Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Piet Verhoeve, Owner of Origanius, located in Menen, Belgium.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I noticed that many organizations are still building collaboration on compromise or through trial & error. This is time-consuming, expensive, and unnecessary! Win-Win collaboration skills can be learned so you can skip the trial and error phase and jump directly to the success phase. I started my company and the collaboration academy to share my extensive background in setting up successful collaborations based on my the easy to learn, win-winnovation approach.
Tell us about yourself
Smart collaboration is core to my career and my DNA. After my engineering studies at KU Leuven, I obtained a Ph.D. at UGent. During this period, I gained a lot of firsthand collaboration experience in several European projects. As CTO of Televic, I successfully introduced a collaboration strategy that enabled Televic to create innovative products and bring them successfully to market, helping the company grow from a local SME into a world-class enterprise. I acquired strong collaboration program experience as Director ICON at iMinds/imec; the imec.icon program focuses on combining industry and academic research. In 2018 I started the successful co-creation hub Hangar K in Kortrijk. Recently I created and kickstarted the flanders.healthTech ecosystem: a cluster of 80+ companies in digital technologies, biotech, and medical technologies co-creating healthcare innovations.
My large experience on how to build strong & successful partnerships is published in the book Win-Winnovation (available in English & Dutch), which was praised as the best book in the category "Learn & Development." I'm also visiting professor at UGent. In my free time, I love to cook and bake. I'm supporting initiatives that make young people enthusiastic about technical or scientific studies, and I am an active coach at Coderdojo Menen and Ieper.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Building successful ecosystems are challenging due to the vast stakeholder landscape, different interests, and technologies. Using our experience-based best practice approach, we achieved the strong and financial commitment of 80 stakeholders within one year to kickstart the Medvia healthTech cluster organization on a mission to foster open innovation. In the first six months of operation, the ecosystem crystallized 32 project consortia, of which 14 are already funded.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I started with a large business experience, so finance and business processes were no strangers to me. After starting the business, I experienced two things as hard translating my expert knowledge into an easy-to-understand USP for sales and the balance between working in the business vs. enabling a scaleable model. The first one I solved by talking to many people and tryouts, but the latter still remains challenging.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If it feels right, it's OK to take the risk.
- With freedom comes responsibility (you are your own boss).
- Create a trusted sparring network for your company (it is always easier for an outsider to evaluate).
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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