KBC Entrepreneurial Boot Camp takes innovative ideas to a higher level

‘We know our idea is the best. But how do we convince the others?’ When KBC came calling at Vlerick’s door, the company’s wishes were clear. In a short time, the people at KBC learned to develop their ideas thoroughly and sell them convincingly.

As an integrated bank and insurer, KBC mainly works for retail, SME and local mid-cap clients. It focuses on its home markets in Belgium and certain Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary). As part of an internal innovation contest, KBC approached Vlerick Business School to give its employees a professional initiation into entrepreneurialism.

Sofie Blockx, Corporate Change & Culture Manager at KBC explains: ‘Someone can have a fantastic idea, but if they don’t put it across in a clear and focused manner, they won’t convince anyone. To bring our innovation contest to a successful conclusion, we wanted to immerse our people completely in entrepreneurialism. We loved the idea of the Vlerick boot camp as soon as we saw it.’

Three-day boot camp in idea challenge

Innovation and entrepreneurialism are stimulating. That was KBC’s motivation for setting up a contest for its employees in all the main European branches. Six teams, from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ireland and Belgium respectively, developed an innovative idea that might bring added value to the company.

All the innovative ideas underwent a real metamorphosis during the boot camp, and every single one of them ended up far stronger than before.’
Sofie Blockx, Corporate Change & Culture Manager at KBC

‘To give all the ideas the best possible chance of success, Vlerick came to give us an intensive workshop on idea challenge. We had consulted with them on content beforehand so that the boot camp would be completely adapted to our wishes. These included an intensive three-day course followed by a teleconference part way through the process and, lastly, a review day just before the finals of our contest,’ Sofie continues.

Critical but fair

The Vlerick team was made up of four professors led by innovation professor Walter Van Dyck. The employees sent in their ideas in advance, so that they could defend them live during the three-day camp. ‘Our team was not let off lightly. After they had introduced their idea, it was held up to critical scrutiny and turned inside out to expose any flaws it might have. It was a two-sided approach. The idea was scrutinised, but team members were given thorough coaching on their presentation techniques as well.’ The three days included a good balance of practice and theory. How do you name an idea? How do you make it as watertight as possible? How do you arrive at a successful pitch? How do you convince someone in as short a time as possible? The participants were completely immersed in techniques for creating rewarding entrepreneurialism.

You see a lot of excitement in teams. The excitement comes from the fact that they have seen how to sell their idea. It's only then you see the twinkling in their eyes.
Walter Van Dyck, Professor Innovation Vlerick Business School  

Nothing short of a metamorphosis

The boot camp certainly had the desired effect. As it progressed, the six existing ideas underwent a real metamorphosis. They evolved from vague descriptions that did not always make it clear what the point was into concrete concepts with a clear, focused goal. Ultimately the Bulgarian team won with the innovative idea of a bank card containing insurance information. Thanks to the boot camp, the other ideas were also developed down to the last detail and there is a good chance that some of them will be put into practice. In any case, the participants were highly enthusiastic. As Sofie tells us, ‘On the one hand it was a particularly rich learning experience. Some people were astonished by the possibilities of their own idea, which they hadn’t been aware of before the boot camp. On the other hand, meeting international colleagues led to inspiring cross-pollination.’

The biggest thing we learned is making a concept, making a whole story of our idea and constructing a presentation around it.’
Matyas Kovacs, Participant (Team Hungary)

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