For our sixth cohort, we selected 15 start-ups from 650 applications. All are ready to accelerate their business. We spoke with three of these sharp entrepreneurs and explored two trends we saw in this batch: artificial intelligence or AI and a social focus.
Supermarket of the future
One such AI startup is iRetailcheck. They are helping to build the future of retail with their artificial intelligence.“Our self-learning software is constantly improving itself.” explains Tom Symons, managing director of iRetailcheck.
We’re analyzing camera footage from stores. And when the algorithm encounters a certain pattern, it will learn from that and recognize it the next times as well.
For now, the software of iRetailcheck mainly recognises whether someone is stealing products from a shop. This anti-theft solution is proving very popular today and more than 100 supermarkets are using it. But the technology has much more potential than simply catching thieves.
“In the future, we will also offer
Offer solutions for innovative concepts such as self-checkout
and electronic payments.” explains Tom. “Our goal is for you to walk into a supermarket, take your purchases and just walk out again. The payment is then automatic, without having to wait anywhere.” A fully automated supermarket , therefore, something players like Amazon are already betting on.
iRetailcheck is already positioning itself to make this next technological phase possible. And that’s why they ended up at The Birdhouse. “We want to take the next step.” states Tom. “And in Belgium there are too few platforms to give start-ups a final boost. We want to for example, internationalise more. We are already active in a number of countries, such as the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.
But by the
end of The Birdhouse we want to be in much of Europe, America and the Middle East.
We also want to develop a solid marketing plan. And finally, raising capital would not be a bad thing.” laughs the entrepreneur.
Social entrepreneurship with AI
Today, they do create that impact in Africa. “
We work in Nigeria, where we tackle poverty and unemployment.
” explains Jonatan. “
We provide training in digital skills and entrepreneurship for unemployed youth in Nigeria. And during that training we also give them digital work. This way the students bridge that period and don’t have to hustle on the streets.
” We do this by offering a crowdsourcing service to AI companies. Because they often want to develop algorithms to recognize objects in photos and videos, but need clues to do so.
Through our service, people in Nigeria designate elements in photos, such as trees and animals, and companies use those designations to train their AI systems with.
AI can also be interpreted in a different way, as Humainly proves. They train young people in Nigeria and give them an income by letting them train on AI algorithms. “The idea for Humainly came about during a tour of South America. ” tells co-founder Jonatan Snyders.
“I ended up in Venezuela, a country that was already collapsing at the time.
I wanted to create work for people like them.
The idea changed very dramatically since then, but the main goal remained the same:
To create social impact.
Growth is already the main motive for them to choose The Birdhouse. “If we’re going to make our
want to increase social impact
then we must grow.” tells Jonatan. “Currently we have two problems: on the one hand we want to raise capital, but on the other hand we need to grow to a point where others want to invest in us. And that’s why we need coaching and mentoring. Something The Birdhouse excels at, their mentors are experienced and can really help us move forward.”
Artisanal and social pasta
Pastati is another social start-up from this cohort. They make artisanal pasta in a Belgian custom company (the former sheltered workshops). “For years I was an executive and consultant in various sectors such as the social economy.” explains Kristl De Loose, founder of Pastati.
But three years ago I suddenly became almost completely deaf. As a result, I could no longer hear the teams I was working with and had to quit my job.
After a long search, I decided to combine my love of Italy with my experience in the social economy, and Pastati was born.
Today they produce their daily fresh pasta at custom company Aarova in Oudenaarde and supply a range of restaurants and shops. They also focus on local products and work with Belgian farmers. Their ricotta even comes from Berlare.“There are, of course, hundreds of types of pasta.” tells Kristl. “Just walk around the supermarket and you’ll see lots of packaging. But I think we need a strike a sensitive chord through our focus on sustainability, locally and socially. And that ties in with what people find important. It’s pasta with a story.“
We chose The Birdhouse because of the mentors, the network and the possible help in raising capital.
” continues Kristl. “Especially the broad focus appealed to me. Businesses in all kinds of sectors get support from The Birdhouse.”
During these six months, I want to launch
a series of new products to the market
and also raise capital to make it happen. I also want to secure Pastati’s future.
Meet the start-ups
Of course, these are only three of the eighteen start-ups in cohort 6. Below is the full list of the lucky ones.
Get Driven is a app where screened and trained drivers come and drive your car. In a few clicks, you can book a driver to take your place in your car, wherever and whenever you want. Get Driven ensures that travelling time is converted into working time or offers a solution for alcohol use in traffic. In addition to business and entertainment, Get Driven provides tailored fleet solutions for automotive related companies; the efficient movement of car parking for garages, leasing companies, rental companies,….
Cardify makes it fastest business card ever. Via A single physical card allows you to share your contact details with others at lightning speed and enable them, without an app or account, to share their details back with you too. The shared data are automatically processed in the Cardify application or in your CRM system. The recipient can also choose where to store the data. This way you both save tons of time, paper business cards become completely obsolete and you have the most innovative conversation starter.
The Connected Kitchen” tool from F&B TEAM uses artificial intelligence to ensure that a professional kitchen is managed optimally in terms of total cost of ownership. Through an application you have real-time insights into the energy consumption of your professional kitchens, cooking lines, refrigerators or individual appliances. Through this smart application and its analysis dashboard you will be warned about operational misuse of the kitchen appliances or potential technical problems. Maintenance can thus be predicted and, what’s more, you can control the entire operational cost of your professional kitchen. Through their analysis dashboard and audit tool, an action plan and improvement proposals are developed and huge energy savings can be realized.
At TreeSpoke, you design your perfect bespoke bookcase yourself. In the online configurator you can adjust a design completely to your wishes with just a few mouse clicks. For each change, you immediately receive a visualisation in 3D and an appropriate price offer. After ordering, your unique creation will be made by a furniture maker in Belgium and delivered to your home as a kit.
After a long career in business, including more than 10 years in social economy, Kristl De Loose was forced by sudden deafness to look for a new challenge. The result is a special company, one that makes fresh pasta and raviolis to order. PASTATI has above all become a social enterprise where quality, sustainability and social employment are paramount. In order to realize its production, PASTATI has an extensive partnership with the custom company (formerly sheltered workshop) AAROVA in Oudenaarde. Every day they provide the freshest and tastiest pasta and make heavenly ravioli which reaches consumers via shops and restaurants.
Mindspeller, a KU Leuven spin-off, offers advertisers scalable neuromarketing software to optimize brand value. Brands are quantitatively positioned and monitored in a unique network of subconscious associations. That allows the Mindspeller AI to inspire the advertiser with original campaign themes that objectively link the brand to consumers’ implicit goals. In addition, with Copy Optimizer™, Mindspeller offers an innovative text editor that helps copywriters reinforce desired brand associations.
Smooved focuses on demystifying moving in Belgium – the third most stressful change in a person’s life, according to thorough and scientifically based research by HLN. Every year, more than 1 Belgian in 10 moves house , which is about 600,000 moves in total. For these poor souls, they offer a free online one-stop-shop that allows you to arrange all your moving administration at once: energy, telecom, insurance, water levels, moving vans, mail forwarding, etc. All in less than 10 minutes, completely free!
The insurance market in Belgium is far from digital. Barely 5% of policies are underwritten digitally, while in Europe the average is more than 40%. Hopala wants to change this by allowing users to compare, contract and manage insurance in a transparent, fully digital way. Hopala, it’s done.
Affordable Furniture Collection
AFC is an interior design business that gives new life to 2nd hand furniture through it’s webshop and interior services. AFC’s dream is to expand and launch it’s furniture leasing services.
Our Daily Bottle
“I do like to drink wine, but I don’t really know anything about it.” That witticism was the inspiration for Our Daily Bottle, an online wine subscription and webshop that also teaches you a thing or two. Members of the wine club receive a discovery box with 2 wines every month. With fresh marketing and lots of content, Our Daily Bottle brings millennials back a passion for wine and wine culture. They do this through a fully digital experience, lots of humor and brand equity. All wines are carefully selected from all over the world from small family estates.
iRetailCheck develops self-learning Artificial Intelligence image and video analysis technology that enables retailers to work more efficiently, improve margins and increase sales. The iRetailCheck solutions analyze in real-time a wide range of categories – in existing cameras and this both inside and outside – such as suspicious behavior of customers and staff (stealing, manipulating, sweethearting, non-scans, fraud, …) but also objects such as articles, shopping carts, etc.
Brickbook’s goal is for construction companies to always find the right partners to realize construction projects. General contractors can use Brickbook to efficiently find the right subcontractors for all their construction projects. This allows them to save time and potentially improve their margins. In turn, subcontractors can win additional projects and build relationships with new construction partners.
Millions of Nigerian youths struggle in extreme poverty. They need to develop skills that will enable them to find jobs and grow their own businesses. But they are stuck in a struggle to survive on the streets. Humainly’s ecosystem provides them with training through local NGOs. Additionally, they offer them well-paying micro jobs so they can earn enough money to stay in the program. The whole system is self-sustaining through an image annotation crowdsourcing service.
Deskflow is an online all-in-one platform for administrative simplification within your company, at a fixed price per month. Companies with inventory, invoicing or other tracking problems get powerful tools that provide a centralized view on an operational level. Deskflow offers an integrated platform, supplemented with all the functionalities of a powerful ERP package, without the complexity of implementation.
Spoddle is an event sponsorship marketplace that makes it easier to find sponsors for events. Their algorithm also makes it easier for businesses and marketers to discover and identify the right sponsorship opportunities so they can maximize their exposure and ROI. Their goal is to make event sponsorship as easy and calculated as sponsoring social media posts.