Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Thank you Jean !


Yesterday was a bitter-sweet night for all of us. On one part we had the first demo day of the Betagroup, with almost 1200 signups and over 700 attendees. The place was packed and the startups doing the demos where very busy pitching.

At the same time Leo Exter was running a Betainvest event upstairs, with 30 investors an 10 startups pitching for funds.

And then Jean dropped the bomb

Jean Derely got on an improvised stage to thank the sponsors and go through all the things that have happened in the last 4 years, and then proceeded to drop the bomb: Jean will no longer run the Betagroup.

I cannot say it was a surprise for me or the other members of the Betagroup team (we had been working on his decision for about a month), but it was still a sad moment for me.

The impact of Jean Derely and the Betagroup


Without Jean and the Betagroup I would have never become who I am in Brussels and the startup ecosystem. I don’t think I would even be the same person, nor have reached my current level of happiness. If I’ve ended up organizing so many events and opening a coworking space in Brussels it is part thanks to Jean, to his motivation and to the vibe he’s managed to transmit. He’s sparked the will to organize things and to make them happen in a lot of us; he’s promoted and helped numerous events and groups to get going, to launch and to do what they love; he’s shown the example to follow, doing what we love, working hard, making it happen.

Jean is the heart and soul of our tech startup ecosystem. He’s not the only one that has created or is running events to promote tech entrepreneurship in Belgium, but he’s had the biggest impact of all. Jean has always focused on bringing value to the startups and obsessed about making things happen, with his own money and with his work to raise funding for the Betagroup, to provide for all those free events for entrepreneurs and professionals.

I still remember when I discovered the Betagroup and before attended my first event (number 3 of 37 so far, without counting all the seminars, workshops and conferences) I contacted Juanito who was running a Hispanic social network in the USA and had moved back to Belgium. He wanted to have an American style event to shake things a little and meet other like minded people. With the help of some of his friends he started setting up a dinner to discuss it and then moved to the ULB to host a growing community. I think that back then we were 80 or so, but for the next event it was already 100 and it has kept on growing. Today there are over 5500 people in our community of tech startup lovers. Thanks to Jean we are changing the world, starting with Brussels.

Why Jean is stepping down

The Betagroup has always strived to help startups grow, and one of its successes is Woorank, Jean’s own startup. In the last two years Boris Demaria and have grown Woorank into a profitable business, without external capital and to a 13 person strong team. He’s managed to turn his own dream into a reality. Woorank is growing fast and Jean needs to concentrate on this opportunity. 

What changes for you


The Betagroup will continue on operating just like it does now. I’ve taken over most of Jean’s role running the Betagroup and will be working with two great people that have already proven their value, namely Julie Foulon and Leo Exter

Julie will continue organizing the big events of the Betagroups, our pitch slams and demo days.

Leo will continue running the Betainvest, our investor club where we try to help investors and startups meet each other and heat up the market.

I will continue running the coworking space and will be more involved in the running of the Betagroup together with the other founders of the non-profit: Olivier Belenger and Julien Meganck

Jean has made sure that his parting did not hinder the Betagroup.

What you should do

Send Jean a message, by email, Twitter, blog, sms, through the Betagroup’s contact form, by post, in person when you see him… No matter how, but tell him about the positive impact he’s had on you, your company, your community. Thank him for this 4 years of hard work and support. It is the least we can do.

Organize your own event or join the organization of an existing event. We build the ecosystem together. The more you participate the better, bigger and useful it gets. Let’s make sure that no matter who moves along with life the ecosystem keeps on growing and growing faster all the time.

Thank you Jean !

With all my heart.

The Artist: lessons for entrepreneurs (don’t do as The Muppets do)


I’m on a plane, on my way to Austin for SXSW and the Global Coworking Unconference, enjoying the great service onboard a United Airlines flight. One of the movies playing is The Artist, starring Jean Dujardin, a film you should absolutely watch. Being as biased as I am towards startups and entrepreneurship, I could not help think that there are plenty of lessons and similitudes between the life of the stars and those of entrepreneurs. Or maybe it is because I was reading The Four Steps to the Epiphany that I saw in it a metaphore of entrepreneurship.

You never know who’s gonna be who or where you are going to end

Don’t treat those that are not yet somebody with disrespect. Even when I worked in public affairs this was a must. You never know where people are going to be at next. You cannot know everything about everybody, specially of those that you just met or haven’t had the time to get acquainted yet. Today’s trainnee, junior employee or young entrepreneur could be tomorrow’s big thing, not in the long time. Treat everybody with respect no matter what their status is. Respect fosters relationships and collaboration

Your network is always being built

Yes, your network is always being built, even when you are not aware of it. You are not conscious of everything that goes on around you, so remember point nº1 and keep on working hard. Even somebody you did not expect may end up helping you or giving you a lead, and the more you are out there working with people and giving your help, the more good that will come back to you.

You will fall & raise

High or low, you are going to fall and raise. Life comes around. Failure does not terminate you. All you have to do is get back in your feet, learn from the experience, and try to get something positive out of it. Even if you are just a shadow of old successful self, you are still you. 

Life is ciclycal, and the life of an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster, emotionally and in terms of success. Luckily most of it will be positive, even in hardship. 

Entrepreneurship is not a tragedy

A film can be dramatic, life shouldn’t. Even if you crash you should keep in mind and your heart the most important things: your loved ones and friends. Your work should not isolate you from your loved ones: don’t let your company push them aside.

Acohol and drugs only make things worst


And you know it. They’ve never helped anybody think clearer. All they do is push you towards inaction, depression and stupid decisions. They don’t replace guts and your brains and will not add anything good to your business.

If you think you need alcohol to do anything in life, anything, you are an alcoholic, get help. 


Don’t do as The Muppets 


The wrong movie lessons came by the hand of The Muppets, with Peggy’s use of violence to solve problems and the last minute no effort miraculous salvation moment. Silver bullets only exist in business fiction and the minds of some consulting clients.

The good news

The good news is that after the worst of hardships, even if it is not obvious you can succeed thanks to your work and persistence.

Who would have ever thought that a black & white silent movie could be made, enjoyable, watched, and praised in the 21st century?.

Success is in the heart of the entrepreneur, not just in numbers.

Interview about the Founder Institute in Tech Brew Podcast [Audio]

Tech Brew Episode 004 ??? Ram??n Su??rez from the Founder Institute

In episode #4 of Tech Brew, we drink Chimay Bleu, one of the six Belgian Trappist beers, and Gilbert chats with Ram??n Su??rez about the Founder Institute.

The Founder Institute is an intensive 4 month program designed to help someone with a business idea turn it into a reality. The goal is to provide a ???network of startups and mentors that helps entrepreneurs launch meaningful and enduring technology companies.??? This is not just a series of workshops, but is a hands-on, practical course which expects each participant to build their company. As Ramon says, it is a ???reality check??? for a lot of would-be entrepreneurs.

Helping the participants along the way are experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders, brought in from all over the world to share their knowledge and provide guidance. Participants themselves are motivated to help each other through the program???s ???Bonus Pool???. In order to join the Founder Institute, each participant must give up a small percentage of their business which goes into this pool. As each new company succeeds, everyone gets a share of the success.

There are a lot of smart people with good ideas in Belgium, but turning an idea into a business is not a skill you learn in public school. Take some time, listen to our interview with Ramon, and then check out the Founder Institute. If you sign up before September 11th, the test fee (???40) will be waived.


Always a pleasure :)

How Do I Become a Member of the Betagroup [Sign-Up]


Some people have asked me what do they have to do to sign-up to the Betagroup and become a member. Easy! It is free and simple: you just have to signup to one of the events, to the Linkedin group or to the newsletter box in the Betagroup’s website. That way you will be updated of all the events coming up and you can take advantage of the special offers for its members.

Entrepreneurship & Coworking: Interviews by Fred Ooms

Fred Ooms has just finished publishing the interview we had a couple months ago. It was really nice to have some time to talk entrepreneurship with somebody like Fred, alumnus of MBA Solvay like myself, and also working with a university to try to bring part of their research knowledge and patents to market. We just set up a video call and got the interview rolling. Nice, lean and true. In his blog you can find a great selection of entrepreneurship video interviews.

Think less, do more

Raising money and the role of the business plan

Internet marketing for your company

How we launched the Betagroup Coworking Brussels

Check out the Betagroup Coworking Brussels (#betacowork) :)

Founder Institute Grads: 77% Progressing Faster than Planned

Charts of Founder Institute Age Analysis
Age of All Founder Institute Applicants Accuracy of Founder Institute Predictive Testing
Success of Founder Institute Grads Age of Founder Institute Grads

Adeo wrotte a great article on TechCrunch about why it is nonsense to say that entrepreneurs peak at 25.

He included this four charts with stats about the Founder Institute’s participants that are quite interesting.

  • Allmost all participants are over 25 years old
  • 77% of the graduated companies are progressing ahead of their plan
  • This last point stresses what I like the most about the Founder Institute: it is about doing. There’s no better place to help you transform your idea into a company in just 4 months.