Our Web-Guy visits BetaGroup Brussels to learn about new and innovative technologies here in Belgium.
If you’re interested in the latest technologies in Belgium, you should attend a meeting of the BetaGroup Brussels. Growing from a group of friends that got together informally to share experiences, ideas, and opportunities, the Betagroup now counts 1500+ “Web Entrepeneurs in Belgium passionate about Internet, Software, Mobile Technologies and Online Media.”
The concept is similar to many ‘elevator’ pitch sessions, in which a company (or individual) has 5 minutes to ‘pitch’ their idea, solution or product and respond to a few questions. Past presenters at the BetaGroup included Getyoo, Razwar, Cherry, Desktop Reporting, 8 seconds, Interact, Karzoo, Radionomy, Percussa, and more.
I like this event because it forces innovators to simplify their ‘sales’ pitch down to 5 minute; react to opinions about their ideas; deal with the inevitable demo ‘gremlins’; and convince the room it’s worth their time to find out more about the product. Further, I like that the floor is open to pitches that aren’t completely about the internet, web2.0, social media, or other buzzwords. There have been physical products such as Razwar (online purchase of razors for men and women) and Percussa (interactive cubes used to create and explore sound).
My favourite presentation, so far, has been Percussa‘s presentation about their Audiocubes. In a nutshell, the cubes are programmable devices that respond to touch and their position in relation to each other. The practical application is to use them to control things like music software. I thought Bert Schiettecatte’s presentation (see video from Lab RTBF below) was clean, informative, entertaining, and he was clear about what he needed from the community.
I liked that this technology start-up wasn’t simply a web presence but a finished product that already has customers, showing it is marketable. Also, it is self-funded, meaning Schiettecatte is personally invested in the idea. Not only did he do a live demo, but he kept it simple and used a video to demonstrate a more complex scenario, thereby respecting the audience’s time. These are all things investors are looking for in an opportunity: focus, product, market, and shared risk.
Beyond the presentation itself, I loved the idea – devices that respond to touch and position. On the surface it seems limited to its current application, however, the concept sets off waves of other possibilities and discussions in an environment like the Betagroup. For instance, many recent smart-phones have a touch-screen interface and technologies to detect location, height, and speed. What if more and different devices have that or a similar ability? DJs are already incorporating Audiocubes into their performances, but what if they could use the movement of smart-devices in the pockets of their audience to influence the sound? Or maybe these smart-devices could be used in practical applications like managing traffic flow? Or put this technology into a speaker system so they are able to self-adjust to compensate for their position and the room acoustics. I can probably sit here and think of many more ways to apply these ideas to other domains, but that’s what I love about Betagroup – it inspires me to think outside my day job.
Other than the presenters and demonstrations, the event also brings out investors, media, employers, bloggers, and marketers. It’s a fun evening with free beer and wine, interesting ideas, and lots of possibilities. If you have an idea or product you want to pitch, get in touch with the organizers or join the LinkedIn Group. The next meeting is currently scheduled for 18h30 on December 2nd, 2009 at ULB in Brussels; register for BetaGroup #14 now. Hope to see you there!