It Takes a Community to Build a Business

Brussels scale-up TIAO launches CONNECTS V2, the new version of its global B2B platform

There is an African proverb that says it takes a whole village to raise a child. Likewise, it takes a community to build a successful business. This is the motto of Brussels scale-up TIAO SA/NV that will be launching the 2nd version of its global B2B platform CONNECTS in January 2021.

In the COVID-19 world, digital transformation has become more vital than ever for companies, and especially SMEs, to survive and thrive. CONNECTS enables businesses and entrepreneurs to discover new opportunities, connect and collaborate with other businesses through their local chambers of commerce and other trusted business networks throughout the world.

In the words of Olivier Willocx, CEO of Beci, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ‘The post-COVID-19 economy will be largely digital. To continue to support their local business communities, chambers of commerce need to adapt. CONNECTS is a very useful platform that allows Beci to support its members in a world of business that will be increasingly done online.’

As Pierre Hermant, CEO of finance&, said, ‘there is a strong correlation between SMEs that are active internationally and SMEs that grow and innovate. Our investment in CONNECTS is also an investment in the Brussels economy at large, making Brussels companies more pandemic-resilient and helping them internationalise. We believe CONNECTS has the potential to set the standard for B2B (international) business development in  the post-pandemic world.’[1] 

During the last 12 months, TIAO has raised a total of 1.1M Euros to invest in the development and roll-out of CONNECTS V2. It will have a new design and user interface as well as a series of new community management features. It will also use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help users obtain better search results and predict ‘matches’.

The AI has been developed in partnership with SIRRIS, the research and innovation organisation of the Belgian technology sector. This was made possible by a €270.000 grant from Innoviris, the Brussels regional institute for research and innovation. The Brussels Regional Investment Company, finance&, also invested €500.000 towards the development of CONNECTS V2.

Joost Visser, CEO of TIAO, stated “We are very grateful to our Brussels partners and other investors for their support in the development of CONNECTS. It is a perfect example of our motto ‘It takes a Community to build a business! ”’

These are quotes from Beglian business professionals and are to be used as a guideline. Of course, please feel free to replace these with quotes from business people within your own networks.