This week, the fifth batch of start-ups will begin their accelerator program at The Birdhouse. They were selected from more than nine hundred entries and seventy pitches. What particularly stood out was the great diversity. “We see totally new sectors emerging, but there is also a lot of innovation in the classic sectors,” says Henk Vandenbroucke, COO of The Birdhouse. “For example, legal tech is clearly on the rise and the sharing economy is also starting to conquer traditional bastions like the construction sector.”
It has long been no secret that getting off the ground as a start-up is not easy. They often don’t lack ambition, but they often lack money and guidance. The Birdhouse hopes to help start-ups on their way to success.
Based on 971 submitted files seventy startups were asked to pitch. Of these, fourteen eventually survived the rigorous selection: eight in Ghent, six in Antwerp. “We only allow about fifteen startups in each batch anyway,” Vandenbroucke explains.
“Because the program and the guidance are particularly intensive, we are keeping the number of places limited. Many of the submitted files came either from fledgling startups with a still vague entrepreneurial idea, or from SMEs. With The Birdhouse, we are explicitly focusing on startups that have already developed and need just that one acceleration to scale up.“
In Ghent, The Birdhouse welcomes the following 8 start-ups: Human Reef, Crimibox, Contractify, De Nachtkoerier, Hemp in a Box, Dropon, Techwolf and Tengu. In Antwerp, the following 6 names: Lawra, Youreka, Bullswap, i.Revatilise, Foodbot3D and Dare To.
Software and legal tech on the rise
Under the start-ups that were admitted to the accelerator program, there are quite a few software platforms. These range particularly wide: from HR, IT support and logistics to 3D visualization.
Another notable trend is the rise of legal tech: a world where technology was slow to gain a foothold, but which is now rapidly digitizing. Two of the fourteen start-ups in the new batch of The Birdhouse are legal tech start-ups.
Innovative start-ups are also popping up like mushrooms in other classic sectors. One of the selected start-ups, Bullswap introduces the sharing economy to the construction industry and lets construction companies share heavy material and equipment. Another is active in the dating world, Dare To, a first for The Birdhouse. “That start-up, as well as another young company Crimibox, which focuses on an offline game concept, illustrate that innovation is not necessarily a synonym for technology,” Henk Vandenbroucke emphasizes. “A significant part of their activities takes place offline.“
The Birdhouse asked the start-ups that submitted a dossier what they need most. Ranking number one is: mentors (77 percent). Start-ups need experienced entrepreneurs who have gone before them, who can protect them from pitfalls, but who can also point out opportunities. A network (73 percent) and help with financing (67 percent) complete the top three of the greatest needs of start-up founders.