This is Louis Jonckheere's favorite advice to entrepreneurs
The world can sometimes seem like an overwhelming place if you’re an entrepreneur: uncertain and volatile but also full possibilities and choices. However, in today's interconnected world, there's a hidden force that can propel us towards our goals: the power of asking and persisting, combined with the strength of building strong relationships.
A simple yet powerful action, asking for help or advice opens doors and forges connections with others who share our passion for entrepreneurship. To show how influential such a mindset can be, I wanted to share some inspiring stories that demonstrate the incredible potential of daring to ask, persisting, and leveraging our networks to help each other succeed.
If there is one thing I learned as an entrepreneur, it is that persistence is key. Hendrik Isebaert, for example, sent several cold emails seeking an internship at Showpad. Initially rejected, he didn't give up and eventually landed the position. Today, Hendrik is the CEO of Showpad.
And eight years ago, an unknown young graduate called Michiel Denis reached out to me on Twitter for an internship in San Francisco. I was charmed with this creative cold outreach and proposed a call. We immediately clicked and, 2 months later, he jumped on a plane to start his internship. The latter led to a full time job that enabled him to work across the globe (he lived in San Francisco and Chicago) and to evolve and grow until he eventually became my Chief of Staff. He stayed at Showpad for over 7 years and is now part of the leadership team at Henchman. His life would probably have been totally different if he hadn’t dared to reach out to me and to ask about that internship.
When Showpad first launched in the US, it was difficult to gain traction among thousands of other startups. Undeterred, we reached out to Jason M. Lemkin, who had just founded Saastr, on Quora. With a convincing pitch, we secured a meeting that led to Jason becoming a shareholder and advisor. This pivotal connection completely transformed Showpad's prospects in the US market. We were able to better attract talent, accelerate customer acquisition and build out our brand. Today over 50% of our revenue comes from the US.
Similarly, Founder Joris Van Der Gucht persisted in emailing me to secure an angel investment for Silverfin. Despite initial unresponsiveness - I have to admit that accounting software did not really appeal to me in the beginning - Joris's tenacity paid off, and my partner PJ and I ultimately invested in Silverfin and provided them with our advice. I haven’t regretted that decision for one day.
Lastly, PJ and I really wanted to have the London-based AKQA Group as a customer for In The Pocket as they worked for some of the world’s leading brands. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to connect, we took a bold step and just traveled to London, walking into their office unannounced, saying that we had a meeting with Sebastian, their head of mobile at the time. Not only did they let us in, but we were given one minute to pitch our idea and because of that, we secured a meeting with their whole team to discuss working together a few weeks later.
The lesson from these stories is clear: dare to ask. There is a vast network of individuals willing to help and give back, but it's up to us to tap into that resource. As entrepreneurs, we must embrace the power of asking, persist in our efforts, and nurture the relationships that can propel us towards success. So go ahead and ask - you never know what opportunities await.