One in three startup founders suffers from daily stress

One in three startup founders suffers from daily stress

Startup Well-being Barometer 2021

Antwerp, 17 August 2021 - Roughly one in three startup founders (39%) experience stress almost every day, and one in four (26%) find that stress dominates their lives at least several times a week. That is nearly twice as high as last year, according to the annual Startup Well-being Barometer from accelerator Start it @KBC and its partner Mensura, the external occupational health and safety service. The good news is that, in line with last year's findings, entrepreneurs are satisfied with their jobs.

For the second year in a row, Start it @KBC and Mensura organise the Startup Well-being Barometer. More than 75% of the founders surveyed in Belgium's largest startup community answered questions about their stress levels, energy levels, physical and emotional well-being, mood and involvement at work. Looking at the results, it is immediately apparent that the coronavirus pandemic and the instability of the business landscape have left their mark. 

In addition to the number of founders experiencing stress at least once a day each week roughly doubling, one in four (26%) reports having no energy left at least several times a week. Almost half (44%) feel that they are running behind at least several times a week, while a quarter (25%) of founders find themselves losing their patience and easily becoming irritated almost every day.

But there is also good news. Like last year, the startup founders remain very satisfied with their job, with 81% liking it almost all the time and 77% often feeling excited by their work.

Blurring personal and work boundaries

Two out of three founders (60%) indicate that their emotional and physical complaints are clearly related to their startup business. For 83%, work and time pressure is the main culprit,  while just over half (53%) struggle to find a good work-life balance. Last year this figure was 22%. 

Julie Daenen, Health & Safety Expert at Mensura: "Startup founders are passionate and motivated people who do everything they can to bring innovative solutions to market. That goes hand in hand with risks, uncertainty and stress. The pandemic severely limited opportunities to relax and disconnect, blurring the line between work and home. In addition, the crisis created additional economic challenges. This helps explain the higher stress figures this year', says . Chronic stress wreaks havoc on mental and physical health in the long run. Self-care is therefore incredibly important."
Julie Daenen, Health & Safety Expert at Mensura
Julie Daenen, Health & Safety Expert at Mensura

Workshops and yoga sessions

Together with its partner Mensura, Start it @KBC has been offering this type of self-care at the Well-being Academy since August 2020. They focus on improving the mental and physical well-being of startup founders by offering a number of services, including workshops on the human side of leadership, management, dealing with stress and personal productivity. Founders can also attend yoga sessions or arrange one-on-one meetings. These sessions have been greatly appreciated, as reflected in an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.

Lode Uytterschaut, CEO of Start it @KBC: "It’s great to see that startup founders are so passionate about their job, but this is also where 'the danger' lies. Because this drive, together with a lot of stress, can cause the founders to go beyond their limits and end up in burnout. We try to support them as much as possible with numerous workshops and personal conversations. In the coming year, together with Mensura experts, we will focus even more on the founders’ mental well-being.”
Lode Uytterschaut - founder & CEO Start it @KBC
Lode Uytterschaut - founder & CEO Start it @KBC
Infographic Start-up Wellbeing Barometer 2021 - Start it @KBC & Mensura
Infographic Start-up Wellbeing Barometer 2021 - Start it @KBC & Mensura

The new pitch wave at Start it @KBC is starting soon. Startup founders can submit projects until 20 September at

Tips and tricks for improved mental well-being by Start it @KBC & Mensura 


  • Try to tackle no more than three major tasks a day and focus on single-tasking rather than multitasking
  • Turn off e-mail and social media notifications
  • Plan regular breaks and actually take them
  • Don't compare yourself to others and try to take a step back every now and then


  • Make relaxation a top priority
  • Make sure you're doing enough to eat healthy, exercise and relax 
  • Set aside time for your relationships with family and friends
  • Create a good sleep routine and allow your day to 'end' before you go to bed (e.g., by taking a bath) and make your bedroom ‘sleep-ready’ (so no mess and no smartphone)
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Saar Dietvorst
Saar Dietvorst Press Relations Start it @KBC


About Start it @KBC

Start it @KBC is Belgium's largest accelerator and supports and promotes entrepreneurs with an innovative idea and scalable business model. The international Start it @KBC community consists of a network of more than 830 startups and scale-ups that share their experiences and expertise.

Start it @KBC was founded in 2014. The accelerator is founder-centric and offers their program completely free of charge. Start it @KBC does not take shares in the startups and only imposes one condition: the joint pursuit of maximum economic and social impact, diversity and sustainability.

The Belgian hubs of Start it @KBC are located in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk and Leuven. In addition, Start it @KBC has international offices in Budapest, Gyor and Prague and pied-à-terres in New York, San Francisco and London. Since 2017, Start it @KBC is a member of the exclusive Global Accelerator Network (GAN), which offers the startups additional expansion and sales opportunities abroad, as well as a wealth of benefits from technology partners worldwide.

Start it @KBC has strategic partnerships with large companies to better support startups. Today, strategic partners of Start it @KBC are Accenture and KBC. Since 2019, Start it X also immerses intrapreneurs of corporate companies in the Start it @KBC network.  

Startups who want to participate in the one-year Start it @KBC acceleration program and wish to make free use of mentoring, network, workshops and co-working spaces, can apply throughout the year via the website:

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