Halfway through 2016, here are 10 companies from Belgium’s startup ecosystem that should be on your radar
Belgium had a great start in 2016: Startups and scaleups so far have raised $208 million. At least 33 Belgian scaleups raised $1 million or more in the first half of 2016, placing the small country on an impressive number 5 position in Europe in terms of number of funding rounds worth more than $1 million, putting them at the same level as Spain.
The Belgium startup ecosystem, collectively branded as #BeTech, is dominantly oriented towards business-to-business, relatively more than any other European startup ecosystem and similar to the Israeli ecosystem. The major industries for startups are HealthTech, AdTech, Manufacturing, FinTech and HRTech in the country.
Who are the shakers and movers this year?
Some names are obvious: Showpad, Moovly, Take Eat Easy, Menu Next Door, TrendMiner and Real Impact Analytics have made the headlines this year due to significant funding and international expansion.
But there are also a number of new kids on the block making waves: Kazi, ScriptBook, Parcify, Appiness, Social Seeder, iBeauty, ThreeAndMore and rising FashionTech talent Jasna Rokegem are crushing it. And forget Pokémon: both OJOO and Chestnote provide a superior gamified outdoor experience.
Without further ado, we believe these 10 promising startups hold a lot of promise in 2016 and beyond.
1. Happy Flights (TravelTech, B2C)
For those who suffered a flight delay, a missed connection or a flight cancellation, Happy Flights offers support to get financial compensation. It just launched in 2015 and is part of the Start It @KBC incubator.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: for winning a case in court against low-cost airline giant Ryanair, notorious for not paying compensation.
2. Awingu (Business Services, B2B)
Awingu gives users secure access to corporate IT resources such as applications and data via a web browser enabling BYOD and mass mobility. The company has offices in Ghent, New York and San Francisco. It has raised $9 million to date and is backed by strong corporate shareholders. Awingu is an Incubaid alumnus.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: for successfully challenging industry giants VMware and Citrix in their own core domain with a superior zero footprint solution.
3. AproPLAN (PropTech, B2B)
AproPLAN is a collaborative app for architects, contractors and engineers that aims to change the way the construction industry works. AproPLAN has raised close to $3 million in venture capital to date and is based in Brussels.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: for bringing innovation to a pen-and-paper industry that is struggling with stagnating productivity and low profit margins. After already dominating the Belgian construction market, AproPLAN is rolling out to the rest of Europe.
4. Teamleader (AdTech, B2B)
Teamleader is a unified CRM, invoicing and project planning cloud solution offered at affordable prices. Teamleader has offices in Ghent, Madrid, Amsterdam and Berlin. It has raised a little over $4 million in venture capital to date.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: Launching a CRM solution successfully in a red market dominated by juggernauts Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP and showing traction across multiple countries in Europe is simply impressive.
5. icometrix (HealthTech, B2B)
icometrix provides clinicians with advanced measurements on their patients’ brain MRI scans to improve personalized care of people with neurological disorders. It also acts as an image analysis expert in clinical trials and research studies. The company has an office in Leuven and Boston. It has raised over $2 million in series A this year.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: In addition to the rapid market growth and sophisticated deep tech image analysis platform (icometrix is a university spinoff), making a difference for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and brain injury patients all over the world deserves kudos.
6. UnifiedPost (FinTech, B2B)
UnifiedPost is a provider of document exchange, financial supply chain, credit management, mandate management and e-identity services. With about 200 employees, it can hardly be called a startup. The company has headquarters in La Hulpe and offices in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Romania. It attracted over $11 million this year in venture funding.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: The company dominates a number of transactional based fintech activities such as pay slips in the Benelux. With such a strong installed home base, growth capital from experienced investors and the recent on boarding of key executives, the company is poised to expand in the rest of the old continent.
7. Small Teaser (MediaTech, B2B)
Small Teaser empowers communities by giving them the tools to publish a stunning digital magazine or news website. It uses an innovative royalty-based advertising model ensuring that all contributors get their share in earnings. Small Teaser is based at the Corda Campus, part of the iMinds incubator, and attracted seed investment in 2016.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: The dynamic founders managed to come up with a clever technology solution wrapped in an innovative business model in a sector where traditional media companies are still searching for a viable way to monetize content.
8. PieSync (Business Services, B2B)
PieSync is connecting major SaaS applications (i.e. Google, MailChimp, Salesforce etc), and provide two-way (!) syncing between any of them, keeping their data continuously consistent. The company is based in scaleup city Ghent, is part of the iMinds incubator and raised $1.6 million in 2016.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: In a world where the API economy is emerging and companies are using multiple SaaS and apps platforms, a solution that lets data flow between silos without needing to be an IT expert, it’s not surprising that the company has paying customers in over 30 countries.
9. Rombit (Manufacturing, B2B)
Rombit develops Internet of Things platforms for smart industries and smart cities. The company has delivered different point solutions such as BadgeControl.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: Raising a hefty $11 million in Series A from the most connected Belgian investor, Michel Akkermans, is fuel for accelerated growth.
10. Zerocopy (AdTech, B2C)
You can’t beat free as a value proposition and that’s exactly what Zerocopy is doing: enabling students to print their courses for free. This free printing service is made possible through advertising in the courses. Their unique business model is smartly combining software, data and hardware, creating a sustainable competitive advantage. Brussels-based Zerocopy is a member of the Duval Union marketing ecosystem.
Why they deserve a place in the top 10: With a lock-in of pretty much all Belgian campuses, it’s written in the stars that Zerocopy will roll out its business model to the rest of Europe sooner rather than later.
Happy Belgian national holiday!
The views expressed are of the author.
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