Keep innovating

TechTrip Vancouver and Seattle

For the 5th time, Philippe Vlaemminck, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at MultiMinds, joined the Voka TechTrip, this time heading to Vancouver and Seattle along with 42 other entrepreneurs.

Simplicity in experience

The receipt excels in simplicity: you pay the bill and you open your eyes and mind. In return, you get energised through all your senses. A full packed, carefully curated program enabled us to visit companies where you would have a hard time even to get in, or you wouldn’t even suspect the existence of... (Protein design ¿Que?). Mission: keep your eyes open and learn.

TechTrip Voka 2024 - Man bike

David versus Goliath

The impressions are countless and it would do injustice towards a lot of others to sort them, so I just pick the first 2 that pop up on my mind: MistyWest and Microsoft. It’s a David and Goliath scenario - MistyWest, a small 30fte engineering company, versus Microsoft, a corporation with a local headcount of 50.000. 

The first one is the definition of a playground for electrical engineering: geeky engineers in a messy lab - I’m pretty sure they did an attempt to clean up before our arrival though - full of microprocessors, breadboard, sensors,… but very strong in their capabilities. Their first big investment was an exquisite espressomachine ;-) (That was at MultiMinds the first buy as well and our second was a pool table.) 

What I recall from our host: His dream was to identify invasive plants through computer vision to protect local species. Seen the stuff they were doing now, that’s a matter of time before he’s there. The combination of enthusiasm, skills and purpose is what makes a company a great place to work and a pleasure to visit.

TechTrip Voka 2024 - Man hand

Pivotal transformations

Now, about Microsoft. Despite the risk of being expelled from the community of former Sun Microsystems employees, I must admit, I’m a fan of Microsoft. Voila, the word is out. Allow me to clarify that: I don't like their operating system; I have too much love for Unix/Linux flavours for that, but I do like their cloud stuff and maybe Copilot too (we are dating as we speak), but above all, I love the pivot that company made... about 15 years ago, that company had become irrelevant in my humble opinion. 

Once Bill Gates achieved his purpose—"A PC in every home"—the company had no further goal and then you're just loitering. However, under Satya Nadella’s leadership, there’s been a significant culture shift from a competitive to a more collaborative and innovative mindset with ‘empathy’ as a key to understanding customers' needs and driving technological innovation, particularly in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence. 

This transformation, told to us by Irada Sadykhova, with such a passion, left a lasting impact on the group, demonstrating that even in the darkest moments (an era late 1990 market by internal conflicts), there is always a way to turn around and resetting a company.

Cultural contrasts

This brings me to the key difference between the Belgian (European?) and the American entrepreneurial climates: Over there, mistakes are embraced, boldness is encouraged. The Belgian entrepreneurial climate necessitates caution, there are no second chances given. Being bold in Belgium needs a lot more courage. And that is exactly the feeling I’m returning home with: I feel emboldened and courageous, ready to tackle challenges with renewed vigor. Harder, better, faster, stronger.

Thank you, Voka. See you next year !

TechTrip Voka 2024 - night