For the second consecutive year, Trends-Tendances published an exclusive selection of 50 Belgian start-ups to invest in. The list aims to discover the “hot” startups in Belgium and is organised in partnership with Leansquare, FundMe and startups.be.
More than 200 applications were submitted, and 50 particularly promising Belgian start-ups were selected by a jury of renowned Belgian and French investors. The selection of 50 startups were chosen because they are exceptional investment opportunities.
We’re proud to say that three of the top 50 shortlisted companies have been featured on MyMicroInvest!
They are: AproPLAN which is currently conducting a crowdfunding campaign, Creo², a successful campaign completed in June 2016, and Opinum, a successful campaign completed in December 2015.
Here is a short summary of three MyMicronvest companies, adapted from the French article in Trends-Tendances by Christophe Charlot and Gilles Quoistiaux.
Construction app that helps you build faster
AproPLAN enables you to replace pen and paper on construction sites with a digital tool. The idea might seem obvious, but before AproPLAN began in 2012, there were only diffuse tools, and they were not necessarily industry-specific.
In construction, many different professionals must exchange information and files. AproPLAN regroups everything, for everyone.
"We wanted to replace the paper and the use of Outlook for the construction sector because there were many problems of collaboration in the monitoring of construction sites”, explained one of the co-founders, Thomas Goubau.
Concretely, AproPLAN's solution consists of a SaaS (software as a service) model, which is software accessible at any time and from anywhere via the cloud, via apps and the Web. Customers pay for monthly licenses whose price varies according to the number of users.
The startup promises efficiency, and as a result, increased profitability, by reducing no less than "75% of the administrative work time earned", a significant decrease of common industry delays.
AproPLAN’s small team of 20 people has already attracted top customers including: Besix, CFE, Eiffage, Matexi, Colruyt, BAM and many others. There are more than 3,500 business customers (and 40,000 professionals in total). Therefore the company is already earning nearly €100,000 of monthly turnover, with a target income at of more than €1.2 Million this year. Recurring revenues are 85% from Belgium and 10% from abroad. But the trend should be reversed as AproPLAN begins to target international customers, beginning with Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Sales are made either directly or through distributors, meaning that even though AproPLAN targets a SaaS solution accessible from everywhere, the business of AproPLAN remains "local" and requires a sales force on the ground.
The two founders, Thomas Goubau and Renauld Lacroix, do not lack ambition. Within four to five years, they aim to have only 10% of their business in Belgium. To prepare to reach this goal, the company raised a capital increase of 1.5 million this past summer, bringing the value of share capital to €3.75 million. At the time of writing, AproPLAN is fundraising €1.5 million through MyMicroInvest. These funds will enable the company to accelerate sales, and hire about ten people in January.
B2B software for charity
Creo² is creating a new way for companies to participate in charity projects. The start-up installs tablets in local shops such as restaurants, hairdressers, florists, etc. When the customer pays, they are asked to choose which development project the business should support. Example projects include planting a tree in Zambia to combat deforestation, or contributing to a measles vaccine in an Médecins Sans Frontières project in Congo, or offer a meal in a soup kitchen through the Red Cross in Belgium.
"NGOs have found that companies reduce their budgets for these projects because of the economic crisis," explained Maxime Van Steenberghe. "We propose a solution that allows them to include the client in their approach and to communicate effectively on their action." Unlike other initiatives that invite the consumer to support a project by adding a few extra euros to their bill, Creo² is completely free for the customer. The business is responsible for the donation to the chosen project.
Instead of contributing donations privately to an NGO, and communicating in an undifferentiated way, the business informs the customer directly, at the time of purchase. The start-up is remunerated with a fixed amount for each registered donation.
It is a smart concept, which is starting to take off. Creo² has already installed its product in 60 points of sale in Belgium, and has financed 3,000 donations per month. Looking forward, the start-up recently signed a deal with White Night, a chain of night shops, and is in advanced discussions with Decathlon. It is also launching its product in Canada, a new test market.
Creo² raised (more than) €200,000 through crowdfunding organised by MyMicroInvest and €100,000 from the new Walloon fund W.IN.G. Currently, it is not seeking a round of financing, rather it is focusing on growth (+ 20% per month currently) and profitability.
Reducing energy bills for buildings
Opinum markets a software to analyse the energy data of a building. The software retrieves information from the heating system, ventilation, smart meter, etc. By combining this data and optimising it, the software creates actionable steps to take to improve the building’s energy use. Opinum's technology is used in 3,000 buildings and the start-up sets its break-even point at 10,000 equipped buildings.
Opinum works with several municipalities, including Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, as well as companies like Microsoft and AG Real Estate. Opinum has already raised €2 million in two phases in 2015 and 2016, including more than €500,000 with MyMicroInvest! It is now seeking to raise funds to begin its internationalisation and continue its commercial development.
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