What do participants say about Start it @KBC?
“Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs who can share practical experience is the biggest advantage”
Sam Boribon – founder.
Idea: “Digital assistance with one-on-one meetings.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
How do one-on-one meetings help on workplaces?
People usually spend from one third to quarter of their life in the workplace, so the initiatives to improve the comfort of employees are gaining the momentum. Among the most effective steps towards a better situation in employees-centric companies are one-on-one meetings, which are decreasing retention while increasing engagement and productivity. Sam Boribon and his team developed Frizby, which is an interesting solution, and that is how the founder explains it:
“Frizby is a software that helps managers to run productive one-on-one meetings with thoughtful reports. That is the reaction to the fact that annual performance review alone is not effective, while frequent feedback sessions during the year give a more regularity and consistency. In a few words, it is a digital assistant that makes sure that the manager and employees have well-structured and productive one-on-one meetings.”
Expectations vs Reality
As almost every startupper, Sam was looking for good mentorship and network, useful workshops and free office space before entering Start it @KBC accelerator. However, not all the expectations were met, but the founder also gained unforeseen perks from participation.
“I benefited a lot from their network and community, just being there and implementing my idea into other startups,” began the owner of Frizby. “The accelerator also gives visibility and credibility to your company as their name is influential in Belgium, so when someone defines that you were selected by Start it @KBC, it provides your firm with extra authority. Another advantage is the ability to expand the list of contacts by visiting the variety of meetings they organise.”
“I benefited a lot from their network and community, just being there and implementing my idea into other startups.”Sam Boribon
Where to find investments?
The interviewee also shared diverse aspects related to sponsoring. “They do not fund startups directly even though KBC allows pitching in front of them. We tried when the product wasn’t enough good for them, but now they use Frizby to manage startup incubators in Belgium easier. Thus, our investors were the result of conversations with other entrepreneurs who had resolved similar problems and found money outside the program.“
Can community be the best helper?
The instance of Sam Boribon will be most valuable for those who share his thought that “being surrounded by other entrepreneurs who can share practical experience is the biggest advantage.” The author did not receive a proper mentor or great sponsor; still, he was fully satisfied with the program as he tried to rely on the community but not on one person. Probably, the interviewee just wanted to follow quote of the American poet and journalist A.D. Posey: ‘surround yourself with those conducive to you being your highest self.’
“Our startup had the luck of trust from the side of potential clients, so joining to program gave us something like ‘trust stamp’ and opened doors that were locked before”
Judith Ketelslegers – co-founder.
Idea: “Algorithm for predicting sales in retail and supermarkets.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
How effective could purchases in retail be?
Digital era opened new approaches to organising various processes, and computer optimisation fulfilled all the spheres of human life. Amid the most demanding areas for such improvements become retail stores and supermarkets, where the huge variety of products require large areas just for warehouses. Nothing to say about perishable goods and foods that should be sold on time, so optimisation of the sell/purchase amounts plays a crucial role in the whole effectiveness of the groceries.
“We developed a machine learning algorithm that forecasts sales,” explained Judith Ketelslegers, a co-founder of the startup. “Our team found that current prediction system can be improved, so we developed a new formula that allows defining the needed amount of the products for the specific retail store with the accuracy of about 95%. Available input data of the stores can be used more effectively, but Foresightee also includes additional information to increase effectiveness. Thus, the more accurate procurement process can reduce warehouses, decrease losses of unsold perishable goods, and save money for unneeded purchases.”
Who plays the primary role during the program?
According to the interviewee, among the reasons to join the accelerator were authority and level of expertise. “Our startup had the luck of trust from the side of potential clients, so joining to program gave us something like ‘trust stamp’ and opened doors that were locked before. Also, Start it @KBC helps in avoiding pitfalls and really accelerates your business as has a developed mentorship, network, and valuable workshops.”
To open more details, Judith gave an example. “If you need to improve your business plan, you’ll receive a meeting with the expert in this area who will explain all the potential issues and related aspects. However, the expert will not accomplish this task with you as the startupper has to be proactive, and I think it is the best way to really grow and upgrade skills.”
One more benefit of using office space
The ability to use free office space usually sounds like a highly appreciative option from the participants, but the co-founder of Foresightee added one more essential item. “As we had a remote team of developers, we didn’t need facilities all the time. Nevertheless, you can book a meeting room, and it looks professionally if you need to talk with potential clients or investors, who wouldn’t come to the garage (smiling).”
“You can book a meeting room, and it looks professionally if you need to talk with potential clients or investors, who wouldn’t come to the garage.”Judith Ketelslegers
A supply chain is vital for all businesses
A famous leader and writer Steven J. Bowen once said that ‘every company’s supply chain should be its ultimate competitive weapon—not the gun with which you shoot yourself in the foot.’ Judith Ketelslegers understands the value of this phenomenon and ready to improve the algorithm continuously. It seems that all she has to do now is to wait until everyone understands the advantages of optimising in retail.
“Even a technically perfect product cannot survive without appropriate marketing or things alike”
Niels Bosmans – co-founder.
Idea: “Deep focus camera system.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
Can a startup be better than a famous brand?
Camera technologies are influencing many areas of human life, from pure entertainment to saving lives. It is hard to enter the market of the world’s giants, which have the resources to introduce new products at an ever-increasing speed. But Invenira is taking up the challenge by focusing on what it does best, creating innovations in the area of computational imaging, and by closing collaborations with industrial partners to speed up the development and commercialisation of its innovations. One of the company’s early inventions is a deep focus camera system. Niels Bosmans, a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and CTO of Invenira, explains:
“Our vision system can precisely image 3D objects over a twenty times larger depth, without sacrificing image resolution or speed as other technologies do. Clients can use this solution to inspect the quality of their products without losing time with capturing multiple images or without the need for multiple cameras.”
Do breakthrough ideas need acceleration?
The decision to join Start it @KBC was quite traditional in terms of general reasons. “We were seeking for the network as it opens a lot of space to grow,” began Niels. “Being a CTO, I also understood that their workshops would boost our company as even a technically perfect product cannot survive without appropriate marketing or things alike.”
Acceptance can be tough
The feeling that nano accuracy was not only part of Niels’ PhD research came after the question about the acceptance process. “About 50% of applicants got through. We did a lot of preparation to be among the lucky ones, so I wouldn’t say it was easy.”
“We got rejected the first time we applied because our business model didn’t match their expectations.”Niels Bosmans
However, our interviewee also met some difficulties with the application process. “We got rejected the first time we applied because our business model didn’t match their expectations. Nevertheless, it facilitated the thought that the technical side of the project is not the only thing that matters.”
The regarded case have to inspire young entrepreneurs and scientists to believe that passion and reliable knowledge base could be enough to try their forces on the technical battlefield, even in the fight with digital corporations.
“As the program is designed for the early-stage startups, we came with the idea only and some test results”
Alexandre Van Deun – co-founder.
Idea: “Sustainable vertical farming solutions.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
Farms in the centre of cities?
Global warming is causing climate changes, such as droughts, severe storms and other cataclysms all over the globe. The agricultural sector is traditionally among the most unstable industries due to the weather volatility, which will only increase over the coming years. Solutions like greenhouses and vertical farms are intended to solve this problem, at least partially.
“There are plenty of solutions in vertical farming now, but we also suggest our customers a commercial help,” began Alexandre Van Deun, a co-founder of Urban Harvest. “We provide potential clients not only with technical systems for the sustainable growing of crops but also offer them an interesting commercial margin. It can be compared to a franchise model, where the client receives a whole business solution with its own customers. Our growing boxes are optimised to consume minimum water and electricity, pesticide-free, and can be installed almost everywhere.”
Do not hesitate to test your forces
Although Alexandre and his co-founder developed a whole business solution, they came to Start it @KBC with an almost only idea. “As the program is designed for the early-stage startups, we came with the idea only and some test results. It is normal not to know answers on all the question during the acceptance process. This friendly attitude both to applicants and participants is one of the greatest benefits of the program alongside with office facilities and coaching.”
The network is huge but not organised
“Their network should be better organised. For instance, the ability to scroll the list of potential partners or look at the map of people that may be introduced for warm contact seems to be a great improvement.”Alexandre Van Deun
The issue of networking was quite controversial for the interviewee who highlighted both the pros and cons of its usage. “The absence of direct funding wasn’t a problem as there was a DEMO day where participants can pitch in front of investors. One of our current sponsors was found in this way. However, their network should be better organised. For instance, the ability to scroll the list of potential partners or look at the map of people that may be introduced for warm contact seems to be a great improvement.”
The upcoming irreplaceable solution?
There are no doubts that vertical farming will be a growing trend in the nearest future, which will be only facilitated by scientific improvements. Optimised resources, ability to use rainwater or industrial warm, few layers of crops in the small box, decreased transportation due to the ability to install such mini-farms in the big cities – all these factors matter nowadays but will only increase their influence in the future. Do you ready to the image when franchising business will be not only on the ground flours of the high-rising buildings but also on their roofs?