Interview with Leo Exter from Hack For Health

Leo Exter talking about Hack For Health

Leo Exter talking about Hack For Health

Have you always wanted to join a startup, but lack a solid, credible idea? Or tired of solving the same problems at hackathons? Hack for Health may be your answer.

On Tech Brew, we’ve spoken a number of times about how much we like weekend startup events. They are fun, safe environments to experiment with ideas, team building, and pitching. If there is a downside to these types of events, it is that a lot of energy can be expended simply producing a viable idea and figuring out the team leadership. So what if you could skip that? Continue reading

Congratulations QwerTeach

So MIC Boostcamp 5, where I was the lead coach, is now over for a few more months.

Congratulations to QwerTeach on winning the Grand Prix.

Thanks also to Andrew who also offered his time to help the Boostcampers.

We’ll be back next week with a full interview of another startup beginning with Q, the digital loyalty card providers, Qustomer.

In the meantime here is a list of the other finalists for you to explore:

And a photo of the 3 prize winning teams.

MIC Boostcamp 5

 

If you can’t find €10 to attend Betagroup, how the f*ck will you finance your business?

As many of you may be aware, BetaGroup recently moved to a pay per event model and an annual subscription model for entrance to the monthly meetups. This is common elsewhere in the world and I’m not arguing the pros and cons of a paid vs free model here. But come on people, if you can’t stump up the price of a pizza to be able to attend an event with several hundred who will be helpful to you in the success of your early stage startup then I don’t see how your venture will ever get off the ground.

You have to work at it a bit, things don;t just fall into your lap, but if you do stand up, speak out and network effectively there you can get any of the following:

  • find team members
  • find suppliers
  • recruit testers
  • get new customers
  • connect with journalists
  • connect with investors
  • widen your network
  • get feedback on your idea from people that have been there
  • free beer
  • grow some ambition
  • get the support of your peers

The current situation is what it is. Sign up and or pay the cash on the door per event. Students go for free.


I am not affiliated with BetaGroup, this is just my personal observation. And I’m interested in seeing how BetaGroup may have to change to offer clear value to paying members.

Tech Brew Interview with UXPro.be

UXPro.be on Tech Brew

UXPro.be on Tech Brew

“You’re always one click away from being uninstalled!”

This is the sobering answer that Paul Davies from UXPro.be gave as to why companies should care about better user experience. If you lose the app user, you lose the direct line that you have with that user that can help build and improve the relationship.

That’s what UXPro.be is all about. The Antwerp based startup gives app developers and owners with the opportunity to continually test and get feedback about the usability of their app. Their tools can be embedded into most apps, allowing you to test in the wild, across a multitude of devices, under real, not lab, conditions.

In this lively interview we discuss lean usability with Jan Moons and Paul Davies, founders of UXPro.be and Andrew gets hot under the collar about the Lufthansa app.

We recommend pairing this episode with Marckloff, brewed at La Ferme au Chene in Durby. Enjoy!

Marckloff Beer from La Ferme au Chene, Durbuy

Marckloff Beer from La Ferme au Chene, Durbuy

Tech Brew Interview with Cheqroom.com

Vincent Theete - Westvleteren 12

Keeping track of inventory is a challenge for any business. If your business is large enough, an investment in asset tracking systems is merited. But for smaller businesses, such systems can be cost prohibitive. Cheqroom aims to fill that need by leveraging smartphones and QR codes.

Vincent Theeten conceived of the idea for Cheqroom when managing the IT assets for a small company in West Flanders. He found there was a lack of affordable tools to accomplish what he needed, so he decided to build one. He combined forces with two other developers to build Bitmunks and built the first version, securing that vital first customer. Continue reading

Tech Brew Interview with Whiteboard

Raf Weverbergh - Cuvee des Trolls

This episode was originally recorded in March 2013. Since then Raf has continued whiteboardmag.com, tech.eu started and Raf created a startup of his own, getmustr.com

If you follow technology startup news, then you are probably familiar with the likes of TechCrunch, ReadWrite and Engadget. Although each provides news about startups around the world, they are heavily focused on the US startup scene. What about providing similar news and opinion sites for Europe? Is there a demand for this type of site? Raf Weverbergh set up Whiteboard to find out. Continue reading

Give me a place to stand

“Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.” – Archimedes, ( bloody ages ago )

Good old Archimedes, always trying to move something. 10 out of 10 for effort, but he would probably have had a lot more success if he’d had a little help from his friends. Continue reading

15 Great Events And Groups To Join This Autumn

There’s an impressive array of events happening over the next few weeks in Belgium. If you’re looking for ideas or team members for your startup they are a great place to network and move things forward. If you’re already working on an idea … don’t go to too many events. Stay focused on your idea. Pick wisely.

If you can’t make it to any of these events, check out the list of meetup groups below. They may have something for you.

20-22/09/2013Hack for Health, Genk Join a team working all weekend to help solve problems in healthcare.

BetaGroup on 24 September and October 22 If you don’t know BetaGroup, where have you been ;-)

30/09/2013The Lean Entrepreneur Day with Brant Cooper, Brussels One day workshop followed by a public conference in the evening.

30/09/2013BizCamp #9, Roeselare (18.30 – 22.00) Come along and give a presentation about something you have learned. NO SALES pitches!

04-06/10/2013CoEntrepreneur Weekend Mons First in a series of 3 this year. Startup Weekend format.

17/10/2013Running Lean Workshop with Ash Maurya, Brussels One day workshop with the author or Running Lean.

18-19/10/2013Apps for Energy, Kontich Weekend hackathon for energy related apps.

Recommended Meetup Groups

One of the best ways to keep up to date and learn new skills is to get out and learn from your peers. There’s a pretty solid network of meetup groups in Belgium now. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but I have attended all of these groups and run one of them ( WordPress ) and can recommend them all.

I’ve tried to put together a blend of tech, business and a few things in between.

  1. Brussels WordPress Meetup
  2. Content Strategy Meetup Belgium
  3. Elastic Search User Group – BeLux
  4. Finance For Statups
  5. Laravel Meetup
  6. Lean Startup Circle Brussels
  7. UX Antwerp

As well as new members, any meetup group is always looking for:

  • sponsorship to pay for food and drink
  • sponsorship for a venue or access to a regular venue where they can hold their meetups
  • speakers

If your company is aligned with any of these groups and can help, they’re always happy to hear from potential sponsors and speakers.

So join a group, wrap up warm and get out and about in your community this Autumn.

Quick update

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Please excuse our appearance, we’re having a bit of a redesign in the wild.
Things will be back to normal after the weekend.

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Hi listeners. I hope you all had a great Easter break. Andrew is still away in Borneo taking a well deserved break and I’m about to publish 2 more episodes that we recorded before he left. The first is with the inimitable, Raf Weverbergh of Whiteboard Magazine, the other with the “about to crack America”, Vincent Theeten of Cheqroom.

But before that, a few of announcements.

First of all, congratulations to Yambla for winning the Microsoft BoostBamp. We interviewed them in our last episode, so if you don’t know what they do, check it out and find out what winners sound like.

Secondly, there will be a half day workshop on April 17th at the ICAB on Rapid Paper Prototyping. Early bird ticket have sold out, but there are a few tickets left and you can get 10€ off with the code TECHBREW. If you’re building any kind of digital product, come along, it’ll save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Full workshop details here. Tickets here.

And finally, there are two new local Startup Weekends on the near horizon. You’ll have to make a choice though as they are both on the same weekend of May 24-26. You’ll find full details on their respective web sites:

Brussels http://bit.ly/raSeTE

Luxembourg http://bit.ly/R72Yj1

Meet Gianugo Rabellino, Senior Director of Open Source Communities at Microsoft and member of the Apache Foundation

Open Source and Microsoft aren’t two phrases you’d naturally place in the same category, unless you’d been watching Microsoft closely over the past few years. But this Wednesday March 13th. 15.00 – 17.00, you’ll have the opportunity meet a key figure in the Open Source community who works at Microsoft.

Gianugo Rabellino, Senior Director of Open Source Communities at Microsoft will give a talk entitled,

OPENING UP OPPORTUNITIES FOR STARTUPS AND SMALL BUSINESSES 

He has been an active member of the Apache Software Foundation since 1999, has a deep understanding of Open Source technologies and platforms and more than 20 years’ experience in the Open Source community including creating the first official Linux association in Italy.

He’ll talk about successfully running a startup or small business, give tips on making technology decision, creating interoperable  systems, using the cloud and making money.

The presentation will be followed by a session of Q&A and a cocktail. Come ready with your questions.

Venue: ICAB – Madera Room 4, rue des Pères Blancs, 1040 Brussels http://goo.gl/maps/Z97HQ

To register, please send an email to Raymonde Gyssels at rgy@abe.irisnet.be

The event is organised by The Software in Brussels cluster, in partnership with the Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels.

 

Tech Brew Interview with Yambla.com

IMG_3575

Traditional organisations are managed from the top-down: management defines the vision, the  strategy to attain the vision, and (hopefully) aligns the company to deliver on the strategy. But even great leaders can’t know everything: there is tremendous knowledge and experience to be found throughout the company. The trick is how to tap into this resource. One way is via Yambla.com.

Started 6 months ago by Yoeri Roels and Jordan Vermeir, Yambla is their answer to promoting ideas through organisations. As employees at their previous company, they were frustrated with the challenges they encountered trying to get their ideas heard. Promoting an idea from the bottom-up is filled with challenges: first you have to convince your boss it is a good idea. Then your boss has to also be convinced he won’t lose credibility if he takes it further. Repeat until the idea gets to the CEO, if it survives. It’s like struggling up a steep hill, in the snow, with ninjas attacking you along the way!

Organisational entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship, appears to be a growing trend: have you noticed any job advertisements requesting people who are entrepreneurial? A quick search of ‘entrepreneurship’ on Monster.com brings up 1000+ results. However, making entrepreneurship work in a large company is not trivial.

There are two factors without which [intrapreneurship] can’t get off the ground:

  1. Encouragement and support from senior management
  2. Reassurance that even if the ideas fail the intrapreneur will not lose his or her job or be “punished” in other ways

(Ernst & Young. Igniting Innovation: How hot companies fuel growth from within. Nov 3, 2010)

Yoeri & Jordan

Which brings us back to Yambla.com. The idea behind Yambla is to make the process of generating ideas in a company a social and collaborative experience. Before you pitch your idea to your boss, you use Yambla to gain support from your peers.

First you post your idea, somewhat like a Facebook status message. Your post is then shared with one or more Super Awesome Ovals (circles) of peers, each of whom could be from your department or from a cross-functional group. Each person is able to comment and like the post, demonstrating their support for the post and helping to refine it. Once the idea has enough support, it is automatically promoted to the next level in the organization, your manager. But in this case, you have the support of your peers.

Of course there is much more to Yambla.com, but it looks like a powerful tool for organisations who are seeking new ideas or want to engender a culture of innovation. However, it will only work if the company – and management team – embrace the process and actually take the ideas seriously.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Yambla, how they started, their steep learning curve, and who they admire. We paired this interview with a Chimay Cent Cinquante, a smooth beer brewed last year for Chimay’s 150th anniversary. If you can’t find it, try a Chimay Rouge instead.

Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to check out our calendar for upcoming events in Belgium.

Tech Brew Interview with BetterStreet.org

IMG_3497Welcome to 2013 and our first podcast of the year! Last year was full of passionate people pursuing their ideas and this year promises no less! We kick off the year interviewing the winner of Startup Weekend Liège, Jean-Marc Poncelet, about his company, BetterStreet.org.

Last year Belgium hosted two Startup Weekends, one in Mons and the other in Liège. We were able to join the teams in Mons for a day and posted some videos, but we were not able to make it to Liège. So we asked Jean-Marc to come to us instead.

When Jean-Marc set out for the Startup Weekend he had no real expectations for the event, just that he wanted to try something different. During the pitch night, he found two others who wanted to improve the appearance of their local neighborhoods, an idea which resonated with Jean-Marc. Months earlier, Jean-Marc started photographing problems in his neighborhood and uploading them to Twitter and Facebook. Continue reading