businesswoman also highlighted some exciting aspects of the community and getting warm contacts. “There are something like ‘thirsty Thursdays’ where people can have some drinks and talk in a more informal atmosphere. Among other exciting events was meeting ‘women in Tech.’ Such occasions are also facilitated by KBC’s network, which in sum gives a broad base of contacts with potential investors and clients.”
Why is free participation vital?
At the end of the conversation, we’ve highlighted an appealing thought when Caroline was discussing the issue of equity and direct funding by acceleration programs. “Startuppers should never give equity to accelerator, coach, or mentor, as there are so many opportunities to receive assistance for free.” Taking into account the growing success of the interviewed businesswoman, think twice before making such decisions not to regret later.
“After the adoption, we defined that open-minded community, coaches, and managers became even more important than free office space”
Ignace Buelens – co-founder.
Idea: “Online solution to deal with old and new utility contracts during relocation faster and easier.”
Business Target Audience: Belgium.
10 minutes to deal with all the contracts during relocation
The relocation was always among the most annoying processes as it required a massive amount of details to adhere at the same time. Finding a new apartment can be an inspirational aspect. Still, even thoughts themselves about removing can muchly decrease the overall positive effect, nothing to say about the paper and contract work that should be accomplished. Thanks to the guys like Ignace Buelens, this process becomes much more pleasant.
“We created an online one-stop-shop where the person can arrange all the removing administration in under 10 minutes. We are looking for the best utility contracts like insurance, energy, telecommunication and things alike, that may be applied in the new place or transferred from the old one. Moreover, the person not only receives the best conditions at the new place, but also saves time to notify previous suppliers about the relocation, and all this is free of charge.”
Reasons to join Start it @KBC
The role of Start it @KBC in this exciting project is vast, and that is how the interviewee explained it. “We started working on the idea in my kitchen, but in few months discovered that co-working place is much better for smooth work. So, our primary intention was to receive free office space at the accelerator, which can be used during 1,5 year. However, after the adoption, we defined that open-minded community, coaches, and managers became even more important.”
Adoption can be flexible
Even though the acceptance process is defined and startups can join the accelerator only in autumn and spring, the team of Smooved received access to all the facilities in January. “We left our jobs in January, and that was the most convenient time to join Start it @KBC. So, we convinced a community manager to give us a wildcard and our team received all the perks of being there from January, while the official adoption was made later in March.”
“We convinced a community manager to give us a wildcard and our team received all the perks of being there from January, while the official adoption was made later in March.”Ignace Buelens
Community generates solutions itself
Amid the primary benefits, Ignace’s company received during participation was community. “Everyone is ready to help you, and that is the best assistance. For instance, if you need to hire people, there were a lot of startups that came through their struggles and issues so you can leverage on their practical experience.”
What is interesting, almost every startup brings the same convenience to the people – using the experience they paid attention to and making some process much more comfortable for others. Probably, that is the reason why people like startups – they feel that the solution was done with empathy but not only for money.