The Startups.be delegation that visited TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in September certainly stood out from the crowd. What were the most important lessons the Belgians learned in the city by the bay? The top lessons learned were that they have to think BIG, and that everybody’ s doing business at the speed of light in Silicon Valley.
(Author: Frederik Tibau, Startups.be / Image Credit: Startups.be)
TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco must be the complete opposite of Web Summit in Europe. Being a relatively small (and rather expensive) event, Disrupt still manages to attract a very interesting and highly selective mix of entrepreneurs, developers, investors and journalists from all over the globe.
One of the advantages of the small scale of Disrupt is that the startups that present actually get all of the attention they deserve. That was certainly the case for the Belgian companies that made the trip to San Francisco and pitched at the Belgian Startups.be booth.
Our delegation didn’t exactly win the startup competition during Disrupt (maybe next year, never say never ;-)), but ‘team Belgium’ did win the hearts and minds of the press, the investors and other interesting people.
“Although we only had a booth for one day, it was most certainly a rewarding experience,” confirms Peter Ryckaert, the founder of Crowdbeamer. “We’ve been approached by several large companies expressing their interest in our solution. Firms such as Merck, Toyota and Bosch are only a few of the contacts we made during the event.”
“Visitors at our booth were always very relevant to our business,” adds Peter Wellens from Chestnote. “We had a promising chat with the marketing manager of Universal – who’ s interested in using Chestnote to announce big movie releases – and we were able to talk about Chestnote with tech heavyweights like Scott Belsky from Benchmark Capital and Aya Zook from Microsoft Ventures. An amazing and inspiring experience indeed!”
Unique Belgian startup cocktail
“What we also noticed is that the Belgian tech companies are completely ‘on par’ with their American counterparts, certainly when you look at things on a technical level,” says Wouter Vandenneucker from Cr3do.
Think big, and don’t be too humble, even if you’re small. Get others to believe you’re big, and you’ll become it.
“It’s not that our international competitors have better technology or better ideas. After our visit to TechCrunch Disrupt and to San Francisco, I’m more convinced than ever that – also in Belgium – we have a unique startup cocktail that can work.”
Vandenneucker: “San Francisco is known throughout the world as a place where key insights are being shared within the startup community. And that’ s one of the things we take away from this trip: as a startup, we’ re part of an ecosystem. An ecosystem that can only thrive when we stand together and provide value for each other. That’ s exactly what initiatives like Startups.be, StartIT@KBC and Corda Campus stand for and aim to accomplish.”
Our startups also learned that doing business in the US goes really fast. One day before the TC Disrupt kickoff, the EventPulse team randomly met a big shot American entrepreneur at a bar in Las Vegas. Two days later, that man flew to San Francisco to have a meeting with founder Jan Vanderhasselt and examine in what way his event-platform could be used for the 2020 Expo in Dubai.
“When in America, always assume a positive intent when you talk to people. And also, while doing business,” affirmed lawyer Pieter Gunst from Legal.io, who lives in San Francisco. Another key element that Wim Sohier of Flanders Investment & Trade stressed, is something that every American learns during childhood: “Think big, and don’t be too humble, even if you’re small. Get others to believe you’re big, and you’ll become it.”
This article was first published in SILICON