StoriesStartups31 March 20214 min

#StartitStories: How mentor Walter helped Strain 2 Data stay focused

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Strain 2 Data is a young startup that works with smart sensor networks to identify risks and costs, leveraging predictive maintenance for factories, infrastructure, and many other clients. They’ve been growing like crazy this past year, partially thanks to their great collaboration with mentor Walter Devesse. CEO Jurgen Mangelschots explains how working with Walter has made all the difference:

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From startup to scale-up fast

Jurgen became a full time entrepreneur in 2019, and officially launched in January 2020. Strain 2 Data joined the Start it @KBC program in November. Some businesses suffered because of the pandemic, but Strain 2 Data wasn’t one of them. “Because of corona we had a fantastic growth year. A lot of companies needed monitoring, and there’s more awareness in the sector of the possibilities of Industry 4.0.,” explains Jurgen. “People have seen how fantastic the insights you can create with data are and how they can help keep costs under control.”

The lean nature of the company and Jurgen’s experience in operations were an important aspect of the company’s growth. Walter’s support also played an important role. “By sitting down with our community manager Luc Van Marsenille I discovered our pain points, mainly a lack of capacity to handle incoming requests,” says Jurgen. “Through him I came into contact with Walter. We were on the same wavelength from the start, Walter understood our issues right away. He got where the problems lay without me having to explain it explicitly.”

“Startups have lots of great ideas, but it can be a challenge to translate that into a business model,” says Walter. “That’s my biggest contribution. I find it important to question things, to pose critical questions so that Jurgen can think about certain things and come up with the solution himself.”

Smart cuts for more focus

Together Jurgen and Walter took a closer look at the company, and Strain 2 Data decided it made more sense to offer their expertise as a service instead of just doing projects. “Because it was always project-based, our revenue was always coming in waves and we didn’t have a steady stream of income,” says Jurgen. “Walter helped us see the importance of recurring revenue by offering it as a service. As a result we have more growth.”

“A product is one thing, but you have to create leverage in your business that gives you new income, so you can create new things,” adds Walter. “You can’t always work in a customised way, you need a standard model to a certain extent. I see that challenge not only with Strain 2 Data, but also with other Start it @KBC startups.

Focusing their offer was another good lesson learned. “Before Walter I offered nine different products, now I offer four,” says Jurgen. “Walter helped us trim our offer which was too much, and to learn to say no and manage client expectations. Not an easy lesson: “Learning to say no and to focus on the bigger picture and certain verticals is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs,” says Walter. “But focus is important, because in the beginning you have limited resources and there’s only 24 hours in a day.”

A promising & professionalised future

All in all Jurgen found it to be a very efficient and pleasant collaboration. “We had a weekly consultation with Walter but if it was too busy one week, it was OK. It wasn’t forced, like you see in some accelerators.” Jurgen knows this from experience, having been in different accelerators already. “Start it @KBC makes the difference by delivering tools but letting you handle things yourself and not obligating you. You maintain your own freedom as an entrepreneur which gives you the chance to confront yourself, as opposed to having someone hold your hand the whole time.”

The future looks bright for Jurgen and his startup. “We’ve been working on sales and marketing for a while now, which is also really important,” he explains. “Walter is playing an important role there too, especially in terms of streamlining. Coming across professionally is important.”

Strain 2 Data is counting on benefitting from Walter’s advice as they continue to grow. “Staying focused and learning to say no will continue to be important going forward, but I’m sure that Strain 2 Data is going to get there,” says Walter. “Seeing how much he has helped us already, Walter will definitely be involved even more in the future,” confirms Jurgen.

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