Ramon Suarez

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Ramon Suarez is one of the four organisers of Startup Weekend Brussels, a new event which aims to help prospective entrepreneurs launch a business in just 54 hours

There are so many people out there who have great ideas but think that it will be difficult to launch a business. Startup Weekends show people just how simple it can be to turn an idea into a reality. There have been Startup Weekend events all over the world ??? in San Francisco, Milan, in Tel-Aviv ??? but this is the first one in Belgium and I am proud to be one of the organisers.

It will start on Friday evening with the participants pitching their ideas. Everybody then votes on the best ten ideas and the participants will split into teams to work on them until Sunday.

Mentors from all sectors like technology, law and HR will be on hand to give advice and on Sunday evening the teams have to present a prototype and a valid business concept to a team of 38 investors. All members of the winning team will win a place on the Founder Institute???s spring programme and we are working on other prizes, too. But it is not just about the winning. It is about connecting like-minded people, building a sense of community and ultimately creating new startups.

Everyone ??? professionals, entrepreneurs, students ??? is welcome to register but we are only taking 80 people so you???d better be prepared to work! The Sunday evening presentation will be open to observers but if you register to take part there is no point sitting there and feeling shy ??? you have to go through the process. What is it that makes a good business? It???s the people, it???s the timing. Of course, it???s the idea too, but it is usually the people behind an idea that make it good. You can also have a good idea at the wrong moment. There are so many factors involved.

I have had quite an eclectic career. I was a journalist in Spain and then I came to Brussels seven years ago to work in public affairs but I decided I wanted to do something different. Something more dynamic and enterprising. So I completed an MBA at Solvay and now I am a freelance new media business and marketing consultant, which I love. I also describe myself as a ???chocolate diplomat??? because I use chocolate to meet people. I always carry a couple of bars of Galler with me and give them to people that I meet. It helps to break the ice. But I am quite fussy about what I eat so I only carry dark chocolate.

I also recently co-launched a new project called the BetaGroup Coworking Space and it is going really well. There is already a coworking space in Brussels called The Hub but we are different in that we tend to focus more on technology, internet and mobile entrepreneurs/freelancers whereas The Hub???s focus is more on socially responsible enterprises or businesses with a strong environmental angle. We have about 60 people registered so far and we are already planning to extend the working space. So I would recommend that if any people out there still have the impression that Belgium is not the ideal place for entrepreneurship because of the bureaucracy or whatever they need to come and visit us.

The world is changing. The financial crisis really affected many traditional sectors and people have been forced to think outside the box. Technology means that many people can do their work from anywhere ??? they can be digital nomads. But sometimes those people need to be able to bounce their ideas off others and that???s where coworking spaces are useful. We also put on events ??? this week is the first European Jelly Week, which is a celebration of informal collaborations, so the BetaGroup Coworking Space will be holding an open house for that too. We just want to bring good people together to make good ideas happen.

Startup Weekend Brussels takes place from January 28 to 30 at the new ICAB business centre at 4 Rue des P??res Blancs, Brussels (Etterbeek). Places are strictly limited to 80, on a first-come, first-served basis. To register or for more information, visit brussels.startupweekend.org. You can also visit www.ramonsuarez.com.

Interview by Tamara Gausi

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