From classical musician to tech entrepreneur



Studying for an MBA while on tour with a philharmonic orchestra may sound unusual. But for Bart Van der Roost, it was a process that allowed him to successfully launch one of the world’s most promising startups.

He started his Executive MBA back in 2012, while he was working as operations manager for the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra. A professionally trained bass trombonist, he’d taken the role to bring together his passion for business and music. He toured frequently and made hundreds of contacts. Which is how he met the two friends who now stand alongside him as co-founders of neoScores. 

When they first approached him with their idea of digitising and selling musical scores, Bart Van der Roost couldn’t see the potential. But then tablets and iPads became available – and the idea suddenly presented a whole new range of opportunities.

Bart says: “When my friends first approached me, there were no tablets on the market and the whole business model would have involved musicians taking their laptops into concert halls.

But when tablets became available, it changed everything. My friends came back to me – and it didn’t take long for me to organise a test concert with the Brussels Philharmonic, using Samsung tablets. I knew we had something – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It was a real eye-opener for me and I started researching. How big was the market? How would we be able to sell scores?”

He signed up for Vlerick’s Executive MBA to learn more about running a business. Bart Van der Roost says: “I started my MBA at Vlerick in 2012. I just didn’t think I had all the theoretical knowledge I needed to really be a good manager. It’s almost as if I was afraid, deep down inside, that someone would come up to me one day and just tell me I was actually doing everything wrong.”

From the very outset, he was blown away by the teaching approach – and even more so when his professors tailored and adapted the course content to his precise needs. And in amongst working, studying and family life, he also found an opportunity to take all his classmates to a concert by the Brussels Philharmonic. He says: “It was a wonderful evening – half of them had never set foot inside a classical concert hall before.”

He adds: “When I was studying, we were sometimes on tour for two weeks or more. I would hurry back to the hotel after the concert, log into Skype and follow lectures. I was doing assignments and preparing for lectures on the bus, for dozens of hours a week for almost two years.

The Executive MBA at Vlerick pushed me to my limits and helped me to understand myself. Because, to be honest, the biggest value I gained wasn’t the knowledge. It was that by the end of it, you know yourself better than ever before.

I now know that I’m a real go-getter, with a passion for enterprise all the time. I also now know that even though I thought of myself as a pretty good team leader, I had a lot to learn. Then there are the connections you make and the huge network of people you’ll know for the rest of your life.”

Bart credits his studies at Vlerick as a key factor in successfully launching his business. In 2014, neoScores was recognised at the Startup Nations Summit as one of the top three most promising startups in the world.

He says: “Studying with Vlerick gave me the confidence to leave my job – and remember, it was a job I loved – to launch neoScores.

The course is so much more than an accreditation. It changes you. It changes the way you see things and the way you operate. It allowed me to become part of a generation of young entrepreneurs. And neoScores? We’re going to be the iTunes of sheet music.”

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