Founder and CEO of Lemon Companies
I’m Filip, I’m 26 years old, I live in Belgium and I’m currently running the holding Lemon Companies (http://www.lemoncompanies.com/), an all-around development agency. Next to that I’m also running Interhost Solutions, a webhosting company. Back when we were still studying we thought “hey, studying alone isn’t exciting enough, let’s actually do something more hands-on.” That’s how our first company ‘Interhost Solutions’ (https://www.interhostsolutions.be/) came to exist. Back then the only thing we did was providing hosting & hardware solutions (servers etc.).
After finishing my master’s degree in Business Engineering I started working at IBM. At some point our small business on the side had about 3500 hosting clients. So in August 2014 we decided to start full-time with Interhost Solutions. Afterwards, we evolved into a holding structure named Lemon Companies and we’ve been expanding our family with talented people of many traits ever since. Right now we come up with all around digital solutions for businesses like McKinsey, Imprima & Toyota, but we also create our own products.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ONGOING VENTURES
We have a lot going on right now. One of our latest ventures is all about breasts (fun fun fun!), it’s called ‘Appje voor de Borst’, this roughly translates to ‘App for the breast’. This project runs in collaboration with “Kind en Gezin”, a big Belgian NGO that supports parents-to-be and parents with young children. Today, way too little mothers breastfeed their babies. As breastfeeding is very healthy for a newborn, more mothers should be sensitized. That’s what this joint venture is all about. The app allows midwifes to check how much breastfeeding certain babies receive. In this way, they can advise the parents to increase or decrease the amount of breastfeeding their baby gets.
The next joint venture is also about children, mainly about cutting down the expenses of children. Cazou (www.cazou.nl) is an online platform, which allows parents to sell the clothing their children have grown out of. This all happens cost-free. Especially small children grow like bamboo, so buying new sets of clothes every 6 months can quickly become expensive & frustrating. At this moment even grown-ups can sell their clothing on the platform.
Still end up broke? Then you can always find a flexible job within the hospitality industry on Forganiser (www.forganiser.be). Forganiser was one of our first joint ventures. It’s an HR tool that makes it easier for employers, mainly within the catering business, to find temporary workers. Right now we have more than 4000 workers in our database and more than 180 000 work hours booked through the system.
HOW DO YOU SEE THOSE VENTURES DEVELOPING? WHAT IS YOUR GROWTH STRATEGY?
Growth with Interhost Solutions is quite difficult because the hosting market is declining, certainly with services like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud attacking the market. So that’s also the reason why we started with the holding Lemon Companies, to offer a full package of digital solutions including hosting & hardware, but also going beyond that. On top of all we currently have one new venture in the pipeline with someone I recently introduced to EYES, Fabian Van Kerckhove.
IF YOU HAD BEEN TOLD THAT YOU WOULD ACCOMPLISH ALL THIS DURING YOUR TEEN YEARS, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID?
“Wooow dude, that’s like really awesome!” Okay no, my goal was to launch a meaningful and enduring company, so I would have probably been satisfied. But that would’ve been a horrible plan because life is boring when you know the outcome. It’s like watching the Sixth Sense while knowing that Bruce Willis is actually dead.
WHAT ROLE DOES BRAINSTORMING WITH OTHERS PLAY IN YOUR LIFE? COULD YOU HAVE DONE WHAT YOU HAVE IF YOU DID IT ALONE?
In our growing Lemon & Interhost family we have the privilege of working together with a lot of different individuals with diverse backgrounds and different expertise. All these different people interacting is what makes that Lemon is growing faster than it ever did before. Every team member sees other problems and solutions.
WHAT DOES EYES MEAN TO YOU?
EYES gives us the ability to measure ourselves to others, to get a realistic perspective on how other young entrepreneurs are handling business, to challenge ourselves by looking at others. If you don’t surround yourself with people who are as powerful or more powerful than you are, you won’t become as competitive.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS WHO MAY HAVE ENCOUNTERED SETBACKS IN THEIR VENTURES?
Just give up already, less competition for us! Hah, actually, no, keep on going, if we would have never had a setback, we wouldn’t be as quickly growing as we are today. You also tipped over a few times when you were learning how to ride your bicycle, but what you didn’t do back then was say “okay, I’m done!”. Falling is necessary because then you get the opportunity to get up.
IN THE MIDST OF ALL YOUR WORK, WHAT CALMS YOU DOWN AND GIVES YOU PEACE OF MIND?
It’s cliché but my girlfriend, Chloé Cuypers. She’s the person who tells me that everything will be all right when I’m stressed out of my mind.