The Startup Landscape in Belgium, United in Brussels

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Almost 75.000 companies were started last year in Belgium, a record! Something is moving, entrepreneurship and freelancing is getting a lot of attention these days.

Startups.be

It was no surprise that over 600 people registered for the inauguration event of startups.be in the Egg. Startups.be is an open organization grouping together players that offer support to entrepreneurs. An astonishing number of 28 organizations are taking part on this iniciative (on time of writing). On startups.be you will find the complete overview, together with the kind of services and advice they have to offer. I encourage you to have a look.

The Workshops

The event itself then: in the afternoon workshops were scheduled on a variety of entrepreneurship related topics. I personally visited the "lean startup" workshop where my colleague Vladimir and Erik Talboom (AgileMinds) did a great job explaining how Silicon Valley manages to go from idea to business. (I wrote about lean startups earlier on this blog. If you want, you can read my post about "From a Software Idea to an Actual Business".) The second session I attended was about marketing for 0 budget, which was enthusiastically presented by Leo Exter of WeStartup. He gave a seminar on "Internet marketing on a budget". My biggest takeaway: E-mail marketing done well really works and if your marketing plan consists of "using social media" and "going viral" then you're in trouble.

Keynotes and Betagroup

Bart Becks opened the second part of the event to introduce the first keynote speaker, Maurice Engelen. Maurice Engelen is an entrepreneur in the music industry. He started (among other things) a record label and a booking service. He was also an electronic music pioneer with Pragha Khan and more recently launched SonicAngel, a crowd funding platform for music artists (Tom Dice is the biggest success to date). Main message of the talk: a strong vision and a lot of hard work will get you there.

The next one on stage was the ever smiling Jean Derely from the Betagroup. The Betagroup gatherings follow a simple yet extremely effective format: 6 startups get to pitch their product for 6 minutes sharp and receive 2-3 questions from the public. Jean concludes the pitch with the confronting question: "who would invest his/her own money in this startup". This Betagroup episode was a big success, the pitches were of high quality and in the end, we saw many hands raised.

Closing Words

In short, the event was stellar. I would like to thank Karen and IBBT for the organization of this event. The next steps will be harder to take though: it will include things like "strong vision" and "hard work" but I'm confident that together, we can put Belgium even more on the startup map.