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imec.istart PODCAST # 9 : My startup is built around a hype market!

In the dynamic landscape of startups, navigating hype markets requires strategic ability and adaptability. This blog dives deep into the approaches employed by founders in the face of hype, featuring insights from portfolio founders Tiebe Parmentier (Tekst) and Jen Rossi (Lopos). 

Lopos' evolution: from social distancing wearables to collision warning solutions 

Lopos, an UGent and imec spinoff, initially developed wearables for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. They pivoted their business successfully into the creation of collision warning solutions for vehicles in warehouses. 

Tekst’s approach to customer inquiries 

Tekst leverages natural language processing for efficient email responses. The platform adapted its focus to meet the demands of automation and multilingual support. Emphasizing data privacy, Tekst prioritizes pragmatic value to customers beyond technological capabilities. 

Patient Approach to Product Development

Tekst's journey highlights the importance of a patient approach to code development. Their first six months were dedicated to engaging with potential customers, conducting market research, and pinpointing the actual needs of their target audience. This deliberate approach allowed them to create a more tailored and valuable solution, avoiding technical debt.


The Hardware Dilemma: Weathering the Investment Landscape 

While hardware startups are often viewed as facing greater challenges in current macroeconomic circumstances, both founders received valuable input from investors. Emphasizing feedback on sales and business development, spanning pricing models and speed-to-market approaches, proved crucial in navigating the complexities of the market.


Navigating the Hype in AI

In AI, recent advancements, such as ChatGPT, have sparked increased awareness and interest. Tekst differentiates itself by prioritizing business metrics over flashy AI technology, proving value through key performance indicators related to customer support. 
The founders emphasize the importance of adapting to market demands and trends, underlining the balance between staying true to core technologies and being agile enough to respond to market shifts. 
AI Research and development evolves at an extremely rapid pace, and it is important to stay up to date with technological advancements and adopt them to remain competitive. The true challenge is to bridge the gap between impressive demos and real-world enterprise solutions. 


The AI Market Outlook

 Looking ahead, both founders envision AI seamlessly integrated into various tools, becoming an integral part of everyday digital platforms. The focus is on enhancing human performance rather than replacing jobs, automating repetitive tasks to allow individuals to concentrate on more meaningful aspects of their work. 


Key takeaways  

(Podcast) “StartUp”, from Gimlet Media.  

There's this podcast I came across that truly resonated with me, particularly as an entrepreneur navigating the startup life. It's called "Startup" from Gimlet Media, and it delves into the intricacies of launching a podcast company – essentially, a podcast about starting a podcast company. The insights shared in that series were truly enlightening, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying each episode. – Jen Rossey, Lopos  

Embracing the “pay it forward” mentality

My go-to advice stems from engaging with the accelerator community in Belgium, such as imec.istart. Their guidance, emphasizing customer interaction over immediate coding, was crucial to our success. Their insights paved the way for our presence today. In the broader startup community, people are willing to help, and the "pay it forward" concept is vibrant. Starting entrepreneurs should remember to reach out for guidance. Building relationships with mentors and using accelerators has been vital. You can't know everything; connecting with others is key. – Tiebe Parmentier, Tekst 
Guest speakers:

Host: Maarten Weyn

Listen to the episode