The better the question
How do you scale a start-up scene in your spare time?
Start-up founders often lack experience, and don’t have the resources to hire consultants.
The start-up culture in Belgium was relatively late to develop. But in the last 10 years, several major success stories have kick-started a thriving new business community.
Like most start-ups around the world, these companies begin with a great idea and a strong desire to bring it to life. However, many founders lack the experience to scale their business, or the resources to engage a professional services firm to help.
This common challenge led two EY consultants to ask: how do you scale a start-up scene in your spare time?
The better the answer
Pro bono consulting to close the founder knowledge gap
Helping founders secure funding and gain entrepreneurial expertise.
Cedric Teyssen, an EY senior consultant (Ernst & Young Consulting Services CVBA), and Ruben Schoenmaekers, a lawyer within EY organization, have made it their mission to reach out to these start-ups and guide them on their journeys. Driven by a passion for entrepreneurship and experiences working with start-ups in Belgium, they devote some of their limited free time to visiting incubators around Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt and Brussels, meeting with founders and helping them answer their most pressing questions. These sessions are friendly, informal and free of charge—a one-on-one consultancy where founders can talk to Ruben or Cedric about funding, commercial strategy, law or even which term-sheet clauses to watch out for.
Although these sessions typically last no more than an hour and a half, it’s often enough to resolve a founder’s most urgent issues and kick-start their funding journey. And, through this efficiency, Ruben and Cedric can meet with many different companies in a short amount of time, building valuable relationships throughout Belgium’s burgeoning start-up scene.
The better the world works
Building a start-up scene that works
Forming valuable relationships with founders and encouraging entrepreneurship.
In the last two years, Ruben and Cedric have conducted more than 100 sessions with Belgium-based start-ups, helping dozens secure funding in the process. From their perspective, each of these conversations is an opportunity to demonstrate exceptional client service — instilling professionalism, compassion and experience at the very beginning of a company’s journey.
What differentiates Ruben and Cedric from their peers is a true passion for start-up culture and a drive to serve the specific needs of those companies. They go beyond their everyday responsibilities to connect with entrepreneurs who need their help, meeting their concerns and knowledge gaps with empathy and experience. They’re creating a better working world for companies that might not be able to afford their services today, but know whom they can trust when they can.
As these organizations grow and professionalize, they will have the resources to contract professional services in an official capacity, enabling further strategic growth and sustainability. Often, they choose to come back to the trusted relationships they’ve built with Ruben and Cedric. In fact, one of these companies has since become the largest brewery in Ghent and has asked Ruben to serve on their consulting board.
Their work is not only inspirational but scalable, because Ruben and Cedric have a broader set of resources to draw upon. They work as part of a wider EY initiative called EYNovation™ —where individuals who share Ruben’s and Cedric’s passion and knowledge are getting in on the ground floor with entrepreneurs who need their know-how and support. Thanks to people like Ruben and Cedric, these interactions not only spread the EY entrepreneurial spirit and experience, they introduce a new generation of businesses to the purpose of building a better working world.