Fellow betacoworker Toon Vanagt made an impression when presenting on startups growth at Techstartup 2016. The least you can say is that Toon as vast experience in the field of startups (check his latest baby data.be) and a solid sense of humor.
He was not afraid to tell the audience about his failures and I found one of them especially interesting : Casius.be.
Toon explained how he burned 4m€ of VC cash to build a … 1.8m€ business. The 4m€ were obtained during the late 90’s Internet bubble and the business plan had been audited and approved by PWC. Toon and his co-founders at Casius.be had the ambition to build a pan-European marketplace to connect home owners looking for a contractor and building companies. Toon admitted they completely underestimated the legal and cultural differences that exist between European countries, as well as the difficulty (and the costs) to locate good building companies. The example he gave of France, compared to Belgium, is so obvious that one may wonder how one could have overlooked this aspect. The distances to be covered in France to locate and assess building firms are considerably higher than in Belgium. So are the costs.
It’s extremely striking to see how the excitement can sometimes make entrepreneurs underestimate the risks. It’s even more striking that the business plan was approved by one of the Big Four. This tells much about the necessity to carry out a sound and realistic market research. This is for me especially true when you, as an entrepreneur, are likely to suffer of the knowledge corridor syndrom.Tags: entrepreneurship, market research