Behind The Scenes
A day in the life of a founder at Miles Ahead
Bram Van de velde (30) is an ambitious young man. With his startup Leadcamp, he wants to make sales more human-to-human. By the end of 2025, he would like to help a million salespeople, making them more effective and successful. And improving their work-life balance. Leadcamp is already the third company that Bram founded, but the first where he works together with Miles Ahead.
Leadcamp started from the fact that sellers spend only 18% of their time selling. The other 82% is wasted trying to figure out what prospects are interested in, updating their CRM or analysing data. By capturing all prospect interactions, Leadcamp uses ‛intent signals’ to fuel the sales engine. According to customer quotes on the Leadcamp website, the solution can be set up in 20 minutes and is intuitive to use.
What would your solution look like if it weren’t that simple to use?
Bram: It wouldn’t have a reason to exist. Some of our competitors focus on big enterprises and large sales teams. Implementing their products comes at a high cost. Our vision was to offer small and medium-size companies a sales platform that makes it easy for sellers to sell. We automate outreach sequences that can adapt themselves based on intent, automate low-value sales activities and provide AI-guided selling. In companies that sell complex B2B products, roughly 50% of sales reps are underperforming. We turn them into top performers.
Leadcamp works data-driven, but your LinkedIn profile says you help sellers sell human to human. Isn’t that a contradiction?
Bram: Many salespeople try to analyse data themselves to find out what the prospect is doing. They don’t have time to go in depth for each customer, so the messages they send fall flat. We take that analysis out of their hands and provide them with the right information to craft personalized messages. That makes the process human to human rather than business-to-business. In fact, I don’t believe in the distinction between B2B and B2C, it’s all human-to-human to me.
Going into warrior mode
Leadcamp has a nearly finished product that you are currently bringing to market. That makes you the odd man out in the Miles Ahead setup, doesn’t it?
Bram: Leadcamp is a good case for Miles Ahead when it comes to the later stages of a startup. The initial product is here, but we still need to market it. Miles Ahead brings us a wealth of experience when it comes to positioning the company and taking our marketing to the next level. I am currently implementing a lot of the recommendations that were given during the Miles Ahead session on inbound marketing.
You clearly have a strong vision. How easy is it for you to take advice – or criticism – from the experts at Miles Ahead?
Bram: They can cope remarkably well with me. (laughs) No, seriously. I like it when they challenge me and I don’t mind them pushing me. I like it when people set me on edge. I go into ‘warrior mode’ then and try to prove myself and make a difference.
If you got the freedom to put a giant billboard in the centre of Ghent, what slogan would you put up there?
Bram: “Give it your all, never back down.” That’s the translation of what we say in Ghent: “nie neute, nie pleuje”. If you have a goal, keep going for it, even if the going is tough. I remember a time the company had barely 500 euros left in the bank. Many would have given up then, and some people chose to leave the company. But I kept going, and we came through.
Becoming a leading European platform
Leadcamp is your third company already. What’s the link between FoundME, Cardify and Leadcamp?
Bram: FoundME was something completely different. It was a platform I set up for student entrepreneurs, offered to schools and cities. It was a good learning experience for me, helping me accelerate the development of Cardify. Just like Leadcamp, Cardify focuses on sellers, making them more efficient. It’s a tappable business card with a mobile app that helps them capture prospects at a trade show and see who is worth following up with. Cardify still exists, but it’s in self-service mode for potential customers.
What’s your ambition, for Leadcamp and for yourself?
Bram: Leadcamp has the potential to become a leading player with software for the European SMB market. By 2025 we aim to help one million salespeople be more efficient and effective. That will give us unicorn status and make us a leading platform in Europe. If that succeeds, I will also reach my personal ambition of being financially independent. I will always work hard, but it will give me peace of mind not having to worry about the future of my future children. The years between you’re 18 and 35 are your prime time. That’s when you dream and make your dreams come true.
You are currently actively recruiting. Why should people join Leadcamp?
Bram: Well, we're all friends, gifted minds and passionate problem-solvers here, who love to innovate the world and to shape the future of sales - together. People who share that passion can get an awesome opportunity to learn and develop both professionally and personally at Leadcamp.
Keeping up with the Kardashians
Do you have a role model as an entrepreneur?
Bram: There are several people that inspire me. I put together a fictitious personal council of advisors. When I have a challenge, I turn to Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. I ask myself how they would have tackled that problem. But I also seek inspiration outside of science and technology. I like Kris Jenner of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’. Few people realize that she’s the brains behind the brand. She’s some kind of role model when it comes to personal branding and marketing your stuff.
Speaking of personal branding, you have your own podcast, ‛Sound of Sales’.
Bram: The podcast is good for my personal brand, that’s true. Hosting the podcast helps build credibility. If you don’t have a personal brand, it’s more difficult to succeed. But it’s also a good lead generator for Leadcamp. I invite guests to the podcast because they have a story to tell. But some are also prospects for Leadcamp. The podcast helps to get the conversation going.
If you only had two hours a week to work on Leadcamp, what would you focus on?
Bram: That’s a difficult question. I currently work 60 hours a week. But if I had to cut 58 hours, I would spend the remaining two talking to customers and prospects. Having these conversations helps improve the product.
You applied for a patent. How important is that to you?
Bram: We filed an initial application for a patent with Cardify, but we discontinued it. Our functionality of getting data back from a prospect was completely new for the market, so we wanted to protect that technology. By filing for the patent, we protected that technology so no one could claim the idea and block our development. Filing the application was just as effective as a patent itself, but cost us a whole lot less.
What emerging technologies are important to Leadcamp?
Bram: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. They predict the behaviour of a prospect, so that we can present them with the right content or next steps. I’m also a strong believer in the metaverse and augmented reality (AR) when it comes to customer contacts. Just imagine you could capture customer engagement in the metaverse?
You are always full of ideas. Where do you get your drive as an entrepreneur?
Bram: My grandfather was an entrepreneur. Also, I found out early on in my career that I don’t function well working for a boss. I want to have an impact, on my own. That is best achieved through your own company. When I was 16, I started organizing a music festival with my friends, and I managed my own music band. I like organizing and coordinating things.
What is it with music, founders and Miles Ahead? Everyone I interview at Miles Ahead is a musician.
Bram: Music is about creativity, and so is being an entrepreneur. It’s not surprising that so many entrepreneurs are also musicians. At the same time, music is mathematics. So, music really fits tech entrepreneurs.
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Enkele grote namen uit de Vlaamse techwereld richten de ‘venture studio’ Miles Ahead op. Die houdt het midden tussen een techfonds en een -incubator en biedt jonge AI-bedrijven in totaal 35 miljoen euro kapitaal en hulp van experts.