Start it @KBC targets new horizons. Incubators and accelerators are starting to pop up in Eastern and Central Europe, the next step is a real ecosystem for startups. Start it @K&H, KBC in Hungary, boosts entrepreneurship in Budapest – the Paris of the East – the same way Start it @KBC does in Belgium. The first wave of startups is ready to rock, Central Europe is ready to send out its sons and daughters.
Start it @KBC sure loves pioneering. We are the first and the largest accelerator in Belgium, we were the first to boost female entrepreneurship, we went the extra mile to increase diversity with over 40 different nationalities in our community, we were the first to focus on pitching, we were the first to make a concrete link to the US with our partnership with Techstars New York some years ago. And although the work in those domains is far from finished, now is the time to speed up our international expansion. While Start it @KBC is already part of GAN (Global Accelerator Network), and while we help startups and scale-ups chase the American Dream in New York and San Francisco, the European scoop goes to Budapest. We are proud to say that Start it @KBC, together with our partners, is Belgium’s first accelerator to really break down boundaries.
“Start it @KBC has a big share in boosting entrepreneurship in Belgium”, Johan Thijs, CEO of KBC Belgium, says. “Over 600 startups, a lot of which have grown to scale-ups now, are part of our community. The concept has proven to be working well. Together with local partners, KBC wants to support the scaling of the Start it concept and help to accelerate entrepreneurship and boost the local economy in other countries where KBC has a strong presence.”
“Startups and scale-ups need to go to the markets where they can do business. For some it will be the USA, for some it will be Asia, and for some it will be Central Europe. Start it @K&H can boost the local economy and market, and will pave the way for more interaction between Central and Western Europe”, Start it @KBC founder Lode Uytterschaut explains. “We still have to see if there is a market for Belgian companies. However, there is a lot of knowledge available: where there might be scarcity in our labor market, especially with certain profiles, this can sometimes be filled in Central Europe. So next to looking for business, Belgian companies can look for good people.”
Never change a winning team
Although its startup scene is pretty young, Hungary has already produced some booming startups. It’s an emerging market for startups. Prezi, the presentation tool that successfully challenges PowerPoint, is the flagship of the local startup ecosystem. Start it @K&H community manager György Dede estimates the number of Hungarian startups at around 800 to 1,000, of which 90 percent is based in Budapest. But he’s convinced that the lack of accelerators and incubators – not just in Hungary, but in the whole of Central Europe – holds back the development of a much stronger ecosystem.
Enter Start it @KBC. Applying the motto ‘never change a winning team’, Start it @K&H copies the Belgian success story of Start it @KBC to Hungary. Start it @K&H community manager György Dede: “We will help start-ups with product development, but we will also help them to find investors for their plans. They can count on a dedicated working space, they can rely on a group of experienced mentors, they can participate in training by experts to achieve the practical skills they need to make their business grow, they can join network events to meet future investors and partners. And off course, they are part of an inspiring community of driven and enthusiastic founders.”
Just like in Belgium, Start it @K&H teams up with other partners to maximize its efforts to boost entrepreneurship. “We initiated a corporate corporation called Team up!”, György Dede reveals. “Next to K&H Group also Nestlé, RTL, Microsoft and Aon Hewitt stepped on board. They have all engaged themselves to build bridges between the startup ecosystem and the corporate world.”
The Hungarian-Belgian connection
Start it @K&H wants to put its international focus in practice. Hungarian startups get the opportunity to come to Belgium, join Start it @KBC and explore the Belgian market. They can also participate in events like Demo Day, Belgium’s biggest pitching competition. For Belgian startups, Budapest is the perfect base to start exploring and conquering Central Europe.
“Thanks to our international reach, both Belgian and Hungarian startups and scale-ups will extend their network”, Lode Uytterschaut emphasizes. “A lot of the Hungarian startups are very interested in doing business in Western European countries. Belgian companies already outsource software developing and programming to Central Europe. Business between Western and Central Europe will only increase in the near future.”
The first wave of 13 Hungarian startups gave us a sneak peak of the potential of the local startup scene. The startups impress friend and foe with their quality. Lode Uytterschaut: “The accelerator had a strong first wave and we are convinced that, with the support of our partners, we will be able to boost entrepreneurship and impact the Hungarian economy the same way we do in Belgium.”
Do you want to explore the opportunities for your startup in Hungary? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.