The Belgian American Chamber of Commerce in the United States, or Belcham, organizes sessions for companies trying to make their way into the United States. These sessions are called “Belcham Dealteams”. They are open for all members of BelCham.
The Belgian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA (See why we call it BelCham?) is – despite Belgiums size – amongst he larger European Chamber here in New York. It’s definitely one of the most dynamic one. As it’s not subsidized by any of the Belgian governments, it’s funded by its members and activities. They support the idea of an american dream for Belgian (and other European) entrepreneurs, organizations, students,… and have developed a range of services to support them when getting in front of the American opportunities.
One of these services is built around consulting services, where market experience is shared with new entrants on the US markets. These Belcham Dealteams bring anywhere between 5 and 15 experienced managers, entrepreneurs and business owners to the table. Americans, Belgians and other bring to the table the experience of starting and running businesses or business lines in the USA.
During an interactive session the entering entrepreneur and its team present their US-strategy. The pannel of seasoned professionals listen to the plans, and give feedback on the strategic questions. The focus is on the difference in the business plan to be successful in the USA. The people in the sessions react interactive, open and direct to the entrepreneur and the whole table seeks potential alternatives for the identified roadblocks.
Topics over the past year have included go-to-market strategies, hiring questions, HR-strategy puzzles, product compatibility, and so on. The experts on the panel donate their time to the Belcham Dealteam, and the member-entrepreneur doesn’t have to pay for this session. There’s however no formal follow-up. Sometimes, relationships spin off from this table, and the entrepreneur always leaves the table with a clear idea of what are possible next steps are. I’ve been in charge of organizing these dealteams over the past years, and I’m happy to see the result of some of our sessions in the day-to-day success of these businesses. Sure, they could have done it without us, but we might have made it easier or helped avoiding some pitfalls.
By their nature, there is a commercial confidence taken into account around these dealteams. Last week however, we received feedback related to a Belcham Dealteam that we can share. A delegation of Evapp came to a Belcham Dealteam to finetune their business plan. Not for an immediate start in the USA, but because they were selected to defend their business model in a Pitching Competition in Virginia.
Evapp is built around the idea that, when someone suffers from a heart failure, there’s a good chance there’s some person trained in advanced first aid closer to the victim than it will take the ambulance to get there. Evapp believes they can activate a network of volunteers to shorten the time between a heart-attack and the start of the treatment. The wide implementation of Evapp in Europe could save as many as 100,000 lives per year in Europe…
Evapp is run by students at the University of Ghent. During a business-competition, they came out first and were selected to defend their model in the prestigious competition at Virginia Tech: the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge. We at Belcham were happy to organise a dealteam to tune the business plan to the US audience. Hours of preparation, an extremely interactive evening with entrepreneurs and marketing experts in New York helped Eva and Robin of Evapp with their approach. The American way of looking at their numbers, the whole group trying to understand what accents to use in an international competition, and some follow up with the team in Ghent and some entrepreneurs prepared them for the pitching competition.
We’re extremely proud at Belcham that this dealteam has been part of the way for the team at Evapp. When we heard this week that they made second place, all involved here in New York knew they could look back on another evening of supporting bright entrepreneurs. We know you’ll hear from them soon!