To transform ideas into value creation, start-ups sometimes need a significant boost. For innovative entrepreneurs, participating in such a programme is an opportunity to strengthen their network but also to launch and develop their project. Participation in Fit 4 Start makes it possible to gain visibility with potential customers or even to find investors, a driving factor. It is also a simple way to test the appetite of the market for an idea and consequently to improve one’s services and products.
Since its creation in 2015, Fit 4 Start – a mentoring and support programme for entrepreneurs and creators of innovative start-ups, initiated by the Ministry of the Economy and managed by Luxinnovation – has offered intensive coaching for 16 weeks in Lean Start-Up, attractive pre-seed funding of up to €150,000, access to key networks and a free co-working space in a business incubator. “To enter the market and get off to a strong start, start-ups need quality support, adapted to their stage of development. This is what we offer them thanks to the experience of our international coaches and through the exchanges they can have with the other participants,” explains Laurence Hulin, Manager of the Fit 4 Start programme and Start-up Support Advisor at Luxinnovation. “The strength of our programme lies in the fact that it combines a group approach and coaching that is personalised and adapted to each start-up.”
The objective of coaching is to help entrepreneurs identify their needs and growth potential. “I have been working with start-ups for almost 20 years and I have noticed that very few entrepreneurs really know their clients,” says Michel Blumenthal, Fit 4 Start coach. Through several working sessions, start-ups are, for example, invited to reflect on all elements necessary to put together a businessplan, to assess the viability of their company or to consider the time it will take them to find the necessary partners and funding.
“The programme is very intensive, you meet with the steering committee every 4 weeks. You receive a lot of feedback from Luxinnovation and the coaches, who give you many challenges. It’s very useful and stimulating, as it helps you to rethink what you do and how you do it,” says Tom Michels, CEO of Salonkee, a salon management software developed for the hair and beauty industry in Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
An international influence
In a few years, Fit 4 Start has become a reference programme for supporting start-ups, but its influence extends far beyond Luxembourg’s borders as it attracts more and more project leaders from all over the world every year. Most international participants say they have chosen to settle in Luxembourg because of its central location and growth potential. “I think that the launch potential from Luxembourg is excellent for many start-ups, whatever their field of activity. Everyone knows Berlin, Amsterdam or Paris. These cities are very attractive but Luxembourg is a very open country thanks to easier access to the European or even international market,” explains Cédric Spaas, a participant in the Fit 4 Start programme and Managing Director of Arspectra, a company specialising in innovative medical equipment.
The call for applications for edition 8 of Fit 4 Start is officially launched. To be eligible, the conditions are as follows:
- have an innovation-oriented project;
- have incorporated a company in Luxembourg, preferably less than 12 months before the start of the programme (but the incorporation of the company is not a prerequisite for the application);
- be a team of at least 2 people, at least one of whom will work full time on the project when participating in Fit 4 Start.