Start it @ KBC: Offering and measuring support across an emerging ecosystem
Start it @KBC was created in 2014. It offers a free (no equity & no fees) programme (12-18 months) to startups (from ideation to scaleup) who can demonstrate an ability to innovate & have potential for high growth. We are supported by partners within specific industries. Their support made us scale quickly.
The programme: mentorship from volunteers, workshops from highly recommended experts, connections to potential customers & free office space during the programme with a community
Our aim is to boost entrepreneurship and support the economy through the creation of revenue and jobs and stable growth of the startups. We accept a large number of startups in every cohort with the intention to not just take a bet on the business plans that might reach the highest scale, but to invite them into the programme alongside other ‘lesser-high growth potential businesses’ who we know have a strong team, concept and traction to prove that they will create a successful, stable business.
We are still working on our data capture method that will give us a better picture of the on-going successes of the startups in comparison to the data that we captured at the beginning of the programme. Due to our volume, we had to learn how to capture data differently as smaller programmes and those that take equity and can use the shareholders agreement to ensure that they can collect data.
We know that we need in excess of €800,000 sponsorship per year to continue the programme but this is not including much of the in-kind support. We have not had the opportunity to make this calculation yet. We have 11 staff on payroll, and several of these salaries are covered by a sponsor partner.
Evidence of success
Our particular success is built on the support of strategic partners who offer mentors, workshop speakers and free resources f.e. free legal advice to the startups and to us; free office space, … in return for their being part of the largest network of startups in Belgium. We engage parties throughout the Belgian startup and innovation ecosystem and work with many other incubators, accelerators & support providers in Belgium who believe in our aims & our way of running a programme.
We only had connections to small programmes where staff can fill in reporting tools with startups and didn't learn how to capture data in big incubators. Not collecting these data from the beginning and the enormous success of our programme makes us still look for the right method to capture them.
Potential for learning or transfer
We have tried several surveying methods because since we do not hold an equity stake in the startups which we support, we find that startups do not feel a duty to provide data. We can pass on the knowledge that for large programmes or those looking to measure large numbers of businesses it is best to focus on 1 data gathering point per year.
We started without a proper CRM but learned that in order to scale efficiently, we needed to invest our time and money into finding a solution that would also suit our business when the community is much larger.