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.”

Podcast: The future of Artificial Intelligence

Podcast: The future of Artificial Intelligence

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.

Three non-negotiable rules when working for Amotek

Three non-negotiable rules
when working for Amotek

When it comes to company culture, we’d say we’re a bunch of different kinds of IT freaks – really really driven ones. And although we all have our own characters and personalities, there are three non-negotiable rules when you start working at Amotek.

Have fun

If technology does not sound like fun to you, you’ve probably just not encountered the right kind. Technology IS fun and makes sure other people can have fun too. You can compare our daily interests to a children’s playground, but with techtoys for grown-ups. Such a fun thing to do. Did we just mention fun too many times? It’s fun. Working here is too.

Have impact

Society is rapidly changing and we have technology to thank for that. Think about it: how has the world changed since you were born? Isn’t it technology that made that all happen? We had our first cellphones when we were teenagers. The teens now would laugh at us if they could have seen us play Snake like madmen. They probably have a smartphone since they were ten, playing FIFA online. And that is just one tiny aspect that has evolved in tech.

Technology has an impact on every human being. It’s our job to make the right one, and we are very serious about that. We come to work every day to be able to have an impact: on ourselves, on our colleagues, on our clients and their businesses. It makes the day worthwhile.

Be smart

At Amotek, everyone plays their part in our company’s general knowledge. We’re all building and sharing our know-how with each other. That might sound a bit like this: “I just read a great book about thought leadership – you should read it too. Or wait, I’ll tell you all about it right know.” or “I went to this inspirational session last Monday. We should definitely get in touch with this guy.” This way, everyone gets the chance to learn, grow and better their selves.  This will benefit ourselves, our colleagues and of course our clients too.

Secondly, we love hearing creative and innovative ideas. It’s what makes us get up in the morning. When a start-up pitches their dream and it has that Amotek-vibe, nothing can stop us. Working with start-ups to make their dreams come true, is not only a lot of fun (see first title) but co-working means getting smarter too. Win-win!

Fourth rule

So the title speaks about three rules, but there’s absolutely a fourth: “deliver top-notch services”. When we have fun at work, playing at our own playground, our clients will notice happy Amotekkies. When we want to make impact, our clients will definitely see the difference in their digital projects. And when we’re smart and have the will to become smarter, our clients will encounter some driven IT-specialists who will want the absolute best of the best. These three rules combined are obviously leading to the fourth, because if we follow them, our clients will get a top-notch service.

 

Easy tips to innovate your business, Amotek-wise

Easy tips to innovate
your business,
Amotek-wise

‘Innovation’ is a word frequently used in a lot of business models nowadays. But actions always speak louder than words. So here are some easy tips for you to get ahead in the innovation game:

Believe in your idea

There aren’t a lot of entrepreneurs who make decisions all by themselves without consulting someone for feedback. Our own CEO still needs the opinions of his wife before he takes any big decision. But sometimes, it is better to just go with your own idea before you listen to the opinions of others. Your idea is not theirs. It’s innovative, so it’s new. They don’t know it, so they will always find a way to criticise. And they won’t be able to get the business up and running like you do. Believe in yourself and if you want to get on the innovative entrepreneuring train – just do it.

And if you do like feedback on your project, turn to a professional. Someone who might share your enthusiasm and has just the right innovative know-how for your dream. At Amotek, we have a lot of these professionals!

Dare to sacrifice

Being an entrepreneur can mean you have to sacrifice a couple of things. Your private time, for example. But sacrifices don’t always lead to losing something. Big losses can be big wins too. For example, your company has already invested in a digital solution for a recurring problem. Now apparently you chose the wrong solution. It feels like a failure, but is it? In our experience, we know that the best innovative solutions exist thanks to the failure of an earlier one.

In technology, you often get promised a ready-to-go solution for your business. But they will rarely solve all your problems, because your company is yours and not anybody else’s. That’s why Amotek builds personal platforms, so you won’t have to sacrifice investments already made.

Be honest

It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s a thing all entrepreneurs have to do from time to time: checking their business’ health. Is your business futureproof? Can it afford some upscaling? How can you digitalize some of your ways of working? Is there nothing that can make this process or that communication easier? And when you have a negative answer to this questions, it’s time to come clear. Be honest, ask for help and make your business happy and healthy again. We’d love to assist you.

The Birdhouse: Meet Filip Smet

The Birdhouse: Meet Filip Smet

Meet Filip Smet
FOUNDER & CEO AMOTEK TECHNOLOGIES


Filip Smet is CEO of AMOTEK technologies, a young company that loves Tech. His years of experience in managing all things digital and his love for innovation and technology ensure that he has a broad base from which he can coach the Birdhouse start-ups. That is also what he looks for in a start-up: successful projects that arise by combining the power of innovation and tech with the skills of the people behind the project.

What Filip is looking for in an entrepreneur? Passion, perseverance and soft skills supplemented with sector-specific knowledge. According to him, these are the key ingredients for successful entrepreneurship.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”