Same same for every starter: you sweat to create your product, your marketing and your funding. But in the meantime, you still have to find time to build a network and gain knowledge. This is where The Big Squeeze comes in, with their second edition on 12 November. Startups.be and Scale-Ups.eu invite relevant players to meet up and learn from each other, all in the course of one day.
With The Big Squeeze, Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu wants to change the whole approach towards start-ups: nobody should figure it all out on their own. “Our event really runs on the ‘squeeze time’ principle: by meeting the right people in the same place and at the same moment, you lose less time,” explains Charlotte Gréant, general manager of Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu. “You meet potential partners there, such as service providers, accelerators and incubators, but also founders who can relate because they’re in that same boat as you. We bring all the knowledge together, as time is precious to every starter.”
Dimitri De Boose from Bsit agrees that the event works. Bsit, the app that helps parents find a babysitter for their kids, won the award for ‘Startup of the Year’ during the first edition of The Big Squeeze. An important trophy for De Boose and his team. “With our app, we ventured into childcare, which is a world where you have to gain loads of trust,” says De Boose. “Thanks to the award, we could bolster faith in our customers that the product is truly reliable. Naturally, it was also a great encouragement for the team. This really gave us a boost.”
Gréant adds that such an award not only gives a stimulus to the winning company, but to other start-ups as well. “Bsit is an example for other starters. They see how the company evolved and they learn from it. What we want to achieve with The Big Squeeze, is that starters learn from each other, not just by themselves.”
Challenges and pitfalls
De Boose launched Bsit with a few partners about five years ago. “We were all parents. We all needed a babysitter once in a while, but we didn't always manage. That's how Bsit was born,” he explains. Initially Bsit only went live in Brussels, but in the meantime the team has expanded the app to the whole of Belgium and Luxembourg. “Now we are taking our baby steps in France.”
It’s a long way to the top for any company, but staying put is never easy either. “In every phase of your start-up, you run into new issues,” says De Boose. “At first you have to work out the product, investigate the market and appeal to investors. Today, we are going international, and that brings new challenges and pitfalls. We now realise that it's not easy to start something in a large country that's not ours, because we need to build a complete network over there as well.”
Gréant agrees that young companies constantly face new challenges. “Even if you are well settled in your own country. Once you go abroad, you start from scratch again. That's why we organised a day trip to Paris in January, to join start-ups and scale-ups from Belgium with French investors. They could start to create a network outside of our country.” The Big Squeeze will also feature guest speakers who, like Bsit, have already taken the leap abroad. “They will be happy to tell the newbies how it went for them,” says Gréant. There will also be expert speakers who know their way around internationalisation. For starters who dream of the US or China, the talks of Catalina Daniels and Pascal Coppens are a must-see.
Build that network
You know it: a good network is indispensable. De Boose notes that this has already become easier for start-ups in recent years—not least thanks to events such as The Big Squeeze. “I think start-ups now have more opportunities than they did about five years ago, when we started Bsit.” Gréant also sees a positive evolution there. “Every company wants to work with a start-up today. That's exactly why we only focus on start-ups during our event. It allows us to zoom in, to give tips & tricks that are truly relevant and provide the right guidance so that the start-ups can grow fast.”
Using the network of Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu and speaking to experts who’ve been there themselves, that’s a blessing for many startups. Things become even better when you can make contact with investors. “I hit up with two investors at the first edition last year,” says De Boose. “I wouldn’t need another reason to go.”
Heart and soul
Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu organises more events for start-ups and scale-ups throughout the year. This is important, says Gréant, to put our country on the map in the field of technology. “We Belgians are too humble about our achievements,” she says. “All those young people invest their hearts and souls into their companies and our events want to honour them for it.” Gréant sees active supporters in the organisers of Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu. “We just love to put young companies in the spotlight and give them the platform they deserve.”