Dit was mijn 2022

DIT WAS MIJN 2022!

Na het voorbije weekend een gezonde dosis kroketten, cava, knuffels en cadeaus te hebben getankt, is het tijd om even stil te staan bij het voorbije jaar. 

Het voelt goed om, los van de groei van Amotek, te kijken naar de positieve impact die we hebben gecreëerd. We doen ons uiterste best om bij te dragen aan een positievere en duurzamere wereld waar ook onze kinderen van zullen kunnen genieten. En laat dat nu net dé doelstelling zijn die ik zelf het hoogst in het vaandel draag.

Een (met kroketten) gevulde maag helpt om te reflecteren op het voorbije jaar. Op zijn beurt helpt reflecteren om de dingen in perspectief te zetten en te relativeren. Want het was niet altijd enkel groei en succes. Ik neem je graag mee doorheen enkele hoogte- en dieptepunten van het voorbije jaar en de inzichten die ik daaruit heb gehaald.

Reizen die de ogen openen


Ik heb het grote geluk dat ik zowel voor m’n werk als privé veel kan reizen – één van mijn grootste passies.
Hoe cheesy het ook klinkt, het opent écht je ogen. In 2022 ging ik onder meer naar Dubai, Miami, Armenië en Japan.

Je kan moeilijk géén bewondering hebben voor de explosieve groei en super-innovatie die Dubai de laatste jaren op de kaart heeft gezet. Ik keek mijn ogen uit maar kon ze niet sluiten voor de oppervlakkigheid van het super-kapitalisme. Persoonlijk voel ik veel meer voor de Japanse filosofie: Respect én zelfrespect komen op de eerste plaats. We verliezen ons in ‘het Westen’ wel eens in keuzes die we maken uit de onstilbare drang naar groei, de druk om te presteren en hoe onze medemensen ons waarnemen. Het is vaak makkelijker om ‘ja’ te zeggen dan ‘nee’. In Japan lijken mensen meer hun persoonlijke grenzen te respecteren en mensgericht te ondernemen – waarden waar ik zelf veel belang aan hecht.

Ik neem ook graag even de tijd om stil te staan bij de oorlog in Armenië, waar nagenoeg geen aandacht aan besteed wordt. Samen met Claudiu Matei en Davit Gharakeshishyan richtte ik enkele maanden geleden Saltatech op, een bedrijf in software development in Yerevan, Armenië. Half september schrok ik dan ook erg van het nieuws dat er weer gevochten werd op de grens tussen Armenië en Azerbeidzjan. Enkele honderden jonge mannen verloren er het leven. Toch kwam dit conflict amper in het nieuws en blijft internationale hulp uit.

Vele mensen maken zich ernstige zorgen over de langetermijnsvisie van Europa. Ons continent wordt wel eens lacherig ‘het Bokrijk van de wereld’ genoemd. Wel, laat mij dan maar in Bokrijk wonen.
Ik stap graag in het vliegtuig naar een ander werelddeel, maar ik land even graag terug in Zaventem. Het is hier zo slecht niet.  

 

Van een ijzingwekkende stilte naar oorverdovende gitaren


Dit jaar waren mijn vrouw Chloé en ik in blijde verwachting van onze tweede zoon, Maximiliaan Na complicaties is de zwangerschap halfweg beëindigd met het verlies van Maximiliaan tot gevolg. Deze moeilijke periode werd getekend door een ijzingwekkende stilte. Ik had nood aan deconnecteren. Aan herbronnen en even onbereikbaar te zijn. Ik trok me dan ook even terug aan de kust. Hoe onwezenlijk het soms lijkt wanneer je er middenin zit, uit een intens verlies put je ook altijd kracht en inzichten die erg waardevol zijn.

Het einde van de stille periode was oorverdovend:  Een blitzbezoek aan het “Alcatraz Festival” in Kortrijk. Mijn eerste heavy metal festival. Zie je mij er al rondlopen? Ik had het niet verwacht maar wauw, wat een beleving. Ik zoek graag de grenzen van mijn comfort zone op om inspiratie op te doen, maar dit was next level. Fantastisch om te zien hoe iedereen gewoon écht zichzelf is. Het prachtige contrast tussen mensen in erg donkere kleren, die licht uitstralen in de omgang met anderen en hun favoriete muziek.  

Wat ik meeneem naar 2023?


Als ik terugkijk op de avonturen in 2022 is mijn grootste inzicht een klassieker: “Less is More”.
Iedereen die mij goed kent weet dat plezier hebben voor mij onontbeerlijk is – en dus kies ik elke dag weer voor de dingen die mij plezier geven: de capaciteiten van technologie, samenwerken met anderen, jezelf en anderen beter maken. Meer heb je eigenlijk niet nodig. Op business vlak betekent dat realistische, haalbare doelen formuleren en deze in het achterhoofd houden wanneer je beslissingen neemt. Zorg ervoor dat deze ook meetbaar zijn, zodat je ze af en toe kan toetsen aan de realiteit. Breng wat meer Japanse filosofie in je bedrijf en leg de lat niet telkens hoger. Sta even stil bij wat je verwezenlijkt hebt en wees daar tevreden en trots op.

Amotekkies in Japan

Amotekkies in Japan

From 5 to the 9th of December, Amotek is taking part in a large economic mission with 110 Belgian companies and organisations. 

We’re discovering cutting-edge technology in Japan, joining in on conferences and meeting a lot of interesting people!

Shout out to the 3 other start-ups: 
Technology companies Ayes (Antwerp), A-Membranes (Antwerp) and Alberts (Wijnegem). We have been selected for a new Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) program to present Flemish technology to Japanese industry. 

GET TO KNOW LAWRENCE, CO-FOUNDER OF AMOTEK’S INNOVATIVE BLOCKCHAIN SPIN-OFF

 

 

Lawrence Landeloos co-founded Onegrid. In this joint-venture with Amotek, he’s building a platform for creators and their tokenised communities to spin-up a gated member area – grid – to inform and involve members in a more effective and enjoyable way. All powered by the blockchain.

Hi Lawrence, before we start the interview, can you explain exactly what Web3 is and what NFTs are?

 

It’s not easy to explain it simply and briefly, but I’ll give it a try.

 

In Web 1.0 or ‘read only Web’, internet protocols allowed anyone to share information on the internet. In most cases you had to set up your own servers. There were no central entities controlling or owning that data. The internet consisted of static websites for users to consult information (read) and where user generated content was almost non-existent. Think of Yahoo in its early days or other news websites.

 

In Web 2.0, also called the social Web, large platforms such as Facebook and Spotify came into the picture. Those platforms are built on top of these internet protocols and provide users with tools to easily generate and distribute their own content. We call this ‘read and write’. This has brought massive value to the users. But there is a flip side. Because all data is stored and managed centrally, these platforms gained a lot of power leading to control and censorship with huge take rates on the value generated by its users.

 

In Web3 , we notice a shift towards ownership of our data  – digital assets. We call it ‘read, write, and own’. Some call it the web of value. It’s the ambition to go back to the spirit of Web 1.0, but with the functionalities of Web 2.0. We want to return ownership to the creators and to the users. Decentralised technologies like blockchain play an important role here.

 

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are Web3 primitives and can be seen as unique digital certificates encrypted on the blockchain. They can represent anything of value. Think of memberships, artwork or even a piece of real estate. The advantage is that these NFTs are fully owned by the user because they aren’t stored in a platform’s private database.

 

 

How do you contribute to this innovation with Onegrid?

 

We are developing a digital platform where NFT project founders can unite, inform, and involve their members in one dedicated space. The access and usage rights are based on the tokens that sit in a user’s crypto wallet. Creators that want to launch their NFTs can also do this through our platform. For now, we provide manual support but plan to build a simple configurator to do it themselves.

 

We’re first releasing the community management solution because we noticed there are already many projects seeking for a more seamless and integrated member experience. There is no environment to get a simple overview of your collectables, member status, how the project is evolving, new utilities, discussion, … Later on, we’ll open the platform to creators planning to launch their projects.

 

In addition, we also receive many questions to create a tailor-made solution. Larger clients want active guidance and custom development. To meet this demand, we founded Onegrid Studio. It’s a collective of web3 builders and future thinkers that dedicate their time to supporting clients end-to-end in launching their blockchain-based projects. One example is the web3 music project of Buscemi. Together with 49Meta we configured the smart contracts and NFTs.

 

Eventually, we’re planning on bringing the platform and studio closer together. This way you get a huge synergy. While using our platform, clients notice they will need custom solutions to realise their creative vision. Because the whole technology is new and there aren’t that many tools available, we are very happy to be their guide in this tech-jungle.

 

How advanced are you in developing the platform?

The last eight months consisted mainly of designing different ideas and market testing them, taking into account all technological possibilities. After pivoting and learning for a long time, in July ‘22 we set on our final concept that we are going to develop. Since then, we’ve been working on the product architecture and design. The beta launch is planned for the end of January 2023 in collaboration with a few web3 communities.

 

What does your business model look like?

In our core we want to be a community-led solution, progressively decentralising power to our active users. We’ll be launching our own grid – OnegridDAO – and each client can claim an on-chain membership NFT when spinning-up their grid. For now, we’re still exploring different financial models. It will be a combination of a tiered subscription adjusted to the usage (e.g. amount of admins, members, extensions). The first step is to get traction and engagement. We are closely collaborating with a first wave of pilot communities to learn and adapt if needed. Once a number of communities are onboarded, we can give them the opportunity, including new creators, to launch tokens on our platform. We plan to charge a small fee on the total sales.

 

What is your scope? Which customers do you focus on?

We focus mainly on creators/founders who have launched NFT projects with a community focus. We want to give them tools to better manage their members.  An example of this is the POP CPG community (‘crypto package goods’). This is a membership of builders interested in developing, creating, launching and building Web3 projects. In this community they bring talent, incubators, investors and much more to the table. In a later phase we’re looking for creators who are interested in launching their first project.

 

We don’t focus on digital artists. There are plenty of platforms for that. Our focus lies on individuals who want to build a project that involves a community and want to use NFTs as a vehicle. We also don’t focus on large DAOs with a co-governed treasury using their own utility and governance tokens.

 

Why did you start this project?

I get a lot of energy from innovative new technologies. Thinking about how to reimagine business models and companies has always given me a lot of energy. The use of blockchain and tokens is a game-changer in the long run. I’m convinced of the importance of digital identity and digital ownership. I strongly believe in shifting power to creators. We’ll see a rise of new projects and collectives, bottom-up ignited by a few, but funded and scaled by a decentralised network of users sharing the same purpose. Call it the next generation of internet communities. But this time more emotionally engaged and economically aligned through the tokens they own.

 

What used to be a case of goodwill, is now a little more robust thanks to tokens and crypto. I find it very inspiring to see how individuals transform from consumers to contributors.

 

Do you have a technical background yourself?

In the past I was very much involved in digital innovation, which naturally results in a proper understanding of technology. The last year I have completely dedicated myself to understanding all aspects of the blockchain, the tokens, and its application layers.

 

What does the future hold for Onegrid?

We especially want to launch a number of innovative and valuable NFT communities on our platform. Important is that these projects are user-friendly, so that even people with little knowledge of blockchain can use them. Ideally, we would then open up the platform to all creators so we will see a lot of communities emerge on our platform.

  

 

Why do you believe in Web3/NFTs so much?

The idea of ownership, digital identity, and the networks orchestrated around this is something I believe in. Being part of a project that interests you, having a say, and being rewarded isn’t something new. Only this time you capture value through the tokens you own. You might perceive it as a light form of shareholding. This time you have a financial and social stake. Additionally, you can endlessly build experiences on top of these tokens. It works more seamlessly. This is the advantage, but there is a need for a central place to facilitate this and bring everyone together.

 

What is the most important thing you have learned as a young entrepreneur?

Start building one thing early and test it with a number of users/creators instead of thinking it over yourself. This is something I do … but still too little.

You also really have to involve top people. Other people have a different view on certain things. This really has to be from day 1 and cannot wait until you have a vision or a pitch deck.

 

How does Amotek/Filip Smet help you? What is the added value? How does it accelerate your growth?

Filip is very well connected with a lot of creators but also with professionals in the industry. It has already helped a lot to get in touch with him and his network and share ideas and the development of the platform. But the Amotek team also has great added value. You will find some real pros who are always willing to think along and roll up their sleeves. In the beginning as a startup, you don’t have many resources. Amotek in turn has a growing number of resources and the team has a lot of energy to think along.

 

What advice do you give to other starters?

Just do it, start. Find people you think know some stuff or are interested in your ideas. It’s normal that you tend to think it over and look for solutions but throw it in groups and communities. You will certainly learn from it.

Who is Filip Smet?

WHO IS FILIP SMET?

Entrepreneur Filip Smet founded his first internet company, Interhost Solutions, at the age of 23. This grew into Lemon Holding – which quickly developed into a company with 150 employees and an annual turnover of 30 million euros.

Today he is founder and CEO of AMOTEK Technologies, a software incubator for start-ups.

Filip is a mentor at Birdhouse and at Vlerick – and today also Entrepreneur in Residence at the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy.

EXPERTISE

“As an entrepreneur you go through a lot of peaks in the beginning. That growth is very nice. You also do everything at that moment: from cleaning toilets to selling projects. That makes it awesome: you are responsible for your own training.”

FILIP'S STORY

As a graduate, Filip Smet worked briefly at IBM, but that was not enough to satisfy his hunger. He preferred to start his own business, but could not really count on support in his environment. “A lot of people said, ‘Wow, what are you going to do now?’ Those kind of reactions triggered me to go even further.”

In the end, it was his father-in-law who gave him the ultimate push: “What have you got to lose?” Smet started Interhost Solutions, a hosting company, without too much investment cost. “The great thing about hosting? It’s a very recurring business model. From the moment you have a customer, they usually stay with you for five to ten years. As long as the service is good and the price is right, you have a very valuable customer base. People don’t like to switch hosting providers.”

Unfortunately, the hosting market was  consolidating. On the one hand, there are major players such as Combell, who buy up a lot of portfolios. On the other hand, you have the big boys, like Amazon Web Services. That is why Interhost Solutions quickly evolved into Lemon, an all-round software development company. Only then did the first major projects come in. “Actually, it was my intention from day one to develop our own products. That ensures continuous innovation in your company.”

When his company grew from five to thirty employees, he felt his role change from entrepreneur to manager. “I suddenly had to delegate and structurally monitor everything that was in that header,” says Filip.

In addition, it caused his company to become a completely different organization. “I saw that some people could no longer follow through. I had let certain people grow into positions that they really couldn’t handle. Just because you’re a great technician doesn’t mean you’re a great CTO.”

That was an important phase in which he had to make decisions and where he had to be very picky about the people he gathered around him in order to continue to grow as a company.

“Somehow you don’t want to let that go because it feels like it’s your baby. That’s the hardest thing I’ve done so far. But once you are indispensable you have really created value as an entrepreneur.”

According to Smet, it is extremely important to look for complementary profiles. “Certainly don’t hire people who you think look like yourself. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You have to constantly surround yourself with people who are smarter and better than yourself!”

The next step was to build a group of companies under one roof. Where complimentary services were offered, where other entrepreneurs co-created and new ideas were built. Road21 was born and grew quickly. The transition from Lemon to Road21 has given Smet a lot of freedom. “We decided not to carry the name any further and to throw it all together with a good friend of mine. Road21 gave me the opportunity to focus more on entrepreneurship and less on the operational side. I absolutely loved it, but I also missed the zero-to-one thrill of start-up environments. I decided to start Amotek Technologies and focus on that.”

With Amotek Technologies, Filip wants to rely on his experience to build a new brand. One that focuses on the human side of business. To experience the thrill of start-ups and to support new ideas. 

Finally, Filip Smet gives some wise words to fellow entrepreneurs: “Don’t hesitate too much, just do it and then evaluate afterwards. That has brought about very nice things for me. Perhaps less beautiful things here and there, but you also learn from that.”

“It is especially important to be positive. I also believe in self-fulfilling prophecy: you have to dare to dream to make it come true. If you’re positive and just try, what’s the worst thing you can blame yourself for? You learn most from experiences, but you have to dare to face those experiences. You have to dare to take that first step.”

Amotek as entrepreneur ambassador at Start-up Antwerp.

Amotek as entrepreneur ambassador at Start-up Antwerp.

On the 31st of May, Amotek was invited as ambassador at the Start-up Antwerp get together featuring other promising start-ups. We gladly joined in on this fun opportunity to learn, share and establish new connections. 

“Start-up Antwerp aims to help new entrepreneurs by assisting them if they have questions, making contacts with other entrepreneurs and sharing know-how. In addition to monthly pitch sessions, network moments and speed dates with established values, there will also be a fortnightly podcast.”

Machine Learning Categorized

Machine Learning
Categorized

The future is unpredictable. Nobody knows what’s coming. Yet we learn our lessons from history and set expectations for our future all the time. We recognize and categorize situations. We get suspicious when something is not behaving according to our expectations.

 

Computers don’t learn history like we do. They do not assess like we do – and they won’t make decisions based on how they feel. Yet they can help us quite a lot about what will happen, by learning from what has happened. With computers we are able collect lots of data. Lots of historical data that can help us to learn about the future. Historical data in which we can find patterns and behaviours.

 

Let’s use an example here: the current energy prices. We know those prices are increasing and we know the energy prices can change widely. Imagine we do have a business which can store energy (e.g. hydroelectric energy storage). We’d love to know the coming electricity prices to maximize profit. We can use machine learning here to create an algorithm that gives us a prediction of the coming electricity prices.

 

The first step in creating this model is to gather the historical data – the training data. This includes historical electricity prices (the target, what we want to estimate) as well as the data that impacts these electricity prices, like the weather forecast at the time (the features). Next, we’ll investigate the impact of the each feature we have on the electricity price. With the relevant features we can train a model that estimates the electricity price based on our features. We now can use this trained model to estimate electricity prices of the future.

 

When we try to predict a value, like in the case above, we can talk about regression. Another example of supervised machine learning is classification. Handwriting recognition is an example of classification: you can train a model with known input, but the number of possible outputs is a fixed amount in this case.

 

Both samples above are examples of supervised machine learning models: the algorithm is trained with historical data from which we know the target. But there is more: unsupervised machine learning. Here we can see two main categories: Clustering and anomaly detection.

 

With anomaly detection we search for patterns in our incoming data. When data deviates too much from the general patterns in this data, we talk about an anomaly. An example of anomaly detection is to detect faulty machines in a production environment.

 

Clustering is the other unsupervised machine learning category. In here we will group data automatically based on similar properties. Recommendation builders are known to use clustering algorithms: A clustering algorithm will group users of a service with similar preferences here, on which users within this group can now get similar recommendations.

Vlerick: Entrepreneur in Residence

Vlerick: Entrepreneur in Residence

Entrepreneur Filip Smet founded his first internet company, Interhost Solutions, at the age of 23. This grew into Lemon Holding – which quickly developed into a company with 150 employees and an annual turnover of 30 million euros.

Today he is founder and CEO of AMOTEK Technologies, a software incubator for start-ups.

Filip is a mentor at Birdhouse and at Vlerick – and today also Entrepreneur in Residence at the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy.

  • Who am I?
    SME Challenge, SME Excellence and Executive MBA at Vlerick Business School
  • Masters in Commercial Engineering at KU Leuven

The importance of digidevelopment for your business

The importance
of digidevelopment for
your business

If there is one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that the future is digital. When all stores, co-workingspaces and offices were closed, it was most important for almost any business to be online. This trend has been stable ever since. When talking to entrepreneurs about their online business, they tend to focus on being found on Google (because when Google doesn’t know you, you don’t exist) or having a well-running webshop. But being online means so much more.

WWW

One of the digital reflexes (starting) entrepreneurs have is setting up a website and social media accounts for their business. This is of course highly important because of the visibility of your business. But have you thought about your goals before you had this reflex? Is a website in your case the best solution to reach your target? What about an application or digital platform? And if a website/application/digital platform is your go-to solution, how on earth do you make an awesome one? If you don’t know who you want to reach and which way you do that best, you’re lost in this digiworld.

Personal solutions

Every business has its own challenges and strengths, but when you’re running one, you’re not always aware of them. You know what they say: it takes two to tango, but it also takes two to develop. Whether it’s about looking into your digital needs, developing a great idea you’ve had or working out a solution: an entrepreneur can’t do it all alone. Your business is your baby, so you want to keep it personal. That’s why you need a professional who gives you solutions personally made for you and your business.

In need of some digital development? Contact us here.

How to predict the future and maximize your profit

How to predict the future
and maximize your profit

Let’s be honest to start with. The future is actually not predictable, despite what the title says. Nobody knows what’s coming. Yet we learn our lessons from history and set expectations for our future all the time. We recognize and categorize situations. And when something is not behaving according to our expectations … we get suspicious.  Computers don’t learn history like we do. They are not taught to take in lessons from the past as we are. Yet they can help us quite a bit about what will happen by learning from what has happened. With computers we are able to collect lots of data. Historical data that can help us to learn about the future, because it contains patterns and behaviours.

Algorithms

This matter calls for an example: the current energy prices. We know those prices are increasing and we know the energy prices can change widely. Imagine we have a business storing energy (e.g. hydroelectric energy storage). We’d love to know the coming electricity prices to maximize our profit. And what do we discover? That machine learning is perfect to create an algorithm that gives us a prediction of these rates.

The first step in creating this model is to gather the historical data – the training data. This includes historical electricity prices (the target, what we want to estimate) as well as the data that impacts these electricity prices, like the weather forecast at the time (the features). Next, we’ll investigate the impact of the each feature we have on the electricity price. With the relevant features we can train a model that estimates the electricity price based on our features. We now can use this trained model to estimate the electricity prices of the future.

Adding value

So is the future completely predictable? Of course not. Will you be 100 % certain about a positive outcome according to the algorithm? … Also not. But you will be more prepared, and have a high certainty rate when you use machine learning to learn about the future for your business.

Do you want to know what the future holds for your business? Contact us here.