Ay ay ay ay ay. So Jean Derely is stepping down from BetaGroup.
Ramón Suárez, the new “face” of the BetaGroup wrote a very fitting tribute to the well loved Jean, Thank You Jean
But while it was maybe a shock for some people to hear that Jean was leaving, the people now running the BetaGroup have always been deeply involved in it’s organisation anyway so it’s not that big a switch.
I think the BetaGroup format is great. It’s a social gathering of the Belgian startup tribes. I’d hate to see the format change too much, but I do think there is scope for some improvement. And now, in light of the change of guard and the new year approaching is probably best the time to reflect upon some tweaks. Here are my thoughts. Chime in on the comments if you have your own.
I’ve been attending since BetaGroup 4 so I’ve seen a lot of these events. Please, please, please keep the lecture hall/auditorium format. It works. There’s just something about “being back at school” that settles an audience and ensures that we can hear the presentations. Often when the BetaGroup has moved away from the format to a special event it’s difficult to hear the presentations as half the people drift off to the bar because they cannot see the stage. I don’t care if it’s the ULB, VUB or some other venue, but the lecture hall layout of the room definitely works.
I’d suggest reducing the number of presenters. It gives more time to question them after their 5 minute presentation.
Audience questions are great and I’m always itching to ask questions, but have you considered having a small panel of investors/relevant experts to do the questioning first? You have the connections, some of them are in the audience anyway and it’s good profile for them. They watch pitches all the time so they can usually cut to the core of the problems the startup may face. Many startups will face this kind of questioning at some stage in their development, so getting used to it sooner rather than later might save months of going down a blind alley. It’s also useful for the audience to hear challenging questions from investors.
If you’re not keen to reduce the number of presenters then you could actually increase the number of slots to seven. Four startups with 20 minute slots and three startups with a one minute pitch just before opening up the live tweets to everyone.
You still need to leave room for audience questions, but perhaps these could be gathered via tweets and asked by the host after the investor panel? This also let’s the presenter followup after the presentation and builds a conversation.
“Would you invest your own money?” – This works really well. I don’t care whether or not it’s a scientific measure. It’s fun.
Maybe structure the live tweets in to categories. “Does anyone have a job to offer”, jobs first. “Does anyone have an event to promote?”, events next then open the floodgates to all the other randomness of life.
Please record and publish each session. If the group continues to grow, you’ll need overspill. Your options are live streaming at alternative venues such as coworking spaces, but it’s probably easier just to record the sessions and distribute them via YouTube.
So that’s my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.
Who better to sum it all up than the master, Barry White, singing his heart out in Gent. Onwards and upwards BetaGroup. x
WATCH TO THE END!