Why should an entrepreneur consider applying to participate in Fit 4 Start?
Antoine Hron: Fit 4 Start participants get four months of intensive, top-quality support that focuses on issues that are absolutely crucial for success: targeting the right clients, addressing the right market, defining the most suitable business model and so on. They also get a financial injection of €50,000 that they need to match with €10,000 of equity. Our aim is to help them realise their full potential in as short time as possible and make sure that they stand on solid ground to grow and become sustainable over time.
Laurence Hulin: The programme coaches are experts in Lean Start-Up, a structured methodology for rapidly developing products and services. We are also increasingly using the Agile methodology. This method requires companies to be highly flexible and work with well-defined short-term objectives to constantly drive their development forward.
What do you see as the greatest added value of the programme?
Laurence Hulin: The business world is tough. Many brilliant ideas fail. This is often because even though they were good no one heard about them, saw the need for them or found them attractive enough to purchase. Our coaches put the client, and not the technical development of the product, at the centre and constantly challenge the participants to go out and speak to people to get a real understanding of what they want and are willing to pay for. Making the product known to potential clients is also crucial. You often only have a few short minutes to catch people’s attention and convince them that your product is the best. Fit 4 Start participants work a lot to develop the skills to present their offer briefly, clearly and attractively.
Antoine Hron: Luxinnovation has an excellent network of business and innovation contacts, and we have a big role to play as “door openers” for the start-ups. We often introduce them to potential investors and beta users and put them in touch with experts who can help them along the way. We have however discovered that one of the greatest, and perhaps more unexpected, resources is the participants themselves. They help each other a lot by giving feedback and sharing experience and ideas. We have also recently started to arrange meetings between current and former Fit 4 Start participants and these have turned out to be a great success.
What does it take to get admitted to Fit 4 Start?
Laurence Hulin: We are looking for start-ups with really good ideas, great scalability potential and a strong determination to succeed. The most interesting candidates are invited to pitch to a jury composed of experienced entrepreneurs and the five most convincing ones are selected for participation.
Antoine Hron: We receive a high number of applications of excellent quality, not only from Luxembourg and the surrounding region but also from other parts of the world. This shows that the programme has become both widely known and appreciated, but of course it also means that competition is quite fierce. I would recommend investing some time to prepare a really good application and pitch – it requires some work, but if you succeed it will more than pay off.