the entrepreneur awards

The Entrepreneur Awards

[NL]
In het Diamant Center Brussels had op 12 mei 2016, voor een publiek van nagenoeg driehonderd genodigden, de prijsuitreiking plaats van The Entrepreneur Awards of the Year 2016. Dit is een organisatie van TOP MANAGEMENT en ANGEL.ME. Het prestigieuze karakter van de avond werd nog extra benadrukt door de aanwezigheid van Jan Jambon, Vice-premier en Minister van binnenlandse zaken en veiligheid.

Voorafgaand aan de uitreiking van de prijzen, benadrukte de minister de noodzaak aan een sterk ondernemerschap om een antwoord te kunnen bieden aan de uitdagingen waarmee ons land op dit ogenblik wordt geconfronteerd. Hij liet daarbij ook niet na om, in de actuele context, nogmaals te benadrukken dat de introductie van een sterker veiligheidsbeleid de economie moet toelaten zich te presenteren als een dynamische omgeving die een scheppende bron van werkgelegenheid vormt.

De dertig kandidaten presenteerden zich bij een jury met vooraanstaande vertegenwoordigers van de Belgische economische wereld. (voor meer informatie hierover : http://theentrepreneursawards.net/). Tijdens de gala-avond werden van alle geslecteerde kandidaten een video getoond,  waarin de activiteit van hun onderneming en/of de kandidaat werden omschreven.

Alain Renier (oprichter TOP MANAGEMENT)  en Bart Becks
(oprichter ANGEL.ME) benadrukken afsluitend:
“Wij hebben het ondernemerschap in de kijker willen plaatsen door een hulde te brengen aan bestuurders in de categorieën Top Manager, Top Founder en Top Investeerder van het jaar. Het enthousiasme van de kandidaten, de partners en de medewerkers heeft ertoe bijgedragen dat het evenement, dat helemaal was uitverkocht, de beste getuigenis mag worden genoemd dat België over een ongelooflijk talent beschikt en dat de inspanningen die op alle niveaus worden gedaan om het ondernemerschap te promoten, fantastische resultaten opleveren.”

Vele gelukwensen aan iedereen en afspraak volgend jaar voor een nieuwe editie van The Entrepreneur Awards of the Year 2017!

Met vriendelijke groeten,
ANGEL.ME – TOP MANAGEMENT

_________________________________________________

[FR]

Au Diamant Centre Brussels, ce 12 mai 2016, a eu lieu, devant près de 300 invités, la remise des prix The Entrepreneur Awards of the Year organisée conjointement par TOP MANAGEMENT et ANGEL.ME.
Cette prestigieuse soirée était rehaussée par la présence du Ministre de l’Intérieur et Vice-Premier Ministre Jan Jambon.
Avant la remise des trophées, il a insisté sur la necesité d’avoir un entreprenariat fort afin de relever les défis qui se présentent à notre pays. Il n’a pas manqué, dans le contexte actuel, de redire tout l’intérêt de la mise en place d’une politique plus sécuritaire permettant à l’économie de présenter un visage à la fois dynamique et créateur d’emplois.
Les 30 candidats qui étaient passés préalablement devant un jury composé de hautes personnalités du monde économique belge (à découvrir sur le site http://theentrepreneurawards.net/) , ont présentés un petit film décrivant les activités de leurs entreprises.

Alain Renier (Fondateur TOP MANAGEMENT) et son équipe et Bart Becks (Fondateur Angel.me) souhaitent conclurent : “Nous voulions mettre en avant l’entreprenariat en célébrant les dirigeants dans les catégories Top Manager, Top Founder et Top Investor de l’année.
L’enthousiasme des candidats, des partenaires et de l’assistance ont contribué à faire de cet événement sold-out la meilleure démonstration que la Belgique a un incroyable talent et que les efforts déployés a tous les niveaux pour promouvoir l’entreprenariat conduisent à de fantastiques résultats! “

Félicitations à tous et rendez-vous l’année prochaine pour une nouvelle édition des The Entrepreneur Awards of the Year !

TOP MANAGEMENT – ANGEL.ME

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cftips

5 elements to include in a strong campaign

It’s vital that angels who want to support your project get a picture of what the project is about, and who the person behind it is. We often get asked:”what should we include in a project description?”. Ofcourse, this differs a bit per project, but in general having the following 5 elements increase the change for success of a crowdfunding campaign:

1. what is the product or service/ and what is the solution that it is solving ?
2. why is this product or service better than another ?
3. what will you use the amounts for that you raise via crowdfunding ?
4. what is your approach related to sales and marketing ?
5. who are the persons behind the project ?

Some more details:

1. what is the product or service/ and what is the solution that it is solving
Here you would describe also how the production will happen (how, what, by who) and some more technical details.

2. why is this product or service better ?
What is your differentiator ? This can be the project or product, the organisation behind it, the crowd, you, the goal, the location, …
It’s important to find something that will make you stand out.

3. what will you use the amounts for that you raise via crowdfunding ?
You don’t have to explain every detail, but crowdfunding like to know what you will use the crowdfunded money for. How much for production, salaries, cost of sales, etc. Give the general breakout, it’s important to gain trust.

4. what is your approach related to sales and marketing ?
Sales and marketing/communication become increasingly important. What will your approach be to communicate your project. Do you have partners ? Did the press pick it up ? Is the crowd supportive ?

5. who are the persons behind the project ?
It’s vital to give your story of yourself, and possibly your team or partners if this is the case. Crowdfunders ask themselves: who is this person, kan I trust her or him, am I sure to receive the goods, etc
This part is becoming increasingly important, and we noticed so many people have exceptional stories why they do what they do.

Besides the text, it’s vital that your video (having a video increases chances for success with more than 60% !!) communicates the same story. It can be different, but it’s still the same project, isn’t it :-)

Good luck,
let’s make it happen.

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Capital Markets Union: Commission supports crowdfunding as alternative source of finance for Europe’s start-ups

Capital Markets Union: Commission supports crowdfunding as alternative source of finance for Europe’s start-ups

Brussels, 3 May 2016

The European Commission is today publishing its report on the EU crowdfunding sector, part of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan.

Supporting innovative ways of connecting savings to growth and diversifying the funding sources for European businesses is crucial to improving growth and job creation in Europe.

The report finds that crowdfunding remains relatively small but is developing rapidly. If appropriately regulated, it has the potential to be a key source of financing for SMEs over the long term. EU Member States have begun to put in place national frameworks to support the growth of the sector and ensure investors are appropriately protected.

These national frameworks are broadly consistent in terms of the objectives and outcomes they seek to achieve, but are tailored to local markets and domestic regulatory approaches. As crowdfunding remains largely local and the sector is changing rapidly, there is no strong case for an EU level framework at this juncture. The Commission will keep developments in the sector under review, and meet twice per year with regulators and the sector. This will ensure the Commission is able to respond in a timely manner if further steps to support regulatory convergence are needed, both to promote the development of the sector and to ensure appropriate investor protection.

EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Jonathan Hill said: “As part of our work to improve the funding conveyor belt for businesses, we are keen to support the development of crowdfunding models as a source of financing for entrepreneurs with bright ideas, start-ups and other SMEs. Our focus is on promoting best practice, appropriate investor protection and consistency of national regimes. We will continue to monitor market and regulatory developments closely.”

Crowdfunding is an open call to the public to raise funds for a project. Crowdfunding platforms are websites that enable fundraisers, be they individuals or businesses, to interact with investors and donors. Financial pledges can be made and collected through the platform.

Crowdfunding is still small but growing fast in Europe. Based on available data, approximately €4.2 billion was successfully raised through crowdfunding platforms in 2015 in the EU, compared with €1.6 billion in 2014. In 2015, €4.1 billion was raised through crowdfunding models that entail a possible financial return for those contributing the funds – for example, through equity investments or loans. Crowdfunding projects were present in all Member States. However, activity is currently concentrated in a small number of Member States. The UK has by far the largest amount raised and number of projects funded through crowdfunding.

At the same time, cross-border project funding is still limited and crowdfunding remains a regional or local phenomenon to a large extent. Several Member States have already introduced or are planning to introduce domestic bespoke regimes on crowdfunding. Overall, these domestic rules aim to support the development of this source of funding, while addressing key risks that may arise, notably for investors.

Background

On 30 September 2015 the Commission adopted an Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union (CMU). The CMU Action Plan pledged that we would publish a report on the development of European crowdfunding to assess national regimes, identify best practice, and present the results of the Commission’s monitoring of the evolution of the crowdfunding sector.

More info on the EU site

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Crowdfunding platforms welcome progress on Prospectus Directive


European crowdfunding platforms, represented by the European Crowdfunding Network, the UK Crowdfunding Association, Financement Participatif France and Nederland Crowdfunding welcome the current EU debates in Brussels regarding the Prospectus Directive, aimed at making it easier for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) across Europe to raise finance.

The crowdfunding industry supports the goals of both the Capital Markets Union and the Digital Single Market.  Crowdfunding enables anyone to invest in SMEs via their mobile, tablet and PC irrespectively of geographic location, so it is a key way of bringing together investors from across Europe by facilitating cross-border investment. To achieve this, the crowdfunding industry has called on the European Parliament and European Council to be more ambitious with the amendments to the Prospectus Regulation proposal proposed by the European Commission to ensure the EU framework enables regulated cross-border investment in crowdfunding, in line with best practices in consumer protection, and without the need for a Prospectus where appropriate.

Most industry practitioners acknowledge that a modern day prospectus is designed for the legal advisers of professional investment firms not the needs of the retail investor. The focus is on disclosure but often at the expense of clarity and transparency of information.  However, this should not be a barrier to investment.  A prospectus is also designed for communicating the investment offers of large and complex businesses whereas the majority of crowdfunding investments involve straightforward corporate or project structures at a scale which is understandable to the retail investor.

Crowdfunding platforms can present investment opportunities and risks in a responsible, transparent and accessible manner, taking special care of the information needs of retail investors.  Investment Crowdfunding platforms provide proportionate investor protections to ensure people fully understand the risks of the investments and are given proper recourse if rules are not properly followed.

The European Commission’s Prospectus Regulation proposal, published in December 2015, included at Article 3, an increase in the Prospectus exemption threshold set by Member States from €5 million to €10 million but limited such fundraising to ‘domestic offers’.  The crowdfunding sector support the increase of the exemption threshold given the growing size of crowdfunding rounds.  However, stakeholders strongly believe that any kind of ‘domestic offer’ requirement could be contrary to the aims of Capital Markets Union with its focus on cross-border investment.  It is also unclear how a ‘Domestic offer’ is defined, given the digital nature of most crowdfunding platforms which operate via the Internet across the EU.

The industry associations produced a position paper proposing the removal of the ‘domestic offer’ requirement from the Article 3 exemption and greater clarity that companies raising finance are only subject to the Prospectus requirements (or exemptions) of their own EU Member State.  Our position paper has been well received by the European Commission, Parliament and Finance Ministries around Europe.

The European Parliament’s draft amendment to the Regulation recognises the input from the crowdfunding sector and has removed the ‘domestic offer’ limitation while increasing the exemption set by Member States to €20m. The crowdfunding industry welcomes the Parliament draft and is now calling on the European Council to adopt a similar position.  It would also be helpful to clarify that where a fundraising company is exempt from producing a Prospectus under its own country’s laws, that a lower Prospectus threshold in another EU member state will not apply to cross-border investment.  The crowdfunding sector especially welcomes the proposed simplified SME prospectus, which should reduce costs and make information easier to understand for retail investors.  The legislative process is ongoing.

Read more on the ECN insights section.

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Disruptive innovations : welcome or block ?

AngelSession
#AngelSession2: innovating mobility (Uber, Taxis, Minister Mobility, iMinds)

In May 2015, we organised an AngelSessionBXL. These are short evening meetups we started in Brussels, and will now expand to other cities around Belgium.

That evening was very interesting with the following participants: Minister of mobility Pascal Smet, Uber Belgium chief Filip Nuytemans, Taxis Verts (Brussels) chief Jean-Michel Courtoy and Professor Pieter Ballon (iMinds). (see Photo)

It was an intense debate. Very intense.

Looking back – a couple of thing remain on my mind:
1. Brussels is one of the most challenging cities in Europe related to traffic. Brussels has traffic-free central lanes, the rest of the boulevards are constantly blocked (driving a car is becoming a nightmare), the trains are on strike often and the metro-network is averagely developed. This could be the perfect starting point to have an totally re-thought system of transportation. Let’s be honest, it cannot become much worse. When we stayed in LA, the 405 highway had a bad name. But that’s nothing compared to driving from Brussels center to Antwerp center. So why not use this opportunity. Why not re-imagine from the ground up and make Brussels the most modern and innovating city on mobility ?

2. Belgium does not know how to handle disruptive innovation. Over the course of my life, I’ve been confronted with regulatory frameworks. For example: at Skynet (a Belgium-based internet provider), we were confronted from the early days with copyright issues (the begin of the web), with privacy (when things got more mainstream), and when we launched digital tv (Belgacomtv was one of the 1st telco’s in Europe to launch interactive tv) it was immensely complex. But it was still easy, when you compare it to the current complexity in data and disrupted marketplaces.

Being a startup in Europe is somewhat complex, although we shouldn’t exagerate. You all know the challenges of multiple markets, the lower amounts of growth capital available (compared to the US), etc etc. The regulatory complexity is another hurdle.

The regulatory complexity across Europe related to crowdfunding is very unclear as well. (I always seem to be in a regulatory challenged domain :-).
Belgium is one of the more conservative countries, leading to major delays compared to the UK or other markets. Belgium has a limit of 300k€ without a prospectus, UK has a limit of 2M€. It has hindered the development of companies active in the domain, and hence the entire market. Belgium is the lowest per capita crowdfunding market. Fortunately, new legislative initiatives such as a tax shelter for startups, reduced contributions for starters and crowdfunding platform incentives are arriving. Belgium has adopted to the new phenomenon very slow.

When I read today’s (Oct-16-2015) news that the UK government had approved the framework of operations of Uber in UK and declared it legal since its start begin 2012, it came to mind that UK is again leading the way to creating better conditions for innovation. In Belgium, Uberpop just had to stop its service.
Let me be clear : I don’t think Uber should be allowed to do anything it wants. But the experience of Uber is something that creates a totally new expectation. No useless waiting, a friendly atmosphere, no more cash-payments (and discussion with the driver if he ‘wants’ to accept a credit card), etc. But there are laws, and we all need to comply with them.

However, legislation needs to adapt to the realities of modern life. If we like it or not, technology has increased the speed and ease, and has had a positive impact on life (mine at least, although I think we are all trying to control and slow down the speed of life a bit). Why not draft the conditions in which one can operate, instead of saying no to innovation. Why can’t legislation and regulation set the scene ?

Why not, like this UK official indicates, say

“As a government we welcome innovation and we welcome ‘disruptive technology’,” said business secretary Sajid Javid this week. “And I wouldn’t want to see anything done that jeopardies our status as a country that welcomes investment and jobs, and puts consumers first.”

That said, 2 concluding remarks (a son-remark and a plug):

  1. my son, 7 years old, does not see Uber as a taxi-app. He likes the service a lot, and like every other icon on my iPhone homescreen he knows the brand. But he though I could unlock a bike to rent too. Uber is for him a synonym of easy usage of transportation. It could be any brand, but Uber was first.
  2. the next #AngelSessionBXL will be about innovative marketing.
    With
    – Bert Marievoet, country lead of Twitter Belgium
    – the amazing Clo Willaerts who has an exceptional view on marketing
    – insights from the community-driven Mobile Vikings by its chief Viking Hans Similon
    – and perspectives for growth by Golden pages marketing chief Wim Vermeulen.
    Also : we’ll also host again an “AngelStage”, allowing entrepreneurs to pitch their company.

Registration for the AngelSessionBXL of Nov-18 are open now!

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willing-to-learn

5 reasons to do a crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding comes in many shapes and colours. Everyday, people are exposed to new projects who give this form of funding a shot. But what are the reasons for launching a crowdfunding campaign?

(1) Funding
The first reason is obviously to raise money. “Banks don’t care about starters or beginning entrepreneurs” or “I asked my banker for a loan, and he told me the bank does not take any risks regarding starters” is an often hear remark.
So crowdfunding is a different way to find start capital to create your project, initiative or company. The great thing about the internet is that everything becomes reachable. It depends fully on yourself.

(2) Validation
Crowdfunding is also a great way to validate your idea of company. If a campaign that that has few or no support, that’s often an indication that more work needs to be done. Or that few people have trust in it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, maybe you need to communicate it better. Or apply a different strategy. Or … maybe the idea is not convincing. That said, if YOU believe in it, it’s ofcourse up to you to just realise your dream.

(3) Feedback
Sometimes, your have a great product or idea, but you don’t know how to communicate, sell or distribute it to customers. Thanks to the direct connections and feedback you receive via the digital channels, you may discover that your product has an unsuspected potential in a foreign country you would perhaps never have thought of in the first place.

(4) Finding partners
Partners like local distributors can also hear about your product through a crowdfunding campaign and get in touch to explore opportunities. When preparing a crowdfunding campaign and later on when running it, project creators will find themselves in a position where they have to explain in clear and simple words their idea and why it is worth being supported. Finding the right angle and the right tone may take several attempts but is crucial for the campaign to succeed, not finding them will often result in a failed campaign. But success or failure, writing down the description and preparing the communication strategy of a campaign is often a process where creators of a project refine and sometimes even question their understanding of it.

(5) Building  a community of fans
Last but not least, preparing and launching a campaign can help create or grow a community of fans that will stay around long after the campaign is over. People that get involved early on in a project develop a particular connection with it and often turn into advocates and evangelists. In other words, every backer of a project is a lot more than just a handful of dollars.

There are many reasons to do crowdfunding. Some campaigns will succeed while others will end up in failure. But, in both cases, there are precious lessons to be learned for the project creators.

We believe that learning from others is about the most precious you can receive via crowdfunding. Even more:

“If you’re now willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you !”

 

willing-to-learn

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