Ghent based startup WeGroup is a Belgian InsurTech company which is engaged in connecting insurance providers with a growing group of digital clients. Arvid De Coster, the CEO of WeGroup, visited the EY wavespace in Antwerp to talk about his experience with The Factory’s EYnovation program.
In addition to other events, EYnovation sets up regular workshops about advisory boards for startups. “WeGroup started with an advisory board from day 1”, Arvid De Coster explains. De Coster gladly gives advice as a startup founder during EYnovation’s workshops. “On the one hand, I believe one can learn a lot from experts and people who have already walked the same path. On the other hand, there is a lot to learn from people who are walking the same path at the exact same moment as you are”.
“Better to fail fast, than to stretch unnecessarily and fail slow”
“Nearly every startup I know that has set up its advisory board in a later stage says: ,‘I wish I had it set up earlier’.” De Coster tells us why having an advisory board for your startup is a must-have. “We needed it to be able to test our initial assumptions. We were and still are three boys of 25 to 26 years old. Our knowledge was small in comparison to that of someone who already has 30 or 40 years of experience in the sector. They gave us insights we did not have at that moment”. De Coster believes that such boards can give you, on the one hand, a lot of motivation and valuable info for the roll out of your product. On the other hand, however, it is possible that, after having taken into account their input, your idea might not be as valuable as you thought it would be. At that moment, you have to draw conclusions, and pivot where possible, so that you can put your product more successful on the market. “Better to fail fast, than to stretch unnecessarily and fail slow”, he adds.
Next to having a ‘classic’ advisory board, WeGroup also has a User Advisory Board, in which clients (or potential clients) give their product user feedback. “For startups, I think this is the most valuable feedback you can get”.
WeGroup got connected with The Factory’s EYnovation program via the Belgian FinTech and InsurTech ecosystem. “From an early stage on, EYnovation was present in the FinTech and InsurTech world and -in our opinion- successfully unites many of these companies. This way, we got connected with EY, and with the companies in EYnovation’s network”, Arvid De Coster affirms. Thanks to the collaboration with EYnovation, WeGroup got connected with the startup acceleration programs in Warsaw. Their international expansion turned out to be a success story. “The EYnovation Go Global initiative has been extremely interesting for us, despite the fact that Warsaw was not even one of those trips. We connected with a lot of people during these missions. The Go Global missions, thus, certainly played a role in our landing in Poland”.
In the growth phase, a startup encounters a lot of tough challenges. “WeGroup is scaling up in a very positive way”, says Arvid. “In Belgium we currently have 25 employees, and we opened offices in Warsaw and London. Our ambitions are bigger, of course, so scaling up is definitely our biggest challenge“. We also asked him another challenge as big as scaling up and the response was clear: “Sales. And marketing. Specifically in our business segment. It’s a challenge to tackle this in the most efficient way”.
The added value of a workshop
Time is limited. Undeniably so for a startup, the hours you spend on ‘learning’ need to be very relevant. “Traditional subjects such as funding are always the ones that will never stop giving you additional important info. Moreover, I think Sales and Marketing are the most crucial activities of a startup. Ok, good, you have a top-notch product, but you still have to know how to sell it”, De Coster states. Why not invest your time in a bestselling book? “When listening to a person in real life, the valuable knowledge is internalized easier in your memory”, he answers. “I would be delighted to give more workshops and am very willing to attend them too“, Arvid says. “Even with our limited journey so far, we are already able to spread a lot of knowledge. However, there are a lot more companies that can share even more knowledge from which we can learn from”.
See you again soon at the wavespace, Arvid! “No doubt! The wavespace has such a startup-y vibe, and nice interior (laughs)”.