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Marc Gelissen: “Before we knew it, we were Mendix partner of the year twice”

A year after it was founded, Bizzomate was a small low-code business with ten consultants working from the south of the Netherlands. However, we wanted more, we wanted to ‘Grow Together, and achieve our everlasting goal that never stops. We wanted to achieve these goals in an organizational structure without hierarchy. And besides that, we wanted to grow together with society, but how were we going to achieve this? In the second part of this blog series dedicated to our 10-year anniversary, you’ll discover how we organized our growth in the past ten years.

Marc: “A few months after founding Bizzomate, I had dinner with a Mendix management team member. I talked to him about the growth we wanted to achieve and told him that we wanted to be ‘Mendix partner of the year’, the partner with the highest annual turnover. He smiled at me and made it clear that he wasn’t sure that was going to happen. That only motivated me even more. During our second year, we finished just behind Capgemini, a large consultancy. In the third year, we succeeded: we became a partner of the year and my contact person at Mendix congratulated us on the victory. Our motto is the same as that of Disney hero Buzz Lightyear: to infinity… and beyond, so in 2020 we got awarded again.”

“Our customer growth initially came from our business network. The seminars we organized on business agility also brought us many new customers in those early years. Our office in Meerssen soon became too small and we moved to a beautiful office villa in Valkenburg. We had already opened a new office in Breda by then. When that became too small as well, we added Schiphol Rijk and Dordrecht so that our colleagues coming from other parts of the country did not have to travel as far. We continued to grow in colleagues mainly via business networks. Our company culture, the fun we exude and our continuous focus on the personal growth of our colleagues made it relatively easy to find new team members.”

“Our growth did bring other new challenges: how to ensure that all these new colleagues were moving in the same direction for instance? I don’t like hierarchy at all, so we mainly wanted an organizational structure without hierarchy. We consciously opted for a business with ‘guides’ and without managers. Guides show you the way, but the road you choose is up to you. People who embrace this autonomy fit our company culture. They are team players who want to grow personally and they are not driven by boundless ambition.”

“Because of the projects we carried out for customers we also grew as a business. We learned for instance that you can build a Mendix application at lightning speed; but if you don’t really understand your customer’s problem, the application you built won’t solve the problem and in many cases, the application will hardly be used. By asking the right questions we discovered how to understand underlying problems. Five times ‘why’ became our starting point to get to the core of the customer problem.”

“Over the years, we’ve transformed from fast Mendix app builders to excellent business brains. People who analyze a problem first before they start building applications. That may slow things down a little bit, but it is much more effective.”

Growing with society
“We also started to work more on growing together with our society which was quite difficult at first. It is now much more common for companies to engage in CSR projects. Ten years ago, it was still in its infancy. That made it difficult to convince potential social partners that we really wanted to contribute selflessly.”

Personal CSR projects
“In the first years, we made one person responsible for recruiting social partners. Our colleagues could select their preferred CSR project from these charities. Until I had a conversation with a professor in the field of Social Responsibility at Erasmus University. She triggered me to leave the choice for a CSR project up to the colleagues themselves. She told me that motivation is much higher with self-chosen goals. It turned out to be a piece of great advice because in practice I really see that it motivates people much more.”

“During our weekly call, one of the colleagues can now share their personal CSR project with the rest of us. From cooking in a communal kitchen to helping out in a nursing home, our colleagues share many different projects. Even when people are no longer working for us, they often continue working for the charity they chose when they were working here. We are convinced that every person wants to do good for others and with these projects, we help them to overcome their initial doubts.”

“What I like best is how I see my colleagues grow as a result. It puts things into perspective; they become better team players; gain more empathy for others and their social skills grow. These are all useful qualities when communicating with our customers and that makes them even better consultants.”

A solid foundation for the next ten years
“After ten years Bizzomate, I am extremely proud of our beautiful customers, our great team and the social element in our company. I, therefore, believe that our business has a solid foundation. We thought through very carefully what kind of business we wanted to be when we started the company and it is working. For example, we have chosen our goal of ‘growing together with the company, colleagues and society. A message that appeals to new generations and also future proofs our business.”

Nobody knows what the next ten years will look like. We want to move forward anyway because everyone knows that you have to keep moving. You can read more about our vision for the next 10 years in our final blog.

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