Debut in Abu Dhabi

Another milestone achieved: “The most popular Corporate Games event, the Daman Hercules Trophy will now debut in Abu Dhabi at the Zayed Sports City Stadium on 13 February 2016. After a number of successful events in Dubai, the organisers of the event will be launching in Abu Dhabi and this edition promises to be full of exciting, fun and unusual challenges for corporates across Abu Dhabi. The organisers are expecting more than 100 teams to participate at the launch of the Abu Dhabi edition.”

Check out the full press release here

On November 11th 2015, we even organise the first Hercules Projects in the Middle East for 700 employees of one company in Abu Dhabi!

#keepgrowing

Glen De Boeck becomes managing director of Herculean cvba

If you didn’t hear about our major announcement, you must be living on another planet 🙂  On January 13th, an important milestone was  achieved: Glen De Boeck becomes Managing Director of the Herculean coop. We were all over the news and reactions from the business and from the sport world were overwhelmingly positive.

HP_Website_intro_Glen_2

Time to start giving some business background!

4.5 years ago, Inge and me had a crazy dream to take Hercules Trophy global. We quit our corporate jobs and we worked hard, very hard to conquer a lot more than 12 Herculean obstacles. We focused on creating “a solid basis for growth” the first 3 years and then started “expanding the management team” in the next 2 years. Glen is a massive step in that process.

The journey was amazing, we met brilliant people all over the world, we aged at the speed of light, got to know each other extremely well, started building a break-through team, opened offices in Dubai and New York, shared a lot of tears and laughter, learned and innovated constantly, welcomed investors on board of the cooperative holding, started Hercules Academy and Hercules Projects, installed a board of advice etc

For Inge and me it was a very emotional day, as you can imagine. Compare it with that feeling when you bring your child to his first day at school. You know you are doing the right thing and you realise it’s now up to a lot of other people to make your baby grow.

Why this move? 

  • Because we needed a real “team professional” to run the day-to-day business while Inge and me:
    • Focus on growth outside Belgium (Middle East, Europe and USA)
    • Focus on growing the cooperative holding structure with the right corporate governance and the right investors. 
    • Guard the Herculean values, concept and platform and drive innovation
    • Inspire and help the management team to grow the business in our homemarket even further (we’ll probably grow with double digits again this year) 
  • Because Inge and me strongly believe in Glen as a leader and teamplayer with Herculean values. Everything he learned during his professional soccer career as a player, as a captain and as a coach is valuable for Herculean and we believe that Herculean can bring Glen what he’s looking for: an international challenge in a positive atmosphere.

We can’t wait to see our baby grow in the next 5 years! May the force be with Glen and the management team!

For the Belgians amongst us, here are some of the links that mention him:

http://belgs.be/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal-de-morgen/
http://www.demorgen.be/sport/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal-a2179270/
http://www.dhnet.be/dernieres-depeches/belga/glen-de-boeck-quitte-le-monde-du-football-et-se-lance-dans-les-affaires-54b3f667357050c2acd90833
http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/1285/Jupiler-Pro-League/article/detail/2179270/2015/01/12/Glen-De-Boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal.dhtml
http://kvmechelenrss.be/2015/01/12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op/
http://www.lalibre.be/sports/football/glen-de-boeck-du-football-aux-affaires-54b3f89d35709f0c39bf0f52
http://www.lavenir.net/sports/cnt/dmf20150112_00585183
http://www.mijnsportpagina.be/news/show/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-de-voetbalwereld
http://www.nieuws.be/nieuws/Glen_De_Boeck_stapt_uit_de_voetbalwereld_e23992ab.aspx
http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/dmf20150112_01469688
http://www.rscanieuws.be/2015/01/12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op/
http://www.rtbf.be/sport/football/belgique/jupilerproleague/detail_glen-de-boeck-quitte-le-monde-du-football-et-se-lance-dans-les-affaires?id=8761167
http://www.sport.be/nl/jupilerproleague/nieuws/article.html?Article_ID=715996
http://m.standaard.be/cnt/DMF20150112_01469688
http://sporza.be/cm/sporza/voetbal/Jupiler_Pro_League/1.2206808
http://www.voetbalkrant.com/nl/nieuws/lees/2015-01-12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op
http://www.voetbalnieuws.be/news/161499/De_Boeck_komt_met_zeer_verrassende_boodschap
http://www.walfoot.be/fra/news/lis/2015-01-12/glen-de-boeck-nentrainera-plus
http://www.zita.be/nieuws/kranten/3657063_glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal.html

Another hurdle taken. Now what’s next?

Exactly one year ago Herculean cvba, the holding company of all Hercules Trophy companies around the world, bought the remaining shares of Hercules Trophy Belgium.

As Inge and me decided to go fulltime for Hercules Trophy in 2010 and started Herculean cvba, we felt extremely uncomfortable with the vision of the 2 other shareholders (and vice versa). To avoid unnecessary frictions in our home market, we made the bold decision to do a management buy-out. The investors of Herculean cvba supported us 200% in our ideas. Without any bad emotions we completed the transaction in only 2 months time. Rest assure: after 13 years of collaboration, this requires a lot of maturity from all sides and I’m still grateful that everybody kept their coolness. The two former shareholders even visited this year’s edition and saw what we always wanted to implement was a huge improvement for a concept that already was awesome.

Now you know why we were able to design the new Hercules Trophy from scratch. And it worked! We kept the good stuff and added a lot of new features that confirmed our position of coolest sportainment festival on the planet.

Looking back, it’s best decision we’ve ever taken – for the fans and for us – but back in the days we faced many many many many doubts and fears and during the past year many hurdles crossed our path. So if you think that these type of strategy changes are easy, think again. I love the graph below by the way.

530318_545773172135225_1022783450_n[1]

Leaving SO2014

Antwerp, June 7th 2013. Yves Vekemans, President and CEO of Herculean cvba, has decided to end his contract as CMO and member of the executive committee of Special Olympics 2014.

“I learned a lot on this worldwide movement in the past 1.5 years. I worked in many different sectors during my career, but never experienced the very specific culture of non-profit organizations. It’s amazing to meet so many authentic and engaged people who give all their energy on a daily basis. I’m glad I could help build a great team and a vision for Special Olympics 2014. We managed to get a lot of new believers on board. The project is now getting into execution mode and that would require too much of my time to do it right. With the international expansion of Hercules Trophy, that’s impossible to do”, says Vekemans.

Vekemans adds: “I’m convinced that the current team holds all the cards to make a big success of SO2014. Not a simple job in these difficult economical conditions in a country where sport or charity is not part of the culture. It was heartwarming to see that there are still companies and people with a good heart. People who really care about Special Olympics.”

“The board of SO2014 understands and respects the choice of Yves and wants to thank him for his input, ideas and positive energy. The team will take over and focus on the success of the games. The board whishes Yves a lot of success in the future expansion of Hercules Trophy”, says Catalina Daniels CEO van Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Summergames 2014.

“I will always remain a supporter of Special Olympics and the organization can always count on my support. Now it’s time to focus on the growth of Hercules Trophy in the Middle East, USA, Africa, Europe and Australia. Implementing such a massive growth in 3 years time was a true Herculean effort!”

Entrepreneurs and teachers

WP_20130430_001[1]I love teaching! This week I coached a bunch of highly motivated and smart Sport MBA students of the Real Madrid University about “Entrepreneurship the Herculean way”. Over 20 different nationalities in the room!

Was a bit nervous they wouldn’t be interested in my story as it was their final class and a few hours later Real Madrid would play against Dortmund in the semi-finals of the Champions League. All turned out well except for Real Madrid. Good to know the Indians, Canadians and Americans expressed a lot of interest in Hercules Trophy.

Told them our story, talked for 2 hours about the Herculean mantra and did a business case with them. They were split up in teams, all representing a country, they all had to challenged me with serious questions on why Hercules Trophy would be so great for their country (as they had other events they could pick). Once convinced of the power of Hercules, they then had to convince me why I would pick them (as we have to make choices too, you know). They learned a lot, I learned a lot.

What struck me the most: the social responsibility and entrepreneurial mindset of a lot of students. They loved the fact that we use sport as a means to increase CSR within corporates. They loved the fact we help Special Olympics, Randall’s Island, Kid Care, Nelson Mandela Day, Senses… They loved the fact that we are not in it for the money, but for the dream.

WP_20130430_002[1]Seems like teaching/coaching is in my blood. Can’t help it. It’s a useful skill to coach a team, but I want to coach other people too. It feels like I have to. Mum and dad were teachers. My father’s dad combined teaching with entrepreneurship. My mother’s parents were true entrepreneurs and they did what Inge and me are doing right now: work together day and night and build something from scratch. He died very young, she made it to 94 and was probably the smartest godmother in the world. Let’s hope we both make it to 94.

Reminder to self: we’ve been testing the idea of the Hercules Academy for some time now as fans kept on asking to support them before and after the Hercules Trophy. We tested with business coaches, functional coaches, public speakers, Olympians,… and I’m convinced it’s the way to go. We want to extend our platform and connect our fans with Herculean coaches to inspire them to improve their wellbeing throughout the year. Here you go, I’ve said it. Isn’t that a cool idea? We just partnered with Gella Vandecaveye and Eddy Vinckier in Belgium. Guess why?

Other reminder to self: about time we publish our eBook on the Herculean lifestyle. Mmmm, maybe we should incorporate the feedback of the fans while writing it. Let us think about it.

Jugaad

As we are growing rapidly, I was looking for a way to explain to newbies how we innovate at Hercules Trophy. As we offer high value at low cost to our customers, we need to be very creative with budgets all the time. We always lack funds to do everything we want – but we still manage to do what we want – so we need to be creative and innovative with limited budgets.

The article on Six Sigma and innovation in Bloomberg Businessweek was very interesting, but only proves to me that Six Sigma and innovation are very hard to combine. I prefer to have less Six Sigma and more innovation.

I bumped into a very interesting blogpost on  Jugaad and I must say it describes strikingly well how innovation is done in our company.

Jugaad literally means an improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of a lack of resources. As I’m a firm believer that creativity and innovation come from a lack of resources – and we are always confronted with a lack of resources at Hercules Trophy – I was intrigued by the concept and I’m definitely going to read the book.

  • Seek opportunity in adversity
    Jugaad entrepreneurs perceive harsh constraints as an invitation to innovate. Kanak Das, who lives in a remote village in North East India got tired of riding his bicycle on roads full of pot holes and bumps. Rather than complaining, he turned it to his advantage by retrofitting his bicycle with device that will converts the shocks it receives into acceleration energy, allowing him to ride his bicycle faster on bumpy roads.
  • Do More with Less
    Jugaad innovators are highly resourceful in the face of scarcity. The practitioners of jugaad, work with what they have got. This frugal principle can teach us to optimize the use of scarce financial and natural resources while delivering high value.
  • Think and Act Flexibly
    Jugaad innovators’ flexible mindset constantly questions the status quo, keeps all options open, and transforms existing products, services, and business models.
  • Keep it Simple
    Jugaad is not about seeking sophistication or perfection by over engineering products, but rather about developing a ‘good enough’ solution that gets the job done.
  • Include the Margin
    While everyone typically serves the mainstream, jugaad entrepreneurs intentionally seek out the marginal, underserved customers and pull them into main stream.
  • Follow Your Heart
    Jugaad innovators do not rely on focus groups or formal market research to decide what products to make-nor do they worry how the investors will react to their new product strategies. They know their customers and their products intimately and ultimately, they trust and follow their hearts.

I follow these principles every day, without knowing Jugaad existed! I agree that Western corporations can no longer just rely on the old formula that sustained innovation and growth for decades: a mix of top-down strategies, expensive R&D projects and rigid, highly structured innovation processes. Jugaad Innovation argues that the West must look to places like India, China, and Africa for a new, bottom-up approach to frugal and flexible innovation.

What are the Hercules Trophy labours 2013?

We are in the middle of selecting new labors for Middle East, Europe and USA 2013. It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it. The mix of the right labors for a Hercules Trophy is one of these things that makes the Hercules Trophy so attractive. We have to make sure it’s safe, everybody can participate and most of all: it has to be fun and competitive in less than 15 minutes.

We organised well over 70 different labours already. It’s not always the most expensive ones that get the highest customer satisfaction by the way.

We know our fans scan the internet to be the first to find out. No guys, you’ll have to wait for the announcements. But you can definitely find clues in the next video.

And if you don’t believe that, I’ll make up something else. Smile

Have a Herculean Day!