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A few key points from RENT conference (#rentconference) introductory speech

The RENT conference started in Bodo (Norway) with a panelist discussion on entrepreneurship and more precisely on the role of entrepreneurship in the current crisis situation that the world is going through.

I don’t want to sum up the whole discussion. Rather I’d like to stress a few striking facts or figures mentioned by the speakers.

  • Professor Sarah Carter mentioned that 6 sectors were identified in Scotland as promising for the future of the economy. Those 6 sectors are however under-represented and contribute only a tiny fraction (<1%) of GDP. Why is it that  so-called low-growth low-tech companies get so little attention?
  • Out of 100 start-ups created, 4 of them contribute more than 50% of the jobs created
  • Paul Westhead stressed the need to promote enterprise sustainability and survival, especially in low-tech sector. He suggested that policy makers offer customized support to the different types of entrepreneurs rather than providing one-size-fits-all support
  • Paul Westhead (again) rightfully said that it’s easier to avoid a looser than pick up a winner.


My take:

I came back fully energized from this discussion. It’s great to finally listen to people who go against the general practices and suggest new ways of doing things. One aspect seems very important to me. So-called “Gazelles” (high-growth companies) do exist but the world is still mainly made of “normal” low-tech companies which also require a dedicated approach and support. My impression is that governments should recognize the need to help those companies and offer them a new kind of support.  What I’ve believed for years, and as suggested by Paul Westhead, is that entrepreneurs should be challenged by external advisors. I’m maybe preaching for my own but I do think that the major part of failures could be avoided if entrepreneurs had their business idea challenged and removed from the main pitfalls. All too often I see entrepreneurs of those low-tech sectors required to prepare business plans and the like before even thinking about whether their venture has a tiny chance for success. I see entrepreneurs unprepared and yet ready to register their company, unable to explain me why I should be buying from them, without real differentiation and sometimes with no idea of what the business looks like.

Unfortunately, as a reaction of a candidate entrepreneur revealed a few weeks go, not all entrepreneurs are willing to have their business idea challenged. It’s much more comfortable to live with dreams until those very dreams are challenged by the market itself.


Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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