Have you had a golden idea for a start-up for years, but haven’t found the courage to actually launch? We are happy to help you get over the hurdle. Read our tips and launch your start-up this year. Let’s go!
1. Choose focus
Many start-ups see the light of day as a passion project alongside a full-time job. That makes sense somewhere, since you still have to pay the bills. Entrepreneurship is often a risk, so it’s understandable that you can’t afford to drop your regular job right away. Yet sooner or later it is time to take the step. If you are serious about growing your startup, then you need to go for focus! Be busy with your start-up, day in and day out and from morning to night. You can create that focus in different ways, for example by joining an accelerator program.
According to Edgar Warmoes of start-up and legal platform Jureca, an accelerator can’t help you. “Thanks to Birdhouse’s accelerator program, our company is no longer just a project. Due to the intensive guidance and numerous useful workshops, you are forced to be constantly busy with your business. Every two weeks there are evaluations and you present to a series of mentors, and this encourages you as an entrepreneur to focus 100%. Moreover, it allows you to take quick steps and make real progress.”
2. Surround yourself with like-minded souls
Nothing is more inspiring than working in a space filled with entrepreneurs who are just as passionate as you are. In most coworking spaces, cross-pollination is inevitable.
“The cross-pollination we experienced with Kadonation was phenomenal,” attests Fabrice of Kadonation. On the other hand, a lot of business is done here between the companies. Stampix, for example, with its target group of retailers, had a great interface with us, so both parties benefited from that.”
You also learn a lot from other entrepreneurs, and they provide inspiration and motivation. “By talking to mentors, other start-ups and stakeholders you can learn a lot in a short time“, Ruben Vleurick looks back.
“With Studaro, we have really seen what it does to work in a co-working space. We used to run our business in the living room at home, but an environment with driven entrepreneurs encourages you even more to make the most of it.”
“Other start-ups or scale-ups might be in the same phase as you, or one before or after,” states Joris De Koninck. “At Kayzr, we’ve seen that you can share a lot of expertise with the rest, which also allows you to save each other from certain mistakes.”
3. Work even more actively on your network
You may have already built a nice network over the years, but make sure you do so even more in 2018! The value of a good network is invaluable. A good way to expand your own network is to join a network that has already proven its value. And that value can come in different forms. “Thanks to Birdhouse, we got in touch with Luc Van Mol, among others – our biggest investor now,” says Fabrice of Kadonation. Edgar Warmoes of Jureca also attaches great importance to it.
“The Birdhouse network is not only large, but more importantly personal. Because we are in the accelerator program with only 15 start-ups, more attention is paid to you, while you also meet a lot of new people. Everyone knows each other.”
4. Seek mentorship
“The help of mentors have definitely paid off for Kadonation,” says founder Fabrice. Together with Jelle Van Roosbroeck, he started up a platform that simplifies gift aggregation for both individuals and companies. “Our mentors made us realize that we needed to take advantage of our first market advantage. This required rapid growth. At first, our platform was mainly for consumers who wanted to put together a group potluck, but we recognized that Kadonation was mostly used by businesses. So thanks in part to the mentors, we started focusing more on that.”
Because we believe the power of mentorship is essential to the success of your start-up, The Birdhouse plays very much into this mentorship. As an accelerator, we want to differentiate ourselves with our offering of mentors. Each company at The Birdhouse is assigned two experts who are responsible for guidance and advice. Simon Tavernier of Stampix, the app that allows you to print all your selfies and holiday photos from your smartphone for free, says that this was the main motivation to participate. “We were delving into the marketing world and finding out who the movers and shakers were,” it sounds like.
“The fact that there were such big names in the range of mentors without a doubt won us over.”
We don’t lie: we are extremely happy that the quality of our mentors is being recognized. Both in Ghent and Antwerp, names like Bart De Waele, Wilfried Van Assche and Philip Timmermans are ready to take our start-ups and scale-ups to the next level.
5. Determine your financing requirements
To really grow, you often need money. Make sure you take the time to determine for yourself what your financing needs are. Will you be able to make ends meet with your first paying customers, or will you need external funding? Once you’ve decided, start looking for what will help you best. Are you possibly eligible for grants, or are you looking at a bank loan or investment from a capital fund?
6. All at once? Sign up for Birdhouse
We think this is the best tip for growing, even if we say so ourselves ;). If you want all of the above tips in one fell swoop, sign up for Birdhouse’s accelerator program! You get…
- 6 months free office space
- which, by the way, is filled with inspiring entrepreneurs
- where networking events are regularly organized
- along with workshops and sessions to polish your skills
- while you are assisted by your assigned mentors
- and you have access to capital thanks to Belfius
Sound good? Above all, believe the start-ups that are currently participating:
Studaro, the online platform that allows foreign students to easily find a student job in the city where they are studying, knows all about it. “In the beginning, we actually wanted to do everything,” indicates co-founder Ruben Vleurick. “Birdhouse gave us the right direction and structure. Where we used to want to cover all student jobs, we now focus more on IT jobs. “
“The counselling process has actually allowed us to delineate our products. We’ve pivoted about 3 times, and are now proud to have a product-market-fit. But what strikes me most is that we managed to do this within a period of 3 months. So the intensity of the accelerator has given us tremendous speed.”
“That’s also where you see the difference between an incubator and accelerator,” believes Joris De Koninck of eSports platform Kayzr.
Especially companies that already have an MVP
Do you think the Birdhouse accelerator is for you? With Birdhouse we believe in practice what you preach and we too have our own focus. Because we can only accommodate 15 start-ups, we mainly focus on companies that already have an MVP. Edgar from Jureca can agree that we are strict, but fair in that regard: “Only on our third application were we selected. The first two times, when we were in the idea and development phases respectively, we were advised to keep working until we got our go-to market. And indeed, the third time, we did!”