The cohort of entrepreneurs who began the Start-up Masterclass back in september, have made a lot of progress, growing from green starters to seasoned entrepreneurs, learning a lot along the way. Last week, they graduated, and all the experts and mentors who had helped them along the way were there to watch it happen. Everyone was so proud. But what did they learn through the process? We sat down with Maarten Van De Vondel of Bloovi Careers and Michiel Van Meervenne to get their assessment.
Learning the right stuff for each stage of development
Maarten and Michael were already working for their own startups when they applied to the Start-up Masterclass. “I found it interesting that this was a way to get skills and knowledge for different stages in the life of a startup”, Michiel begins. “Truth be told, I already knew a lot of what they taught during the team-founding webinar, but I did learn a lot from the webinars on raising capital and funding. I got a better idea of the possibilities and the path I should be following. There’s so much to read about that online, and everyone has their own opinion. But getting this information from a specialist, in a proper learning environment, that’s something else and much more valuable.”
Maarten responds by explaining what it was that he learned the most. “It’s definitely the part of product market fit, a webinar run by Omar Mohout. This was very relevant for me, as Bloovi Careers is currently still trying to find product market fit”, he explains. I liked how the webinar was really concrete, and how it brought the subject back to the issue of testing, adapting and testing again. So now, I’m putting it all into practice!”
Another important part of running a startup is PR and communications. As Michiel participated in the session hosted by Raf Weverbergh, he realized that, as a startup, you basically live on a deserted island. “You’re very focused on your own idea and executing on it, which can ultimately result in a tunnel vision”, he says. “But a big part of execution is also about communicating your idea to the market. If you miss out on that, having a great idea is pretty much useless. I learned a lot how to get other people excited about my startup.”
One of the many reasons why founder Robin Geers began the Start-up Masterclass is to connect like-minded entrepreneurs. Mission accomplished! In addition to the offline events where participants got to know each other, there was also a private LinkedIn and Facebook Group.
“And now, the entrepreneurs I met are part of my personal network. I know I can call them whenever I want."
“First and foremost, it’s very psychologically important for founders to know we’re not facing the classic startup challenges on your own”, Michiel says. “By meeting the other entrepreneurs, I got to see things from a different perspective.”
“Each founder has his or her own rollercoaster story to tell”, Maarten agrees. “That’s the bottom line. But everyone deals with problems and challenges their own way, which was inspiring to hear. If things go wrong one day, I know that I can tackle them, which is a big relief.”
“And of course, there’s the experts we got to meet at the events”, Michiel adds. “The mentors behind the webinars, we were able to meet and mingle in real life, and I’ve got to say they give you the urge to start experimenting right away!”
“And now, the entrepreneurs I met are part of my personal network. I know I can call them whenever I want, whether it’s with a major startup problem, or just to chat”, Maarten says.
Michiel and Maarten are both ready for the next step. “I know that success won’t fall from the sky, I’m the one who has to make it happen”, Maarten nods. “Being an entrepreneur means a lot of challenges and battles, and I’m totally ready for it now!”
“I feel like I know have the tools to analyze and measure success in different ways”, Michiel says. “The Start-up Masterclass helped us become more flexible. And after all: that’s what running a startup is all about, right?”
Written by Magali De Reu - Freelance Copywriter & Storyteller (Copymag)