Last modified:Wednesday 7 April 2021
Are you planning to become a digital world entrepreneur and take advantage of the infinite potential, but don’t know where to start? Do you have the Internet idea of the century but don’t know a thing about coding? Or, on the contrary, are you a tech wiz, but don’t have a clue about sales or marketing? Don't panic. You’re not alone. Follow the guide to explore golden support, training, community and advice options and hit the ground running!
VALIDATE AND DEVELOP YOUR IDEA THANKS TO A SUPPORT PROGRAMME
In the beginning, is… the business plan. Before plunging eyes closed into developing your digital platform or application, save time and money by first validating the potential market for your product or service and the potential profitability of your company. This is the purpose of the Minimum Viable Product, a prototype to measure customer interest. The best approach for this validation and start-up phase is to get support.
- BESTARTER: THE SCHOOL FOR ENTREPRENEURS
BeStarter is intended for job seekers and students who have an idea for a digital project and want to implement it. The programme is based on Lean methodology and Active Learning to develop an idea step-by-step from concept to sale. Training lasts three months at the BeCentral Digital Campus. And...it’s free! The main ingredient for success? Motivation!
Training takes place three to four times a year after a selection process.
- MIC: MICROSOFT INNOVATION CENTER
The Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels offers a “Boostcamp” to help IT companies and projects develop their business. Depending on your project's maturity, you will be able to take a MOOC, pitch your idea or be selected for a week of intensive coaching. For more information go to http://www.mic-brussels.be.
- GOOGLE DIGITAL WORKSHOP
Develop new digital universe skills thanks to flexible training and tools that will help you optimise your performance. You can take online courses or sign up for live workshops. Take a look at the full programme at https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/atelierdigital-be (FR).
- GENERAL SUPPORT TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR
You can also contact a general support organisation in Brussels either to meet with an advisor or to take a workshop-based course. Be sure to mention that it’s for a digital project so that you can meet with the most expert advisor in that field.
Some organisations offer free support: the five Local Economy Offices, Iles and Microstart. Others bill certain services or work on a membership basis: UNIZO (€150), BECI (membership), ICHEC PME, Solvay Entrepreneur, Start it and Virtuology Academy. For women only: Credal. Once you've created your company, don’t hesitate to contact the Réseau entreprendre to benefit from the support of experienced entrepreneurs.
- AGENCIES, CONSULTANTS AND START-UP STUDIOS
EXPLORE 2.0 IN DEPTH BY BECOMING A WEB DEVELOPER
If you’re not afraid of binary and you dream of becoming a Geek for good, there are a number of schools you can attend to learn to code. Here are few options:
- Be Code: free one-year training in day classes to become a web & mobile developer. You will be selected based on your motivation and your level of interest in web technologies.
- Le Wagon: intensive nine-week bootcamp to learn to code. Classes are in English in Brussels and cost €6,000 (August 2019 price).
- MolenGeek coding school: this start-up incubator based in Molenbeek offers digital career courses for young people between the ages of 18 and 25.
- Coder Dojo: free programming training for young people 7 to 18 years old. (You’re really never too young to start learning to code :-)
CONQUER THE DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM AND JOIN A COMMUNITY OF ENTREPRENEURS
It isn’t easy to find your way alone in the digital jungle. A piece of advice? Surround yourself and benefit from shared experience, new knowledge and, who knows, fruitful partnerships. All will provide a boost to help you implement your project! Here is a selection of tech entrepreneur communities:
- Startups.be: an organisation that brings together tech entrepreneurs to provide them with simplified access to investors, customers and experts.
- BeTech: a Facebook group that brings together the Belgian tech entrepreneur community.
- Fédération des Métiers du Web: Feweb
- Software.brussels: a rapidly growing cluster of software companies. Members can benefit from support (notably for internationalisation), networking and visibility programmes.
- Women should take a look at Girleek and Women in Tech.
And why not opt for a professional, dynamic and connected professional environment like an incubator or enterprise centre?
- Icab: an incubator that hosts and supports entrepreneurs who want to create a company in the technology sector (information and communication).
- Eebic: an incubator which offers coworking, support services and assistance to obtain financing.
- DigitYser: a meeting, exchange and training centre for new technologies (virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things).
- Coworking spaces for digital era companies including Be Central, Beta Betacowork Coworking Brussels, Co.Station, Start-it, Molengeek and the M-Village company centre. You can find these and many more using the “Qui peut m’aider” search engine on this site ("localisation").
Lastly, keep looking for ways to meet people and for the many events throughout the year:
- Digital First: one of the largest meetings of the digital age in Belgium (150 conferences and over 64,000 visitors).
- The BIG squeeze: a digital entrepreneurship conference organised by Startups.be.
- Meetups: Virtual Reality in Belgium, Artificial Intelligence Brussels, the Belgian Internet of Things community.
- Café Numérique: an international organisation of tech entrepreneurs who organise events “between the bar and the conference”.
- Hack Belgium: annual innovation festival with the goal of offering solutions for the most important social issues.
- Women Code Festival: one week to learn new technologies.
IN CONCLUSION, THE THREE TIPS FROM BESTARTER TO MAXIMISE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS:
MOTIVATION, ONCE YOU GET A HOLD OF US!
Entrepreneurship is first and foremost a state of mind: “I want succeed and I’m going to put everything in place to be successful”. Some entrepreneurs will succeed on the first try, but many others will have to overcome some obstacles. That’s part of the journey to success...Don’t give up!
SELL BEFORE DEVELOPING
One of the main causes of start-up failure (FR) is the marketplace: developing a product that doesn’t meet a real need and failing to make it evolve with customers. That’s why the market study and the test phase are crucial. The goal is to quickly test the product in the marketplace (using Minimum Viable Product) to evaluate the potential and adapt/pivot if necessary.
SURROUND YOURSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN
Accelerators, incubators, mentors and communities (FR)… You can get great advice from many different sources: take advantage!
May the digital power be with you :-)
Interview source Leopold Colson, BeStarter