David Hachez on start-up rising star Jean-Philippe Lens

As part of the Innovation special in our February-March (2016) edition of the magazine, David Hachez (1975) entrepreneur and marketer, co-founder of GetSmily, a facial analysis software nominates Jean-Philippe Lens (1978) as the budding entrepreneur to keep an eye on. Jean Phillippe is a bioengineer graduate and co-founder of Topino, a farmer-to-farmer consumer local produce e-commerce platform.

Jean-Philippe, how would you best describe what you do?

We’ve developed a collaborative network distribution model. On the one hand we allow individuals to buy all their groceries from small local producers. Furthermore, we collaborate with professionals who each manage their local distribution network but who pool their logistics and exchange of products through the use of the same web tool. Finally, the available range is much larger, and diverse and unnecessary transport are greatly reduced.

As an entrepreneur working in Belgium today, what do you think is your main purpose?

To show that it can be profitable to manage a distribution network with local products, quality and operating on the principles of fair trade by paying just small producers.

What key moment/person would you attribute to you becoming an entrepreneur?

It was a gradual process of several years since leaving university, I had no particular precept to entrepreneurial dynamism. And if I have identified a key moment or person , it’d have to be a course given by Jean-Marc Richir as part of a ONEM training in e-commerce.

To date, what concept are you the proudest of?

The Woodbox. The Woodbox is a large, weather-resistant box with wooden letters that is closed with a code. Succeeding in e-commerce is initially all about successful logistics. And most of the customers are no longer willing to monopolize every week a mid-day to wait for a delivery man