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 want to launch a SaaS project (Software as a Service) 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 find out about support, training, communities and potential partners for a successful start in Brussels!
Different support programmes
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 is intended for job seekers and students who have an idea for a digital project and want to implement it. The incubator covers all products, services, social networks, digital platforms, economical or circular projects etc., from idea to prototype, from marketed product to MVP. Bestarter starts with a 10-week intensive digital marketing training. Afterwards, Bestarter offers a 3-month incubation period on the BeCentral digital campus to develop your business. And...it’s free! The main ingredient for success? Motivation!
Training takes place three to four times a year after a selection process.
2. 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 the Google Digital Garage.
3. 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.
4. Idea accelerator
"We are founders" is a nine-month intensive programme to launch your start-up. It provides access to tailored support with a wide range of workshops and personal coaching sessions led by local experts and international mentors. It is free and open to all.
5. Scale-up accelerators
- BEyond supports Belgian scale-ups in their international development. During a 12-month programme, scale-ups are accompanied by a dedicated mentor and industry experts (e.g. in venture capital, HR, marketing, sales and law) and former members of the BEyond network.
- Amplitude+ is an intensive coaching programme for digital start-ups that have demonstrated a good product-market fit and want to move to the next phase of a scale-up . The programme is powered by ICAB and MIC Brussels.
6. AGENCIES, CONSULTANTS AND START-UP STUDIOS
You can also contact an agency or a consultant (don’t forget that subsidies (FR) are available) or join a start-up studio like Startup Factory, eFounders, Lab Box (aaplications in the field of mobility), Make It (multi-sector).
Learn to code
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.
- L'école19 (FR): this coding school offers an innovative education that is completely free and open to all. Its pedagogy is based on peer-to-peer learning: a participative approach that allows students to develop their creativity through project-based learning.
- The Coding Academy at Epitech: lasting 10 or 13 intensive weeks, the Dev&Go course gives you all the tools yoneed to master the basics of web development. After this initial training, students can specialise in full-stack development (Code&Go), front-end development (Web&Go), or DATA/A.I. (Data&Go). An internship of 1 to 3 months concludes the training and represents the first step in the professional world of IT.
- Wild Code School is a leading European technology school offering lifelong learning programmes on more than 20 campuses, including one in Brussels, at a distance or in the company's offices.
- Also check out the website digitalcity.brussels: on this platform you can find all private and public IT courses available for the Brussels-Capital Region.
- Coder Dojo: free programming training for young people 7 to 18 years old.
Communities 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 philanthropic movement from the entrepreneurial world with different backgrounds that in this way wants to make a positive impact
- 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.
- Agoria, the federation that unites almost 2,000 tech companies from the manufacturing industry and the digital and telecom sectors, has a broad network of experts in the Belgian digital industry.
- The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Network brings together different players at https://www.ai4belgium.be/.
- Women should take a look at Girleek and Women in Tech.
- 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.
- Coworking spaces for digital era companies including Be Central, Betacowork Brussels, Co.Station, Start-it, Molengeek and the M-Village business centre. You can find these and many more using the “Who can help me” search engine on this site ("location").
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 organized by Startups.be.
- Meetups: Virtual Reality in Belgium, Artificial Intelligence Brussels, the Belgian Internet of Things community.
- Café Numérique: an international organization of tech entrepreneurs who organize events “between the bar and the conference”.
- Hack Belgium Labs: events with the goal of offering solutions for the most important social issues.
- Women Code Festival: one week to learn new technologies.