How I left Belgium

When I tell folks that InSilico DB (@InSilicoDB) — our startup aiming to bring the genome revolution into the mainstream — is based in Belgium, they ask “But… why? 😟”.

Seeing the #Betech [closed (!) community] discussion about Belgian unicorns, or more precisely the lack thereof, prompted me write this post.

The environment for entrepreneurship in Belgium is not ideal. There is excellent research, but this rarely translates into businesses (we are a university Spin-Off, yay!). I looked up Belgium in the Startup Compass Startup Ecosystem report.

Do you see Belgium?

If you actually search for “Belgium”

Mmm …

But is geography such a big fuzz that people make of it?

#Not… So, why wait?

Here is a step by step guide that I used to get out:

  • Go remote: install Slack, use GitHub, Speak, put everything on the cloud (or better, make everything public in your blog). Disappear from your offices and travel around the world, or go to the beach.
  • Open your Twitter preferences and set location to San Francisco (if you’re an IT startup), Boston (Biotech), London (Fintech), …
  • Follow influencers in your field on Twitter. For entrepreneurship in general, some VCs are really good and entertaining: Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman, etc.
  • Tweet to the influencers in your field, engage in conversations, and sometimes go to the conferences they meet in.
  • Do your meetings on Skype, and be sure to turn the camera on (wear clothes)
  • Advertise your product on social networks
  • Many other things that you could think of… Post them in the comments!

But, you probably heard that investors won’t invest in your company if they can’t go biking to your main office. First, not all of them say this (see some discussion about geographical factors in VC investment in 9 Tips to Cold-Call VCs Like a Pro from Rodrigo Martinez). For the others: who has the digital catch up to do?

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I am also on Twitter as DNAvid.

[Note that I see publishing as a process, so this post will likely change as I get input about it.]

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