A new must-have for students wanting to get a project up and running, this incubator provides tailor-made coaching. The results so far have been highly encouraging.
StudentLab, which is part of Charleroi Entreprendre, is overseeing more and more entrepreneurial projects being launched by students and recent graduates. This year alone has seen over 80 of them. The incubator offers a range of different services, including guidance on individual projects, cutting edge expertise, financing possibilities and even a bustling coworking space. We asked some of the students what had stood out for them during their coaching.
Very practical assistance
Arnaud Verbruggen, 18 years old, launched BlackCom, a digital communications agency which offers its clients specialised services in order to promote their activities. “For me, StudentLab very quickly brought me face to face with the market so that I could test out the project I was working on,”, he explains. “It was this very practical experience that helped me develop my final project.”
He also had lengthy discussions with his coach. “In addition to helping me overcome difficulties with the project, Jean-François, my coach, also supported me with some difficulties that can often occur when embarking upon entrepreneurial adventures, especially when it came to the relationship with my parents.”
A helping hand in more ways than one
Margaux Brancart and Maëlle Coenen launched BCMᒾ, a company which aims to assess the potential of real estate properties using 2D and 3D plans or virtual reality images. The entrepreneurial duo’s idea was to use the system to boost the property market. They appreciated the financial as well as human and logistical support they received whilst turning their project into reality.
“We won’t pretend that the financial boost wasn’t immensely helpful, as you might have guessed; setting yourself up as self-employed does incur certain costs,” they tell us. “The most important thing for us was the weekly support of coaches and mentors. They helped us to take our idea, make it a reality and set up our company. We wouldn’t have made it without this vital source of support.”
A genuine network
For Augustin, Alexis and Martin, the team at Carolographie, a not-for-profit association which showcases the region of Charleroi through a series of beautiful images and a vibrant social media community, StudentLab plays a major role in bringing inspiring people together.
“The StudentLab ecosystem is a hotbed of networking where you can hear about so many projects, the people behind them, different locations, all within this positive atmosphere we have worked so hard to create,” says Augustin, speaking on behalf of the team.
In addition, the entrepreneurs have discovered a friendly and constructive setting through their relationships with the coaches, experts, mentoring teams, coworking staff and other people with projects. “We feel very relaxed, and that makes it easy to find answers to our questions and the solutions we need to overcome certain hurdles.”
Finally, Diana Avagian, who runs Les Essentiels de Diana, a boutique with an e-commerce site which sells natural and local cosmetics, the majority of them sold in bulk, sees the incubator as offering real support at all levels.
She appreciates all the advice she has received: “It is easier to make decisions when you get the go ahead from people with experience.”
For her, StudentLab has helped to open many doors in the entrepreneurial world.
StudentLab is open to anyone with an idea for a project, all year round. It welcomes students or anyone who has completed their studies within the last 12 months.