THE STARTUP MAGAZINE
In a changing world and an ever-changing financial sector, connecting two of Europe’s leading fintech hubs is an entry point for potential synergies between startups and investors. Let’s connect the dots and start the conversation together. What are the specificities of the two financial capitals and the essential innovative solutions? Who are the entrepreneurs, investors and key players in the ecosystems? This day is devoted to networking through a dedicated matchmaking platform on which you can schedule business appointments and a series of relevant interventions not to be missed. This event is for startups, investors, large corporates, SMEs, service providers, public representatives and ecosystem builders.
Thursday, April 22
Timetable (CET)* 8:00 am Opening of the networking session 9:00 am - 9:10 am Intro Luxembourg Fintech Ecosystem by Nasir Zubairi, (CEO, The LHoFT) 9:15 am - 9:25 am Intro Finland Fintech Ecosystem by Janne Salminen, (CEO, Helsinki Fintech Farm) 9:30 am - 10:10 am Roundtable: Funding for Fintech. Guests: Jerome Wittamer (Managing Partner, Expon Capital), Davide Martucci (Co-founder & CEO, Next Gate Tech), Paavo Hannu Räisänen (Investment Director, Kytölä (General Partner, Vendep Capital), Maki.VC), Monika Liikamaa (Co-founder & CEO, Enfuce). Moderator: Matias Mäenpää (Co-founder, Leap) 10:15 am - 10:25 am Fireside Chat with Irene Mäkelä (Chairwoman, Finnish-Luxembourg Society) 10:30 am - 10:40 am Wrap up with Teemu Seppälä (Senior Business Advisor, Helsinki Business Hub) and Charles-Louis Machuron (Founder, Silicon Luxembourg ) 8:00 pm Closing of the networking session *CET: Central European Time Zone Finland: UTC+1
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Charles-Louis Machuron Founder of Silicon Luxembourg
Being an entrepreneur has taken on a whole new dimension. Sometimes decried, sometimes adulated, entrepreneurship has been emulated and many people have toyed with the idea of starting a business to do their thing! To give meaning, to have a societal impact, to do something for oneself and to create value. This is probably what being an entrepreneur in 2021 is all about. Working together for a better world, conquering unknown territories, celebrating the concrete and the tangible. Any entrepreneur will tell you it’s an adventure. You take your whole entourage and your network with you. Of course, there are many challenges, emotional management is the new deal and the jobs of tomorrow do not yet exist. However, one thing is certain: we will always be able to do what we want and create what makes sense to us.
DATA RO OM BEING BUSINESS ANGELS
LBAN members invested €2.9M in Luxembourg in 2020 of the projects received more than €250,000 from LBAN members
projects funded by LBAN members in 2020
LBAN members invested €6.5M in total in 2020 LBAN members
15 deals + 2 exists (undisclosed amounts) for a total of €34M were raised by startups in 2020 in Luxembourg LATEST DEALS
of the LBAN members are investing in equity
STOKR Raises €3.9 Million In Response To Security Token Demand
STOKR, a funding platform in digital assets, which connects startups and SMEs with investors, has signed off a €3.9 million pre-series A funding with investors including Borderless Capital, Utopia Genesis Foundation and G1 Ventures.
€1 Million For Yollty Yollty, a Luxembourg-based startup specialized in loyalty solutions has finalized a €1 million-funding round from a consortium of private and public investors.
Source : Luxembourg Business Angel Network (LBAN), « The (unofficial) list of start-up deals & exits in Luxembourg » by Nicolas Valaize, and Silicon Luxembourg
DIGITAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: HOW TO ADAPT TO THE “NEW NORMAL”?
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SAY NO TO PROTECT YOUR VALUES
DIGITAL COMPETENCE DEPENDS ON THE OPEN-MINDEDNESS OF ENTREPRENEURS
ALWAYS WITH HIS ANGELL
INDEX EDITOR IN CHIEF Charles-Louis Machuron
A BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE ENTREPRENEUR’S PARTNER
COVER Studio Polenta
HOW ABOUT AGILE MARKETING ?
EDITORIAL DESIGN Annick Kieffer Sara Giubelli PHOTOGRAPHY Kaori Anne Jolliffe Olivier Minaire Serge Deuces CONTRIBUTORS Aurélie Boob Marc Auxenfants Niina Mäenpää EDITING Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan PUBLISHING Silicon Luxembourg S.à r.l.
ART DIRECTION Studio Polenta
D I G I TA L E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
D I G I TA L ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
How to adapt to the new normal It’s been a year now. One year ago, (business) life changed – and it changed a lot. Who would have known? The year has been exceptional in many ways. by: Niina Mäenpää, Business Psychologist and Coach
As ever, resilience is needed at both the entrepreneurial and individual levels. Entrepreneurs and organizations who have faith in the future and focus on opportunities, highlighting even the smallest successes rather than problems and challenges, will survive better than those who fail to adapt. RESILIENCE AS A TOOL TO WIN THE BATTLE
By resilience, I mean the ability of both the individual and the organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and adapt to change and sudden, even difficult situations so that they remain operational and successful. Resilience can also be described as adaptability, discouragement, and persistence. It is a willingness to fight. Individual and entrepreneurial/organizational resilience is identified by the fact that businesses and business owners retain their ability to act in sudden situations, recover quickly, adapt to new and changing situations, and develop their operating methods. Resiliewnt activities can be seen as agility and flexibility, the ability to focus on doing or action, the ability to see changes as opportunities, faith in the future, optimism, the ability to rely on others, purposefulness, belief that things can be influenced, and perseverance, etc. Failures or challenges are not meant to be hidden or covered up, but they should not be given too much weight. Rather, when you know how to turn challenges into learning opportunities, you are well on your way to moving forward. Best of all, resilience can be developed. Both individuals and organizations can become more resilient.
TIPS FOR MORE RESILIENT ACTIVITIES FOR BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS: challenges and failures as an opportunity for learning 1 See and developing. on doing and taking things forward instead of wor2 Focus rying or thinking too much. solver: concentrate on what you can do, not 3 Bewhata problem you can’t. all your effort into what you can influence and decide, 4 Put not into something that is outside of your hands. on what opportunities or chances the current situa5 Focus tion could offer: how do you turn the current situation into a (business) opportunity?
needed, dare to boldly let go of the old to leave room for 6 Ifsomething new. be left alone: ask for advice, and talk and discover 7 Don’t with others. One part of resilience is the ability to seek and receive support, both at the entrepreneurial and individual levels. Especially in difficult times, we need other people. Relevant and good relationships allow for the sharing and handling of experiences and feelings together. With digitalization, the need for communication is emphasized, as it is the clearest and easiest way to build trust, both with our own employees and colleagues and with customers. Do not be afraid of engaging customers and consumers in the discussion, and collaborate with all your stakeholders in the quest for new and better solutions. Now is the time for action and the (final) moment to focus on business and life in general – on what we can influence – that is the future. Let’s do it resiliently!
Filip Westerlund Alberto Noronha
Founder, Nium Making plans is always a challenge. A year ago you might have had a plan but today we live in a completely different world! All that planning becomes almost useless. As a startup, how can you prepare? Adapting to this reality was very difficult, that was not my background. While before I focused on science, being an entrepreneur is also about being agile and adapting to change while keeping an ambitious vision for your company. University of Luxembourg Incubator gives a soft start and easy transition from being a student or a researcher to becoming an entrepreneur
Co-founder Our Choice Fashion The main challenge is definitely having to operate without any funds at all. I had to do almost everything on my own and I only have 24 hours in a day. I am also not an expert in a lot of fields. With the Incubator and its VMS, I managed to accelerate my business in a way that I could never have done by myself. Lately things were difficult for everyone so knowing that I can always turn to Incubator is important
Co-founder GoldenMe The lack of time is a big problem for us. I am still a student and involved in different initiatives. I am happy with the advancement of GoldenMe but there is room for more. Incubator was always very helpful, providing us with information from the ecosystem. Participation in VMS is especially useful for us as our mentors have an external point of view, they see our progress and the challenges we face while still having in mind where we were standing a few months ago. Their objectivity and constructive feedback are extremely valuable for us
Students’ Which challenges are you facing as a young entrepreneur?
Pranjul Shah Himadri Pathak
Founder CheckMath Ideation Camp was the reason why I started my own business, without that I would not have the confidence to do it. I have a technical background and transitioning into the business route was the most difficult part. I am still learning marketing, sales and strategy. Before I hire someone, I feel the need to have a good understanding of their field so that I can guide them better and make good decisions for the company. My support and learning come from VMS and I am very grateful to be a part of it
Head, University of Luxembourg Incubator When the lockdowns started to disrupt our lives, number of our startups pivoted from their business model to come up with unique solutions to serve the unmet needs of the population. Nium, for example, identified the imminent needs to ensure that people continued to eat healthy foods and came up with a new product offering Nutrida. Meantime, F4A and EduGamiTec managed to raise venture finance, clearly signaling that for good projects there is always funding. LetzMath, the first Luxembourgish winner of the WSA, launched Magrid, early math learning solution. CheckMath, accelerated their market adoption to over 5000 schools worldwide by an active push of their unique mathematical problem checking app
Head, University of Luxembourg Entrepreneurship Programme There are so many reasons to start a business while still being a student: putting your learning into practice, building an instant professional network, gaining transversal skills, etc. However, many students are overloaded with studies or think that they lack technical skills or “good enough” idea. Our courses like Ideation Camp and JumpStart help them test their ideas whereas providing credits towards their degree so students can get a taste of entrepreneurship while still studying. They get hands-on learning experiences and it is fantastic for them to be surrounded by the experts and industry leaders we bring on board as it gives them the self-confidence which they are still lacking
How does the University of Luxembourg Incubator’s VMS program help you with those challenges?
DEPENDS ON THE OPEN-MINDEDNESS OF ENTREPRENEURS
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Digital Competence Since the beginning of the health crisis, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, through the intermediary of the House of Entrepreneurship- currently headed by Tom Baumert, has launched several initiatives to accompany and support entrepreneurs. Restaurateurs, hoteliers, craftsmen, and businesses benefit from a range of tools to help them transition digitally, in addition to government assistance. One year after the beginning of the crisis, Silicon Luxembourg takes stock of the effects of these measures with Tom Baumert. by : Aurélie Boob photo : Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce
Go Digital, #React, Jobswitch, helpline... Numerous schemes were launched in 2020 to support entrepreneurs in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. One year later, what are you seeing? Apart from Jobswitch, which was an emergency device, all of them are still active. Go Digital already existed before the crisis. In 2020, we registered 6,203 participants in 131 workshops on digitalization-related topics, with an attendance rate of over 70%. This rate is 15 to 20% higher than in face-to-face sessions. For each webinar organized, we have more than 100 registrations, which would be unimaginable in person because of the capacity of the rooms. In 2021, more than 200 companies have already participated in these workshops. Overall, we can say that it's a success, although we have to put it into perspective, of course. We have set up a funnel principle to help entrepreneurs at 3 levels in their digital transformation: workshops, accessible free of charge upon registration for 1 to 2 hour sessions, an individual analysis of the company's digital progress and support packages. Very small companies, such as hotels, shops, craftsmen, small architecture firms... do not have the internal skills or the means to invest in digital.
Would you say that the digitalization of companies in Luxembourg is a cyclical phenomenon (response to an emergency) or a structural phenomenon (sustainable awareness)? It's hard to answer... Let's take the example of retailers who have joined the Letzshop online marketplace. I would say that those who have put a lot online have sold a lot and are convinced that another model - the phygital - is now possible. On the other hand, those who have only put 2 or 3 products online are not convinced and are waiting for a return to the previous business model... But nothing will be the same anymore. Restaurant owners who have developed take-away sales have understood this: they will be able to increase part of their turnover by keeping both models after the reopening. They think in concrete terms: "Will I be able to amortize the cost of my new CRM by the time I retire? "They don't realize that this CRM may add value to their business when they pass it on or sell it. It can be said that digital competence is not related to the size of the company, but to the openmindedness of its manager. It's also a generational issue."
“It can be said that digital competence is not related to the size of the company, but to the open-mindedness of its manager. It’s also a generational issue.” Overall, how is the morale of entrepreneurs in March 2021? They are as worried as they were in March 2020, perhaps not because of the prospect of liquidation, but because of a lack of prospects. In Luxembourg, we are lucky that the government follows a relatively stable protocol. But the state will not be able to provide them with aid until 2024... If the reopening of the terraces is authorized at the beginning of April, it should not be accompanied by a total halt in the subsidies, because the activity will not immediately resume at full capacity. The Ministry of Labor's criticism of the use of funds to support entrepreneurs was misplaced. Most of them have done everything to maintain jobs and keep their teams, even if it means dipping into personal funds and taking a lot of risks. They adapt and find solutions. I even regularly meet with restaurant project leaders who are ready to launch their business as soon as it reopens. Their project is complete, and yet they reinvent themselves. This is a great symbol of hope and we are lucky to be around people who have dreams and believe in them.
122 Marketing Digital
Gestion de la relation client
60 Gestion de l’organisation
Source: Luxembourg Chambre of Commerce
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IND THE SCENES
OF THE ENTREPRENEUR’S PARTNER by : Aurélie Boob
They are spouses of entrepreneurs, sometimes parents, working and selfemployed and live with an entrepreneur who has a heavy responsibility to carry on a daily basis. How do they live this role behind the mirror? Is it a priesthood or a shared emulation? What is the greatest adventure of their lives? Career or private life? We have dared to give a voice to those who are behind the scenes. Honey, are you listening to me? Sophie, Jean-Philippe, and Luiza have agreed to lift the curtain on what happens in the background, once the laptop is on standby (it’s never off, of course!).
It has often been written that behind every great man is a woman. Today, the opposite is also true, and the role played by these men and women is considerable if we believe their bosses' halves... Being married to an entrepreneur means tacitly accepting to form the first chain of his or her team. Oftentimes, unofficially. There are partner duos, iconic like Barack and Michele Obama, studious like Pierre and Marie Curie, "each his own universe" like Djamel Debbouze and Mélissa Theuriau, or sacerdotal like Sam Gamgee and Frodo? In the subject we are dealing with today, the ring is not magic, it is present on each ring finger, and the power is shared! Many entrepreneurs have become entrepreneurs after a first professional life as a salaried employee. This sometimes implies a change of life that involves the whole family... In most cases, the decision to become an entrepreneur was taken jointly. LUIZA , whose husband is a hyperactive serial entrepreneur, is an exception: "He took it alone. We knew each other at the beginning of his activity. We had very different worlds: he was in marketing and I was in finance. He is a real extrovert, he goes for it while I need to think for a long time." JEAN-PHILIPPE , an executive in the financial sector has lived through all the stages with her since they have known each other since university. He remembers the impulse to start a business, 4 years ago: "We talked about it but nothing more. One day, she came home and told me she had resigned to start her own business. She made the decision alone. I wasn't surprised, I was just happy for her. SOPHIE , a legal advisor, who met her husband (with whom she now has three young children) ten years ago, married with full knowledge of the situation: "He always wanted to be an entrepreneur and started soon after we met. When he started his media company 7 years ago, I was a salaried lawyer with a stable job. This surely helped the decision, which was made together but initiated by a whim on his part; we went on a hunch because neither he nor I had any examples of entrepreneurs among our relatives."
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When to say stop...? The main pitfall of the entrepreneur is to do too much. You could look at it this way: running a company means taking it with you like a little wheelbarrow chained to your arms, ready to receive a shovelful of ideas at any time. The principle of a wheelbarrow is to be loaded... Are we really designed to work day and night, Saturdays and Sundays included, even when we can't take it anymore and those around us say STOP? Luiza is one of them: "It happens a lot! The company is growing, but for the past two years, with two young children, we haven't slept... I remind him that he has to slow down the pace because his health and family are the priorities. At the time, he's the one who doesn't listen to me, but I know that he takes it into account because he makes an effort." Sophie doesn't want to slow her husband down, "on the contrary, I think he sometimes slows himself down! But I share my thoughts with him: sometimes I aim right, sometimes I feel annoyed because he takes my advice as reproaches!"
Family management: the balancing act For a digital entrepreneur, the question of where to work doesn't really matter, as long as the web connection is good. Working remotely has become the norm in recent months, which is a bit of a distortion. All of them have experienced the confinement well, despite homeschooling and video calls in the same room! This was proof (if any were needed) that work and private life could finally coexist. The management of work/life time is however a question of personal organization. Sophie recognizes that she is lucky: "I admire the way he manages to divide his life between his different roles. When he's a father, he's 1000% a father. This is important to me because with three young children our daily lives are very busy and I need time for myself." If for each of them, taking a vacation is not a problem, to feel on vacation is a lot to ask. All three agree that the other never really picks up the phone... The phone keeps ringing at the beach, at the parents' house, and even if they make an effort, they can't completely relax. In everyday life too, living with a boss means living with a brain that never rests! JeanPhilippe enjoys it more than he suffers from it: "sometimes she has moments of absence... We lose her for a while" He shares as many tasks as possible with his wife, but he recognizes that with the status of Agile entrepreneur, she has more flexibility than he does, "especially on Tuesday afternoons, for the children". Luiza and her husband made a novel decision: "Since we never have dinner together, we decided that the family time of the day was breakfast. Everyone is more relaxed. I take care of all the logistics during the day. He's the one who takes care of the kids at night."
Never alone in the downside A company is an evening of champagne, as much as 300 nights of sleeplessness. It's an unexpected budget that allows you to spend a week in the sun and sometimes a month "blank" where it's good to be able to count on your spouse's salary to pay the expenses! "With two people, we have the choice" says Luiza. "If it's financially risky, I tell him again that he can rely on me, I try to calm his fears. "When moments of crisis and doubt arrive, the role of the spouse is obviously essential. Soothing, relativizing, restoring motivation are among the tasks voluntarily and spontaneously accomplished by each of our interlocutors in this file. It's not easy to stay on course in the face of these changing curves? She was the one with the biggest salary," explains Jean-Philippe, "we changed our lifestyle for simplicity and we don't miss it because we concentrate on the essentials. For the moment, I am the one who ensures financial stability. The roller coaster ride never really stops in a startup!" Sophie recalls a frustrating period just before the birth of their second child: "We dreamed of buying a house. But financially it was not the right time for him. We temporarily put this desire aside despite our rapidly growing family (two children in 15 months)."
“Freedom! I love that we have different worlds which opens up exciting conversations.” LUIZA
“An opening to an environment very different from my own, access to exciting profiles and projects from all sectors, the opportunity to have varied and stimulating conversations at home.” SOPHIE
The couple: a sanctuary to preserve pressure by asking questions. The most complicated thing sometimes is to know how to keep quiet, just be there and listen to them. The partners are in the know, they know what we don't tell our colleagues, our friends... A bit of a shrink, a bit of a coach, the touch of tenderness in addition that makes all the difference. Through their testimonies, the passion for entrepreneurship is at the heart of the subject: it justifies every compromise, it sublimates every effort made, it authorizes doubt and gives all its strength to mutual benevolence.
"She sees me as the one who assures and calms the impulsiveness of her character. She can count on me. I am the one who motivates her and gives her the necessary distance." JEAN-PHILIPPE
The husband or spouse must understand that his or her partner is fulfilling himself or herself on a daily basis in this professional project, and that this time given to the business is not time that is taken away from him or her. Whole personalities can sometimes develop a form of jealousy regarding the time spent "for" the business. Conversely, the entrepreneur's expectations of his or her partner are often: "be strong, be patient, and remain financially independent. This is probably one of the keys to success for many couples! Luiza is convinced: "Yes, at the beginning I was jealous, when we were a young couple, it could bother me... With the arrival of the children, I don't have time to think about it anymore! What is certain is that it would not have worked between us if I had not worked. While on parental leave, I enrolled in an MBA to further my career." For Sophie this is not a problem: "No jealousy (but sometimes envy of his freedom). I am often the one who has to initiate a moment for the two of us, but that doesn't weigh on me more than that because he is very attentive on a daily basis." Jean-Philippe is touchingly patient when he admits that he has to share his wife with a concept: "She is 110% focused on it. I can get her back a little when we spend time together, but she is never really all mine. Yes, I could be jealous of her, but not often, because I have a lot of admiration for what she does." Everyone has a lucid awareness that their most beautiful role is that of psychological and emotional support. Everyone agrees that it is useless to add
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SCAL UP SCOU ING A TOMORROW STRE T
by: Neil Cocker, Director & Senior Partner at Tomorrow Street photo: Tomorrow Street
I look after scouting for Tomorrow Street, a scaleup accelerator and joint venture between Vodafone and Technoport. Our mission is to identify and evaluate fast-growing scaleups with innovative commercialised solutions that have the potential to scale across Vodafone’s global footprint. We form long-term partnerships with the selected companies and onboard them into the Tomorrow Street programme, help them set up a team in Luxembourg, and work with the scaleups on a daily basis to grow their business.
Scouting is exciting work – we meet amazing entrepreneurs and explore innovative technologies to identify real use cases at Vodafone. We assess around 600 companies every year, primarily scaleups with strategically relevant tech for both Vodafone and Luxembourg, which usually means IoT, AI, Cybersecurity, and B2B digital platforms. So how do we find and filter these hundreds of companies and choose the right ones for our programme? A good analogy can be found in the world of football. Professional clubs scout thousands of players across the globe for the right talent to enable their team playing style and vision, fit strongly with the club’s values, and contribute to the success of the club’s long-term strategy (all while staying within budget).
Scouting in football used to be fully an art rather than a science – typically an experienced football scout would be travelling around the country, watching games on rainy Tuesday nights, relying on personal networks, gossip and gut feelings to find the next generation of game-changing players. In the 21st century, football scouting is built on data, with teams of analysts dredging oceans of player statistics to identify the potential stars of the future. But this is only the first step – then the ‘human’ element takes over, watching the players in action, meeting them and understanding them as people, assessing strengths (e.g. technical ability) and weaknesses (e.g. past injuries).
B r a n d Vo i c e
“Evaluating and selecting the scaleups involves constant dialogue, teamwork, flexibility, and perseverance.”
We currently have 8 scaleups in our programme, mainly from North America and the UK. These companies have set up their European homes at our Kirchberg office, and by collaborating on shared growth goals our business development team has helped them win multi-country deals supporting Vodafone’s digital transformation, and also enabled revenue opportunities for Vodafone Business. This is one of the unique aspects of the Tomorrow Street model – by setting revenue targets we have concrete growth objectives for our companies, which is unusual for a corporate accelerator. While the pandemic has turned our world upside down, it has also accelerated the acceptance and implementation of new technologies, and the feeling of change and momentum at the moment is tangible. In our work we are helping to create the future, and it’s a great privilege to be involved.
There is a similar dynamic for us at Tomorrow Street – we also work with a blend of art and science. Our scouting approach is built on three foundation blocks – our relationship network within Vodafone and across the globe; intelligent use of search engines; and old-fashioned ‘boots on the ground’ trips to startup ecosystems (virtual since the pandemic began). Once we find companies of interest, our evaluation process is increasingly data-driven, and we work with over 20 assessment criteria to understand candidate companies’ fit with our programme. We start by looking at ‘hard’ data as our first filter – scaleups with the potential to grow at Vodafone need to be quite advanced to work across such a large global footprint, and this typically means meeting key indicators such as funding of €10m+, revenue of €5m+, and 50+ employees. We also undertake a technical assessment to understand the uniqueness of the solution and the fit with Vodafone’s 2025 strategy and Luxembourg’s digital ambition. We then focus on the more subjective ‘softer’ aspects, such as the quality of pitch and storytelling. Very importantly, we seek the approval of subject matter experts and decision-makers at Vodafone, and this is often enabled through a proof of concept or success in a procurement tender. Evaluating and selecting the scaleups involves constant dialogue, teamwork, flexibility, and perseverance.
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Agile Marketing? by : Aurélie Boob photo : Adoraweb
“I have made peace with myself and now accept that the first version is never perfect and that my role is to allow each version to be better than the last with the goal of continuous improvement.”
Today, marketing is also digital, and as such must be inspired by the user’s behaviors. This observation implies a change in approach and a permanent questioning of the marketing operations to launch. Here’s our conversation with Laurent Maillard, pioneer of Agile marketing, founder and manager of Adoraweb.
AGILE IS A PHILOSOPHY
Today, marketing is in a similar situation as the software development world was in the 2000s. In short, developing monumental communication plans years in advance based solely on opinions no longer works. It's about considering that the customer has taken control of their buying process. We need to value feedback from the field more and opinions less. The company must show humility and detach itself from its certainties to listen more to its customers and offer them an experience that meets their expectations. Agile methods such as Scrum, Lean, Kanban or Design Thinking offer solutions and tools to achieve this. Accepting to be wrong has almost become a necessity. This pushes the company to understand and adjust itself as closely as possible to the behaviors of its customers, even if it means going down a path that has not been explored until now... This way, we reduce the risks, especially financial, while delivering added value to our audiences on a regular basis.
TAKING IT SLOW Over the past decade, consumer buying behavior has changed significantly. They compare, consult reviews, and get information before making a purchase. 80% of this process happens outside the company's control... Remember how you chose your hotel during your last vacation? It is essential for a company that wants to communicate effectively on the web to start by knowing the profile of the customers it wants to reach (the personas) and to observe their behavior on the web. Often companies jump on the latest trend without realizing that it will not be effective if their actions are not integrated into a real marketing and sales platform, built on the expectations of the targets and not on the latest trend on Insta. Agility allows our clients to develop their website step by step by integrating it with all their actions rather than taking months (and a lot of money) before realizing that they have gone in the wrong direction. I always recommend starting with a simple version, then adding new features and content as results are obtained. Think scientifically: it proves itself every time! Observation-HypothesisInfirmation or Confirmation based on the analysis of the impact of each action (analytics). The beginning of a project is always the time when we know the least and yet it is at this moment that traditional methods push us to make the most important decisions. Taking the time to test different approaches will allow you to avoid risks (especially financial ones) and go faster in the right direction.
LUTHER PARTNERS W I T H L EG A L DATA INTELLIGENCE S TA RT U P E I S P H O R I A
Luther in Luxembourg has partnered with Belgian legal-tech startup EisphorIA, whose aim is to enable lawyers to save time in searching through textual data by deploying state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. EisphorIA implemented a very efficient library on publicly available Luxembourg case law, that allows Luther to rapidly, accurately, and exhaustively search and review judgements. Indeed, EisphorIA’s modern and multilingual contextual research solution assists lawyers in rapidly finding critical information to answer the most demanding and multiple client requests. “EisphorIA is a real ally to the legal profession”, says Marie-Louise Peretti, Head of Knowledge Management at Luther in Luxembourg, “This research tool combines pragmatism and efficiency and definitely allows lawyers to carry out a quick and complete legal research of authorized public websites, while ensuring the relevance of the proposed documents. A real time-saver and legal security, we are delighted to be able to offer our clients this new approach to legal research.” Luther is using EisphorIA’s innovative legal search tool to optimize its research methodology to the benefit of its clients as well as to actively support EisphorIA in developing its future Luxembourg Data Hub service, which allows lawyers to easily access publicly available Luxembourg legal knowledge banks.
“We are delighted to be able to offer our clients this new approach to legal research.”
“We are delighted to collaborate with Luther, our first client on the Luxembourg market. We have built with them a very close and constructive relationship that has helped us gain a better understanding of the Luxembourg market specificities and with whom we will further deploy and customize our solution in the future," states Edouard d'Oreye, CEO of EisphorIA. “We are here to assist lawyers in their work. We know how sometimes it can be laborious to find the right information, especially when you need to pass from one source to another and understand each time how to search for information. We reversed the situation: we provide our customers a highly efficient, collaborative, and flexible search experience and together we define which data sets are useful to investigate in an uniform manner."
by: Silicon Luxembourg photo: Luther
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PLASMA GROUP Molecular Plasma Group (MPG) has developed cutting-edge technology for surface treatment used in innovative applications for the automotive and aerospace sectors. Building on its swift response times, the company decided at the height of the healthcare crisis to make this technology compatible with the industrial production of surgical masks.
SERVING INDUSTRY AND H E A LT H C A R E THANKS TO THE SUPPORT OF BIL MPG is a spin-off of two research institutes, LIST (Luxembourg) and VITO (Belgium), and is hosted by the Luxembourg business incubator, Technoport. Since 2016 it has been developing its MolecularGRIPTM technology, which ensures perfect adhesion on inert surfaces such as Teflon, carbon fibre, and even sensitive substrates such as natural fibres and cellulose. “We are able to create a wide range of advanced surface functionalities and develop applications for challenging areas such as the automotive and aerospace sectors,” explains CEO Marc Jacobs, a passionate entrepreneur whose goal was to contribute to the economic fabric of Luxembourg.
B r a n d Vo i c e
Marc Jacobs, CEO of Molecular Plasma Group
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT DRIVEN BY FINANCIAL SUPPORT MPG was able to count on the support of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) to successfully diversify and grow its business. BIL had already worked with Marc Jacobs and his previous company, and took a chance on following him in his new entrepreneurial venture. “I have always had a good relationship with BIL, so they were the obvious port of call. Shareholders had EUR 250,000 of start-up capital, and BIL granted us a range of financing options amounting to a little over EUR 1 million. A package that increased and was restructured gradually, enabling us to launch the business,” adds the CEO. BIL offered MPG its support from the very start, convinced by the idea and product, and the expertise and enthusiasm of the project initiators. The innovative company initially had access to two InnovFin financing tools (a loan and an overdraft facility) offering a bank guarantee covering 50% of investments. When this expired, new financing was granted with the support of Luxembourg’s Office du Ducroire in order to support international expansion, followed in 2020 by a loan guaranteed by the Luxembourg government against the backdrop of the challenging healthcare environment. Various financing tools and institutions have therefore been instrumental in enabling the company to grow and expand its product range to its current level in an environment of trust, constructive dialogue and transparency.
IMPORTANT BREAKTHROUGH DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC Having developed this technology for industrial applications, MPG started to focus on the healthcare segment in 2018. “We came into contact with IMEC (the R&D hub of the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre in Belgium), which asked if we were able to graft antibodies onto their electronics. We ran a product development project with the University of Leuwen and it worked,” continues Marc Jacobs. Based on this research, the team joined the first round of Luxembourg’s Fit4Start HealthTech programme at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, acquiring more experience and expertise in the field. In the midst of the 2020 healthcare crisis, MPG took on a new challenge for Luxembourg hospitals and companies, developing plasma-based technology to optimise the protection offered by respirator masks made in Luxembourg, thus creating virucidal surfaces. “This is a first. We ran a product development project with LIST, which produced incredible results and demonstrated the feasibility of the project,” adds MPG’s CEO. Today the company is confident that it can offer a commercial solution. Several Belgian and Luxembourg companies have already ordered machines equipped with this technology. These sales will boost turnover. “The investments and risks that were taken are paying off. Today, we have industrial solutions to offer to a broad range of industries, and can treat any type of substrate.”
The number of machines equipped with MPG technology ordered by Luxembourg and Belgian companies for delivery by the end of March 2020.
“As the bank of entrepreneurs, BIL is able to support innovative companies and start-ups like Molecular Plasma Group thanks to its participation in the InnovFin programme. We were convinced by the idea developed by the company, its expertise and its project initiators, and were keen to provide support using the InnovFin tool. We have been able to assist with the company’s development over the last four years thanks to the various forms of financing that have been set up. This a success story for us.” Philippe Wensen, Head of Start-ups at BIL
“I have always had a good relationship with BIL, so they were the obvious port of call”
D I G I TA L E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
Sometimes You Have To Say TO PROTECT YO U R VA LU E S THE ENTREPRENEUR-CHEATER SYNDROME by : Aurélie Boob photo : Kaori Anne Jolliffe
If a woman’s career is a permanent choice, the career of Gaëlle Haag, co-founder of StarTalers, is a perfect illustration. As a mother of two children and a «committed» entrepreneur, she approaches 2021 without anxiety despite the health uncertainties, because being a digital entrepreneur means being agile and relying on technology that simplifies daily life to stay the course. WOMEN’S FREE REFEREE
StarTalers was created in 2018 to enable women to invest in financial products that are ethically responsible or close to their concerns. They are students, married, single, retired, mothers, employees, entrepreneurs or divorced. Women who choose StarTalers want to officially take in hand what they unofficially manage 90% at home: money. They certainly want to invest for their retirement, their children’s studies, but also contribute to reduce social and educational inequalities in the world and fight against global warming. After a first life in the banking sector and two children, Gaëlle Haag has chosen to help these women overcome their fears or prejudices about the financial sector and, since 2020, has also been offering numerous information sessions in public (and in the form of webinars). “The statistics show an increase in retail investors since March 2020. This is due to the fact that with containment, the free time factor has encouraged interest in investments. The webinars that we have organized have also confirmed this trend since we have registered more than 600 registrants in the first 3 months of confinement,” she explains. Has the taboo on female investment finally been lifted? “Some women think they need 10 information sessions before they start, whereas it is more concrete to play the game, to understand the speculative mechanism when you have suffered your first decline in value! »
Fear, the idea of feeling illegitimate is a recurrent feeling among women since the sector is largely marked out by their male counterparts. As an entrepreneur and mother, Gaëlle Haag is no exception. “There is the minority aspect, the fact that you have to prove yourself because you don’t check the usual box. There is a form of unconscious selection in the eyes of our male interlocutors which questions our credibility as an entrepreneur. They think they have to protect us, imagine us not very ambitious... For my part, I am lucky that private logistics works a lot thanks to my husband”. Leaving the office at 2pm to help the last one do her homework? Participate in a selection of pitches over 3 days while there is the school show? All active women have this kind of dilemma... How many men? Gaëlle Haag observes that the models who best live this duality are women who have played their role as mothers after having passed a delicate stage in their activity. “You can’t please everyone, you have to know how to say no to a potential partner to protect your values. I made choices that I assume, even if they can be guilt-ridden.” DIGITAL ENTREPRENEUR, A FORCE AGAINST THE COVID BLUES? For StarTalers, 2020 will have been a difficult year, but Gaëlle says she overcame “better than others at a glance”. A collateral effect of the confinement is the distance of support that is created with the second circle: that of friends and family in the broadest sense. “Being an entrepreneur is already supporting a certain loneliness, living with your company day and night...so during the Covid period, we would sometimes like to be able to share more things”. “Fortunately, being a digital entrepreneur makes everyday life easier because everything is simpler when everything is dematerialized, sharing and collaboration are a standard and create flexibility. The sunny days have a brightening effect on viruses as well as on the morale of entrepreneurs: in 2020, StarTalers expected to obtain CSSF approval to sell financial products to a mature community. It will be for the middle of the year, after a second fundraising round that should materialize in mid-April. The positive investment at StarTalers is to be understood literally and figuratively.
GO OS TY Startup
THE APP T H AT M E E T S YOUR APPETITE
“The goal is to deliver it as quickly as possible and to ensure a quality service.”
by : Marc Auxenfants photo : Goosty
The culinary ordering platform intends to differentiate itself via its algorithm that reduces delivery times and pays delivery drivers a fair value.
And to make sure they get their money's worth, with only one order per trip, Goosty has chosen to pay more than the market: "It can be up to 10€ per order depending on the distance," Roderich explains. "If he delivers 3 orders per hour, the remuneration will be fair for him. "We also make our business model available to anyone who has a car and wants to earn money." The platform chooses its driver according to his or her availability and proximity to the restaurant. The driver closest to the restaurant will be assigned the order.
THE CUSTOMER CAN FOLLOW THE ROUTE OF HIS ORDER IN REAL TIME
"This mobile app is our biggest differentiator from our competitors, who still only have a website," insists Alexandre Roderich. "Apps are really in the air, they reach more young people, and the user experience is by far the best. Goosty currently collaborates with over sixty partner restaurants, from Italian to Indian, from wine cellar to cheese shop, from cereal lover to kebab king; enough to have access to great culinary diversity. For the service, the trio asks them 19% of commission, against the 27 to 30% practiced within the market, according to Roderich. The platform employs about forty delivery people, freelancers and students. "For now, almost all of them are satisfied and are happy to accompany us in this adventure," says Roderich. "We bring them to our headquarters in Luxembourg City, and ensure everyone knows each other. This way we have succeeded in building a real community, a "Goosty Gang", which carries true team spirit.
The idea emerged in March 2020. Stuck at home, Alexandre Roderich, Alexandre Mithouard, two serial entrepreneurs, and Hadrien Branca, a former cook and chef de partie, could no longer stand waiting for their meals, ordered on traditional delivery sites, and eating them almost lukewarm or cold when they arrived. "It can take an hour from the time the order is placed to the time the pizza arrives, because the delivery drivers receive several orders at the same time. And, if the customer is last in line, he’s guaranteed to receive a cold dish," they regret. So they decided to develop Goosty, a delivery app that reduces waiting times to a minimum. Initially, they wanted to create cloud kitchens, i.e. catering only in professional kitchens, without service rooms. However, the project turned out to be too ambitious and capital-intensive. Determined to help restaurant owners who were closed due to the pandemic, they opted for the app, a technology they felt was not yet well developed in this segment in Luxembourg. The timing of the launch is perfect: end of November 2020. To deliver as quickly as possible, the chosen concept was simple: "Unlike our competitors, we organize a single order per delivery person. This way, the dish keeps its quality and freshness," explains Alexandre Roderich. "The goal is to deliver it as quickly as possible and to ensure a quality service." To guarantee this quality of delivery, the three partners insist on good manners, politeness and the dress code of the delivery men.
TA N C E W IS
D I G I TA L E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
IDE A DS S by : Charles-Louis Machuron photo : Charlie24
CHAR L I
Till date, the startup has developed a mobile application that allows drivers to order immediate roadside assistance from local professionals at a clear and upfront announced price via their smartphone. Fast & Curious chat with co-founder & CEO Tommaso Lemessi.
What is your startup about?
What's your USP?
Charlie24 applies the digital economy to roadside assistance in just a few clicks. We disrupt the legacy roadside assistance model by easing the process: with Charlie24, you don’t have to wait in line at a call center anymore. The best suitable and available local service provider is dispatched without delay at the best price. We created Charlie24 to re-design and innovate the roadside assistance business model by using mobile technology, real-time data and machine-to-machine communication providing the best in class customer journey when ordering roadside assistance. How did you come up with the idea?
Charlie24 offers a full, digital and simple turnkey roadside assistance solution, from automated registration and entitlement checking to streamlined operation service provision and claim management operations. Charlie24 allows the assistance industry to streamline operations and reduce cost while providing their customers the kind of real-time and connected digital experience they now expect. Our B2B2C and B2B programs are additional services that can naturally be proposed in the already existing ecosystem and community for loyalty and customer retention programs but also aiming at cost savings for fleets. Do you plan to launch the app on other markets?
The co-founders of Charlie24 have 30 years of cumulated experience in the roadside assistance industry. We have been working together for the leading player in the market. What did you achieve so far? We have launched our B2C brand in Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy as well as at the French and German borders. We have established several B2B partnerships in those markets. In Italy, we have created a Join venture with a leading insurance company on the market. Who are your clients / partners?
Our business partners are car dealers, insurance companies, assistance companies, tow companies, fuel companies, car maintenance chains, and tire distributors.
We do not have a downloadable app. We are a webapp service because we want our service to be accessible from any connected device in the easiest and fastest way possible. We are extending our services to four other markets this year. What's next? We are launching new products for the B2C and B2B market to attract existing segment of the market with new light, valuable, simple and flexible solutions providing the additional services the automotive industry is looking for.
TIQUEST by : Aurélie Boob photo : Kaori Anne Jolliffe
“The idea is to transpose into physical commerce the best practices related to the processing of online business data.”
Alexandre Marquet, 30 years old, co-founder of TiQuest recounts the days of how it all started... The adventure started in January 2020 with an interesting concept: to propose a dematerialized ticket offer via a box connected to the merchant's printer that digitizes and collects tickets. Contrary to what already exists, the receipt of the ticket does not require the customer to leave his contact details. "It's linked to the payment card. The application connects directly to the user's bank and will read the transactions, but cannot generate them directly." "When the transaction appears, TiQuest instantly sends the digital receipt to the user's smartphone. "This is all thanks to the European PSD2 regulation that introduced the concept of Open Banking. In addition, the analysis of the anonymized data recorded via this link will allow the owner of the establishment to better forecast inventory and make decisions based on recognized information rather than instinct. Data that they would not have access to without the solution. "The idea is to transpose into physical commerce the best practices related to the processing of online business data. Combining the anonymized individual data from each point of sale to extract information and create collective intelligence available to all," says Alexandre Marquet. THE PIVOT THAT COULD OVERCOME THE CRISIS At the summer reopening, all coffee shops offered a digitalized menu in the form of a QR code that brought the consumer to a more or less readable PDF. TiQuest then had the idea of offering restaurants a free app that easily generates "clean, readable and optimized for a smartphone screen" digital menus. To go further, the startup also offers the consumer the possibility to order and pay at the table (via Digicash), while of course offering the digital receipt. This is a way to hook the market with a timely tool to build loyalty and then offer them the packages of the initial model. And rebelot! While the deployment was in progress, the coffee shops closed down for a second confinement at the end of November, which is still going on...". TiQuest integrated into the Fit 4 Start acceleration program last January. "The Luxembourg authorities have postponed the reopening of the cafés and restaurants scheduled for mid-March to 2 April. Horeca professionals are asking for an early reopening of the terraces... We are following all this closely". Are you looking for a simple and free digital menu solution to offer to your customers during the reopening? Go to digitalmenu.lu and let us guide you!
A S TA RT U P B O R N DURING COVID
TiQuest is a young start up hosted at LCI (Luxembourg City Incubator) which was created a few weeks before the first lockdown in 2020. Not easy when offering a dematerialized receipt and data management technology to coffee and restaurant owners...
D I G I TA L E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
What is Magrid about?
Magrid is a language-free pedagogical program designed for school-setting with heterogeneous student populations to help teachers and students in the process of teaching and learning math accordingly. A new paper by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) reports that 40% of the global population does not access education in a language they understand. The policy paper, ‘If you don’t understand, how can you learn?’ These students are at risk of obtaining poor education and lagging behind their native peers. The language-free property of Magrid is an innovative aspect that may reduce the barrier of language from math education for second language learners encountered in multilingual school settings. Given that Magrid is free of any language requirements such as text or voice-over, thus can be easily used by all students including the typically unserved population of second language learners, hearing-impaired students, and language disorders.
by: Silicon Luxembourg photo: Magrid
University of Luxembourg Incubator-based startup MaGrid won the WSA award in Learning & Education category. A great first and international recognition for this Luxembourg startup led by Tahereh Pazouki.
How did you come up with the idea? Magrid is the result of my PhD. study at the University of Luxembourg, in Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing (LUCET) with the support of the National Research Fund (FNR). The initial idea was to do research around the development of numerical abilities in young students to find a solution for training these abilities in second-language learners who are not familiar with the language of instruction. In Luxembourg, in cycle 1 (students who just start schooling), over 60% of students are not familiar with the language of instruction which is Luxembourgish. Second-language learners are at a risk of obtaining a poor mathematical foundation and lagging behind their native peers already in pre-school level. Magrid was developed with the idea to close the performance gap between native and non-native speakers and provide all students with equal access to high-quality math education. Who can use your solution? All the students including the typically unserved population of children: › WITH MIGRATORY BACKGROUND (second-language learners) › WITH LANGUAGE PROBLEMS (dyslexia, language disorders) › WITH HEARING DIFFICULTIES › WITH FINE MOTOR AND GRAPHOMOTOR DIFFICULTIES (dyspraxia) › WITH MATH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES (suspected dyscalculia) You won the WSA in Learning & Education category. What does it mean to you? Winning the WSA award shows me the importance of the learning and education subject and the unmet need for developing solutions explicitly for students with special needs. It further motivates me in taking steps towards in creating a better and more sustainable future for all. In your opinion, will education become 100% digital? The education may not become 100% digital. However, I strongly believe that one form of education could not work for all students. The field of educational technology goes beyond improving teaching or learning in a classroom or a domain. It involves solving a range of educational problems, such as addressing the problems of special students, handling the problems that come with diversity in education (e.g., age, gender, language, region, background), and tackling the difficulties encountered with learning and assessments.
Letz go equal in digital
I N T E R N AT I O N A L
The event, organised by WIDE in partnership with MEGA gathered 80 students and more than 200 attendees for a pitching conference. Taina Bofferding, Minister of Equality between Women and Men, participated in several activities to emphasize the importance of gender equality in digital, STEM and tech entrepreneurship.
W O M E N ’ S D AY
Always with his Angell
D I G I TA L E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
Co-founder of co-living startup Cocoonut, father of 3, Aurélien Dobbels is an entrepreneur on the move! He just received his brand new smart bike from the French brand Angell. Test.
Highly readable touch screen Connected mobile application to unlock the bike Speed, pollution index, battery level, GPS, calories, electric assistance: everything is there!
A little more than 20 Km/h average.Aurélien has all the qualities of a champion in the climbs of the capital
Navigation, Sport or Free Ride: each day has its own driving mode.
Soft mobility above all, especially in town.
Aurélien’s tech pleasure, always on the lookout for the latest innovations.
Wouldn’t this be the first co-living space to open?
With his bike, Aurélien can carry tons of cocoonut.
Turn signals and vibrating handles to indicate the direction. The little hidden extras
publications JUNE ISSUE COVER STORY: BioHealth & MedTech SPECIAL REPORT: Digital Inclusion
SEP. ISSUE COVER STORY: Education Technologies SPECIAL REPORT: Real Estate
DEC. ISSUE COVER STORY: Space Technologies SPECIAL REPORT: E-sports & Gaming
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