Five years ago I founded Lemon, an all-round software development company. In the midst of the pandemic I founded Road21, an ecosystem of 30 technology companies, with my co-founder Fabian Van Kerckhove. Lemon is now part of the ecosystem and I’ve learned to go from quantitative growth to qualitative growth. What makes me happy? What drives me? The changes of the past year have made me the entrepreneur I am today.
TIME IS THE ONLY THING YOU CAN’T BUY
I’ve always been very thoughtful about the time I invest in my companies. From the beginning of my career, I have made the choice to work on the company rather than in the company. When 100% of your time goes to operational matters and making yourself billable, you hold the innovation and growth of your own company back.
MAKE YOURSELF REPLACEABLE
As CEO of Road21 I chose to resign as CEO from Lemon. I’m still able to make an impact as a member of the board of directors, but I left the daily management to someone else. When assigning someone else as CEO, you have to make sure their values align with those of the company. They also have to possess the skill set to guide the company and the team to the next level. In a relationship, you better date long before getting married. This is no different. You have to know the person long enough, been through good and more importantly bad times before making the decision to choose that person as the new captain of the ship. This road prepares you to make yourself replaceable in your own company.
THE ROAD TO INNOVATION
By surrounding ourselves with the right people, we were able to start 12 new companies in just 6 months time, all based in Kontich (Antwerp). I’m not saying that every company in Road21 is a one of a kind, never seen before start-up. But by combining our forces and working together, we were able to offer an all-round solution for every company that has asked for help. And most importantly, we have created a team of very talented people who have all become intrapreneurs. When glancing at the managers of every company, I know I’m not the smartest person in the room.