First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bram Balcaen: Luckily, we are all healthy, my kids are able to go back to school in-person, and my wife and myself can still do our job. Our health takes precedence over today. We will see how this Covid situation is evolving, but as an entrepreneur, we always adapt ourselves to make a crisis successful.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded equicty.
Bram Balcaen: I am graduated as an electronic engineer and worked 15 years as a software developer in different verticals to learn the job. I met my co-founder Samir at the university, and we worked several years together, where we learned to work together in good and bad times.
Together with my wife, we run our own stable with horses at home. Keeping horses is a tough job, so you better run it efficiently. Both passions for horses and IT merged, and equicty was born.
I started developing a beta version, and in 2013 equicty had the first early adaptor customers.
I met Samir, with a big passion for showjumping horses, almost 20 years ago. We share the same vision of enabling the equestrian business with digital management solutions to operate their entire organization. In November, equicty officially expanded the co-founder team with Samir & Kristof, making equicty a private limited company.
Together with imec.istart as an accelerator for tech startups and our business angels, we were able to launch our first commercial product, build up a team, and scale our operations. Today we have customers in 30 countries with the stars of the horse world in our ambassador portfolio.
How does equicty innovate?
Bram Balcaen: We are committed to bringing easy-to-use tools to the horse industry in order to continuously improve their business, health & performance of their horses.
We manage all the horse data and connect every involved stakeholder. This results in a simplified administration where our customers save time, have an engaged team, and a central place for all the information. Stables need to survive. They can do this if they can attract and keep clients, satisfy them, and build trust and loyalty. Although many SMEs are using CRM software solutions, our tool manages both horses and clients together.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bram Balcaen: We are no exception from the crisis, so just like any other company, we needed to adapt to the new situation. We started working remotely, but with our motivated team, we are doing well. Our products are web-based, and with a global client base, the impact is less than expected. The Covid situation introduced the importunacy of digitalization to everybody. The equine industry also needed to adapt its way of work to protect their business and workers. This year lots of events and competitions were postponed and canceled. This leads to a lot of changes in management. Customers felt the need for an easy and structured digital management tool. Our online riding club platform helped our customers to have traceability of persons entered the club as this was mandatory by governments.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bram Balcaen: Like any other company, we have our bumpy road and learned from our mistakes. It is important to try to turn a crisis like Covid into an opportunity.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Bram Balcaen: It is important for me to go running and biking in nature to clear my mind so I can stay focused on the job. Meditation helps to canalize the fears and a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bram Balcaen: We have strong competitors coming into the market, and we respect them. We want to stay in the game by listening to the need of our customers. We have close contact with our ambassadors. Their input is crucial in the development of our products. It is important for us to know our customers’ needs and the struggles they have. We want to deliver easy to use tools with great customer service so our clients can focus on what really matters, their horses.
Your final thoughts?
Bram Balcaen: Building the future for equicty is mainly based on a passion for horses and technology, and that passion still pushes me forward.
As a techpreneur, it gives me goosebumps to have a technology idea and make it a commercial reality.
Grab your steer and ride your bumpy road!