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by bart becks⎜BECAUSE MUSIC MATTERS AND STARTUPS ROCK

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Category: Personal

Since begin 2012, we’ve been transferring our life back to Belgium. Over the last 5 years, I’ve been fortunate to live in Amsterdam, Munich, SF and Los Angeles. 4 fascinating and yet completely different cities.

I can say I lost my heart somewhat to LA. Tough city to get in at first, but great to realize your ambitions. When I arrived in LA, ‘something’ was happening, especially in and around the Santa Monica area. I’ve witnessed from nearby the evolution from having some startups, to a movement that wants to become a tech startup hub. LA now wants be a global capital for entertainment, but also for tech, and especially in the intersection of both. Initiatives will continue to grow in the near future, like creating a tech corridor which would create more inflow via universities, more ambitious funding, and hence more ambitious companies.

For some years, I’ve been alternating between LA and Belgium, but that has come to an end. Both on a professional and personal level, it just wasn’t combinable anymore. My little boy will become 5 years old in a couple of weeks, and we wanted 1 school for him. Professionally, most initiatives I’m involved in didn’t generate the traction needed to stay in the US at this moment. We’ve also been testing the waters in Singapore. It looks promising, but all has to be done. I’m a keynote speaker at the global crowdsourcing week in 2013, and this is immediately our target date if we want to achieve and launch something there. More about that later.

So I’m Back in Brussels now. Actually in the very heart of it. It’s a weird place that you sometimes love to hate, but mostly love. Brussels is an intriguing cloud of a city. Brussels center is underestimated as a creative and entrepreneurial center. Mainly because it is unorganized, but that can be arranged. It feels a bit like Santa Monica 5 years back. I don’t know yet if the local government will have the same ambition, so let’s draw a plan and start the talks. Berlin, London, Paris, Barcelona amongst others are all going focussing on talent, ambition and growth, and Brussels could be amongst that list. After all, Brussels is the capital of Europe, and everything is a short flight away.

But I’ll be also spending a lot of time in Limburg. For my foreign friends who are less familiar, Ford is about to close down the factory in this area, where I’m originally born and raised. This means a massive loss of jobs and welfare, so Limburg needs to be re-invented. Every individual has right to a meaningful job, and we need more willpower, work and imagination to create that. There will be initiatives in education, logistics, cleantech, healthcare and probably some other. The goal of the upcoming strategy will probably be double: solve the problems of the closing factory and all impacted people, and create a sustainable socio-economic climate for the future. With some perspective, Limburg is kind of a Silicon Triangle, perfectly placed between the French, German and Dutch speaking community. A mini-Europe as it may. In 2013, I’ll be launching, building and supporting new initiatives over here. Until now it have been mainly week-end work and contributions, but time to step it up. Although it’s not clearly defined yet, this feels like a mission, something that I ‘need to do’.
Besides Brussels and Limburg, fascinating things are happening in Gent and Liège as well. And probably in other centers that I’m just discovering.

Anyway, that’s what it looks like today. It’s a tough climate. It’s a new start. Tomorrow, today is just history. So the future will tell.
But let’s dare to be ambitious. Let’s dare to be proud. Let’s just do it.

bart

It’s each time quite a stress, because ‘winning’ the opening for a major act is such a great moment for our young bands to show how good they really are, to gain experience and ofcourse to enjoy a full house in a great venue. MNM just announced that Newton will be opening for INXS at DeVooruit in Gent on December 12th.

This is the 5th time in a relatively short time that one of our band is selected to do a major opening.
1. Tom Dice for Taylor Swift @ Vorst (Brussels) & Ahoy (Rotterdam)
2. Barefoot & the Shoes for El Fish @ AB (Brussels)
3. Vienna for Avril Lavigne @ Forrest (Brussels)
4. Jerusalem Syndrome for While Lies @ Lotto Arena (Antwerp)
5. Newton for INXS @ Vooruit (Gent)

continue reading…

Moving out and into a new home is cruel.
But we now finally moved out completely from the old, and moved into our new one. It’s kinda the dream home of my wife, and we were very fortunate to buy it at a reasonable price about 2 years ago.

It has been quite a change of stuff lately.
- moved into a new apartment
- found a new school for my little dude
- moving into another home in the US

Often, you see people changing it all – personally and professionally.
Not me though.
I’m keeping my wife forever (I hope!), and I’m into SonicAngel more than ever.
I don’t think I ever had so many job interesting job offers as in the past 2 months. For the ones i really love, I sometimes end up in their board or as an advisor. That is: if I like the business, the company, the team – and I think that I can actually add something and that it actually matters. And if they’ll have me, ofcourse.

Truth is: I actually love to be part of the advising team. I gives me a great scope, and it especially gives me a great feeling and sense of ‘payback’ when I’m able to help an entrepreneur grow his venture or an innovator design and implement his plans.
I’ll give you some examples in later posts.

All my other time is divided between SonicAngel and my family. More than ever.
It has been for the past 2 years, and it will be for the coming years – if health, business and global situation allows.

Over the last 2 and a half year, I’ve been completely into building my own startup. Even if I already had built 2 during my school period, I had to get back into it. There’s a huge difference between being an intrapreneur in a larger group, and an entrepreneur starting his own dream. I’m not saying one is better than the other. Just that it’s really different.

And when I’m having a bad day, I do notice myself listening to Steve’s speech or reading Michael’s post.
Since Steve Jobs has passed away this week, and Michael Arrington is starting over, so it feel appropriate to share both of them right here! They are both very different, and even if Steve’s talk goes much deeper and about life in general, Mike’s post helps in the entrepreneurial pride during a tough day.

Michael Arrinton’s: ‘Are you a pirate?’

Steve Job’s: ‘Stanford speech’

Enjoy. Dream.
bart

Some good this morning from our SonicAngel artists.

1. Vienna will open for Avril Lavigne at Forest National tomorrow 14 september. Some tickets still available!
Check their new single & video of Lonely Shore here
Check their brandnew merch here:

2. Bab will be the lead actress in a VTM Kazoom serie Skilz
Check out Bab’s music on her SonicAngel profile

3. Barefoot & The Shoes are confirmed to open for El Fish at the AB, and will play at the MetroMusik festival this Saturday in Brussels
Tickets for the AB concerts
MusikoMetro Saturday 17/09

Bravo to all – I’m gonna enjoy all of that soooo much !

bart

This night, the partyharders woke me up at least 5 times between 2 and 6 am. Even though we sleep in the center of Brussels, our bedrooms are in a small alley, and it’s always calm. Except this night, when some were so drunk and high from the brussels cityparade (I checked them out), that their only intention was to wake up the people in the neighbourhood. Anyway, there’s worst things in life. But I woke up hating Brussels. I’m already in this hate-love relation with our Belgian capital, and this didn’t make it better. Finally, was able to get some sleep from 7 am till noon.

Then my little boy wanted to go out and play. Every Saturday and Sunday, femke, Charlie and I try to eat together. During the week it’s quite tough, but in the week-end we keep it at least 1 our of 2, if not both. As we’re in between houses (we’re moving), femke wanted to keep on sorting. I took 4 suitcases and all the rest can be deleted. I have my photos online, all my music is digital, I already moved my vinyls, and all the rest is yours to have. But ofcourse it isn’t that simple…

So my little dude and I went for a viet lunch together. He loves wan tan soup and ‘riz sauté au poulet’, which we shared with a bottle of water.  Pretty good.

Then, I wanted to take him for the first time ever to the movies, and the Smurfs looked pretty ok. So I took him to UGC Brouckere. Unfortunately, there is only a French version. No Dutch verson. Not even an English subtitled version.  That is unfortunately also the reality of Brussels. So we decided to take the metro (dude loves metros and trains) and went to the Kinepolis. Movie was OK’ish, even if the acting was even too childish for a 3 year old. And Gargamel is a little to scary, so each time he appeared, Charlie appeared on my lap. But he loved it. So daddy loved it too. In the metro back, he ofcourse fell asleep.

Since then, I felt like working a little. Spent quite a while with a dear friend in San Francisco talking about shared leadership. Figured out how to cross-employ some tools (Zendesk, Mailchimp and SurveyGizmo). Finished the strategic planning for SonicAngel. Read through some crowdfunding studies. Checked out resumés of people that applied. Finished the financial projections for one of our new projects (we’re launching a graphics, artwork, social and video media company this week – combined in 1), and some other. I love to work in calm cafés, while drinking something. I’m now on my 4th Fresh Mint Tea. Am somewhat trying to live healthy, and just lost my fifth kilo since begin July. At least 5 more to go if I want to reach a special goal I’m training for …

While checking out something on IMDB (I’m working also on an amazing movie project),  I accidently arrived at the Soloist. I’m a big fan of Jamie Foxx and of Robert Downey Jr, and this movie I missed for some reason, even if I noticed the billboard all across Los Angeles some time ago. I found a (legal!) way to stream it this evening, and sooo looking forward to end the day with this. Streaming movies is just amazing.  See here the imdb profile: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0821642/ My midnight movie of the day.

I’m going to start writing again. Helps me to sort my mind. And by sharing, I’ve received so much back!

To my friends in the US: I hope Irene keeps away now. Enough tragedies already …
G’night,
bart

 

Tour de France (photo by Belga agency)

About 2 months ago, I was honoured to be asked to become next Chairman of the Board of directors of the IBBT. I accepted, because I believe there is a unique momentum, and that I can contribute to it’s ambition. More about that later.

Yesterday we had the 3rd boardmeeting of the IBBT already this year. It’s a fairly large team around the board table, but the competencies assembled are quite impressive. ‘The Board of Directors of IBBT consists of 16 representatives from both the private and public sector and ensures all research programs meet current social and economic needs’You can find the entire board composition here.

Since many congratulated me for becoming the chairman of IWT, BIPT and other, it’s probably useful to share the mission of the IBBT here:)
I quote from the site:

The mission of IBBT is the creation of highly competent human capital in different aspects of ICT through multi-disciplinary demand-driven research. BBT carries out this multi-disciplinary research for the Flemish business community and the Flemish government. This includes all technological, legal and social dimensions of the development and exploitation of broadband services. The Flemish government invests in multi-disciplinary broadband research, in order to make Flanders a leading and internationally recognized player, in the information society of the future.

IBBT is a driving factor in basic research and demand (industry) driven research, and is becoming an important player for entrepreneurs who are starting companies or who are scaling/accelerating their ventures. Additionally, the innovation and research in collaboration with large enterprises such as Alcatel Lucent, Telenet, Siemens or Belgacom and many others is important and creating a lot of industry initiatives.

We are at a crucial moment, that will define the competitive situation in ict for a lot of years. Much is being discussed about the competitive situation of Belgium and its regions, and I strongly believe there is a unique momentum. A unique momentum to foster the growing entrepreneurial ambitions for starters and growers in ICT and Media, a unique momentum to leverage success cases like Interactive television to other domains, A unique momentum to create industry value from academic research.

I’ll share what’s shareable in the coming weeks, and maybe hope to involve you in the debate. And yes, that makes my California-Brussels habitat switches no easier, but it creates in interesting perspective indeed.

bart

Most interesting article today @ techcrunch: Why Women rule the internet

So, if you’re at a consumer web company, how can this insight help you.  Would you like to lower your cost of customer acquisition?  Or grow revenue faster?  Take a look at your product, your marketing, your customer base.  Maybe you would benefit from having a larger base of female customers.  If so, what would you change to make your product/service more attractive to female customers?  Do you do enough product and user interface testing with female users?  Have you figured out how to truly unleash the shopping and social power of women?

You could also take a look at your team.  Do you have women in key positions? If you’re planning on targeting female customers, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to have great women on your team.

If you are already targeting female customers, have great women working in your company, and are seeing strong commerce and social network effects, congratulations.  You are likely trying to figure out how to handle hypergrowth right now.  Plus your office probably smells pretty good.

Women are the routers and amplifiers of the social web.  And they are the rocket fuel of ecommerce.  The ongoing debate about women in tech has been missing a key insight. If you figure out how to harness the power of female customers, you can rock the world.” (from techcrunch)

Truth being told, also at SonicAngel the divisions managed by women excel compared to those ran by men. Better insights, much better customer and fan understanding, far far better management skills, both financial, strategic and operational. Maybe there lies the key in shifting our company from growth to hypergrowth ?

Fascinating story, and I agree with nearly all of it!

bart

This morning I completed research and testing on a lot of tools. Besides Mailchimp and Zendesk, I’m also liking SurveyGizmo and Uservoice quite a bit! It’s really great to see how much BASECAMP has changed the way the SonicAngel team is working. Really amazing.

I’m also pretty impressed with mailchimp. I cannot imagine 1 reason why you should not use that tool as a startup or any organisation. It cannot be the price (which is something between 0 for up to 2000 emails, and 75 US Dollars per month for 10.000 opt-in email addresses). The DIY design, the tools to optimize layoout, content and tests plus the incredibly transparant reporting. Love it.

Now I’m off having lunch with my dude. Probably a salad or sushi. And after that we’re going to play football in the Brussels Warande park. ‘Heel hoog shotten, papa’ will be my main task of the afternoon.

After that we’re gonna watch Milan Sanremo, and this evening I’m checking out 2 electro bands in Brussels. Common Boon & Gilbert!!

Cool and lovely day with my dude. I love my little man. Like every parent unconditionally loves his kid.
Like Guillaume loved and will always love his little Mattias. Here are the beautiful words of Jean Bosco Safari…

bart

Jean Bosco Safari

Yesterday I called a friend of mine. Lieven Maesschalck is a pretty know physician. Lieven has been taken care of a lot of elite sporters over the last years. Johan Museeuw, Frank VDB, Inzhagi, Henin, Marc WIlmots, Joelle Smets and a lot of others. You can find it out at MoveToCure.

Yesterday on the phone Lieven told me I was doing it again. Working like hell. Sometimes 20h a day. Sometimes 2. But mostly 16 or something. But more importantly: nearly no more sports, few healthy food sessions. So he told me: Bart – stop the crap now. And that a lot of human and ‘be careful’ lessions. And it’s making me think. Startup life and music biz life isn’t the most healty lifestyles around. But I could be doing a lot more sports and eat a lot more vegetables. So starting today: here I go.

That said: WOEHOE Vienna. More about that later!!

bart