How do other scale-ups do it?

Fast growers will also be central to partnership with Deloitte over next three years

When Deloitte and Vlerick began collaborating on entrepreneurship in 2014, there were plenty of initiatives for start-ups. But once they were ready to progress and had reached the scale-up phase, their managers were generally left to their own devices. The past three years have shown that there was a need for a community of like-minded people. Now our aim is to further strengthen that community and to meet the needs of the new generation of ‘born globals’ with the help of useful benchmarks. Because their burning question remains: how do other scale-ups do it?

“Ecosystem thinking and community building have changed dramatically within Deloitte”, explains Nikolaas Tahon, a partner at Deloitte Private. “They characterise the way we deal with our clients and external partners like Apple or Vlerick. It was a logical choice to work with Vlerick on a community of fast growers within our Prime Foundation Partnership.”

Both in Belgium and worldwide, the consultancy firm places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship. Every year, Deloitte lists the 50 fastest-growing tech firms in its Technology FAST 50 ranking. (On 15 November, the 2018 winner was announced, namely ex-judoka Heidi Rakels’ GuardSquare, ed.) “But FAST 50 is more than just a competition; it is an opportunity for tech firms to network and to learn from one another.”

“Ecosystem thinking and community building are strong traditions within Deloitte” Nikolaas Tahon, Partner at Deloitte Accountancy


This partnership with Deloitte is also of great strategic importance to Vlerick. Dean, Marion Debruyne, elaborates: “When this partnership began in 2014, there were nowhere near as many initiatives for scale-ups as there are today. Vlerick believed that there was a gap to be filled. Through this partnership, we are addressing the issue of knowledge sharing. This is important for fast growing companies that often operate in a state of extreme isolation. What growth strategy are my colleagues using? How about their remuneration policy? On the one hand, we overcome this isolation with our Entrepreneurship 2.0. Programme, in which we have succeeded in creating a valuable ‘peer community’ in a short space of time. On the other hand, our Rising Star Monitor acts as an annual benchmark for Belgian scale-ups founded a maximum of 7 years ago. It is absolutely our ambition to further roll out the Monitor in Europe.”

“Through this partnership, we are addressing the issue of knowledge sharing” Marion Debruyne, Dean, Vlerick

Born globals

A European Rising Star Monitor is consistent with an important trend amongst scale-ups: “Their ecosystem is become more mature, explains Sam Sluismans, another partner at Deloitte Private. Along with the Professor of Entrepreneurship Veroniek Collewaert, he is the driving force behind the Rising Star Monitor, which is charting the strategy of Belgian scale-ups for the third year in a row. “The new scale-ups can act faster because they have more resources and because there are more relevant players on the market. In comparison with them, Showpad or Teamleader were true pioneers. There's a reason why we call them born globals: they've been thinking globally right from the start. How do I embark upon a global partnership? How do I set up an international sales team? At the same time, they remain firmly anchored in Belgium, and Deloitte can advise them on this: how do they attract international capital to Belgium so that they do not need to move abroad? We have been working on this mindset together through local coaching.”

“The new scale-ups are ‘born globals’: they’ve been thinking globally right from the start.” Sam Sluismans, Partner at Deloitte Accountancy

Quality rather than quantity

“When developing a programme for scale-up entrepreneurs, we immediately focused on relevance and quality”, Professor Veroniek Collewaert reflects. “If they are prepared to free up a whole day in their busy schedules to come to our campus, it must be worth the effort! (laughs) That’s why the Entrepreneurship 2.0 programme takes the form of round-table discussions and is by invitation only. In that way, we get like-minded people sitting at the table and discussions with top-level content. We’ve already seen instances where participants have left the room for a moment to check with their partner whether they are allowed to reveal something that is not yet public knowledge. And participants register to come back time and time again. We have already welcomed some 70 CEOs and CTOs.”

“If managers of scale-ups are prepared to free up a whole day in their busy schedules, it must be worth the effort!” Veroniek Collewaert, Professor of Entrepreneurship

Coming Back

The renewal of the Deloitte partnership creates a new three-year horizon. So what lies ahead? Sam Sluismans tells us more: “We both find community building important, so we will be integrating a ‘Coming Back’ component into Entrepreneurship 2.0. On 20 February, we will be bringing together both current and new members for a day. A webinar will follow in June. This is our way of working around participants’ busy schedules. And in the autumn, we’ll be organising a round-table discussion with parallel sessions and a shared networking opportunity.”

Benchmarks for everyone

“The focus of our research for the next three years will be on democratisation”, says Professor Collewaert. “We want to explore the results of the Rising Star Monitor in greater depth by converting them into benchmarks that are accessible to all. These might take the form of a checklist for a founding team based on certain key moments, or a growth scan. All too often, we see scale-ups making the same mistakes, whilst they should be devoting their valuable time and energy to creating the best value for their business.”

Rising Star Monitor
How ambitious are our scale-ups? How do they tackle their ambitions for growth? And how do they reward themselves and their employees?
Download the freeRising Star Monitor 2018 – The Many Faces of Growth’.