Start it @KBC 5 years survey: Economical impact and growth potential of startups is huge

Start it @KBC 5 years survey: Economical impact and growth potential of startups is huge

Start it @KBC opens up new hub in Ghent in the presence of Mathias De Clercq and reveals the numbers of the startup community

  • Startups sold for 113 million euros together
  • Startups raised 160 million euros in funding
  • 50% of the financing for startups are from funding, business angels and venture capital; crowdfunding does not appear to be a popular way of collecting finances
  • Only 1 in 10 sales meetings lead to a signed contract: startups have to learn to close the deal
  • M/F/X wanted: more than 1.000 vacancies at startups within Start it @KBC
  • No lonesome cowboys: a startup team consists out of 4,3 members

Gent, January 29th 2019 — The startups within Start it @KBC have already realized more than 113 million euros in sales together and will recruit more than 1.000 people over the next 6 months. These are some of the most striking results of a survey conducted by the largest accelerator in Belgium with its active startups and alumni. The first results were presented on the 29th of January during the official opening of Start it @KBC Dok Noord, which is the startup accelerator’s new hub in Ghent. “Start it @KBC celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, therefore it seems to be the perfect opportunity for us to measure our economic impact and to identify the sales and financing figures of our startups”, tells Lode Uytterschaut, founder of Start it @KBC. “The figures confirm a number of assumptions and allows us to customize our offer to the needs of startups and scale-ups in our country even better.”

The startups within Start it @KBC have generated more than 113 million euros in sales together over the past five years. In addition, they raised around 160 million euros in funding. This was shown from the interim state of a survey conducted by Start it @KBC with the active startups and alumni from the network. Nearly 60% of the surveyed companies completed the questionnaire.

As an accelerator, we are first and foremost very proud of the sales figures of our startups. We mainly focus on sales and plan to do so even more in the future. ‘Client money’ gives startups the best possible chances of survival, more so than funding”, says Lode Uytterschaut.

Closing the deal
As it turns out, there is still a lot of growth potential: only one client meeting out of ten leads to a signed contract. “Startups often seem to think that they have a contract when the client gives his or her verbal agreement. Reality shows that the sales process only begins then, and unfortunately a lot of leads get lost this way. This is often caused due to a lack of experience. As an accelerator, we train our startups in that last and very important phase: closing the deal”.

Crowdfunding is not very popular
Remarkable: less than 2% of startups raise money through crowdfunding. Subsidies, venture capital and business angels together count for nearly half the funding of the startups. “Many startups are subsidized by the government at an early stage. The question is whether this government funding does not just ensure that startups remain in their R&D phase for too long. As a starting company you have to try to validate your product in the market as quickly as possible; to find clients who want to pay the right price for it. Your product does not have to be ‘finished’ a 100% before you launch it on the market, after all, it will never be finished. Don’t find more angels, find buyers!”, according to Lode.

Wanted: a 1.000 M/F/X
For those who thought that startups often operate alone: barely 7.3% of the startups are lonesome cowboys. On average, a startup has about 4,3 employees.

It turns out that startups are important employers: the preliminary respondents (57%) all plan to recruit 450 people over the next 6 months together. If you extrapolate that to the entire community, the startups within Start it @KBC have almost 1.000 new vacancies to fill.

B2B country Belgium
With 80,3%, the large majority of startups are active in B2B (52,8%) and B2B2C (27,5%). Only one fifth choose for B2C. “We suspect that some startups begin with a B2C model, but over time find and look for more and more opportunities in the B2B market. Investors confirm time after time that Belgium, with its small number of inhabitants but strongly developed network of companies, mainly is a B2B country”, says Lode Uytterschaut.

85% of the startups operate in digital or technological domains. That means 15% of them are non-tech. If you look at the M/F ratio in the companies, female entrepreneurs are still underrepresented, although their number is increasing.

The deadline for the next pitch wave of Start it @KBC is March 7th 2019. Until then, startups who want to apply for Start it @KBC can submit their file via


Note for editors:
The survey started on December 5th 2018. A total of 451 active startups and alumni of Start it @KBC were surveyed. 57% of them completed the inquiry. The results mentioned in this press release are, in other words, an intermediate score. Some figures were extrapolated based on the preliminary results.

Start it @KBC continues to enrich the survey with the data of the missing active companies to gain better insights into the needs of the startups.

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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