Case study: iText Group

Case study: iText Group

ThinkfreeiText Group NV is the Ghent (BE) based company that developed the Java library “iText” thus offering developers an open source library to process PDF files. The company won, amongs other awards, the Belcham Entrepreneurship Award in the category “Most promising Company of the Year” in 2014 and was named the fastest growing company in Belgium by Deloitte. These result did not go unnoticed and so the company attracted the attention of the South-Korean company Hancom. In 2015 both companies created a joint venture wich was named “Thinkfree”.

Thinkfree is the brand through which both companies offer the Hancom software (primarily a package of office applications). In a later phase they plan to add functionalities to combine potenially alternative go2market models. Because of the popularity of for example MS Office 365, Thinkfree realised that it would not be an easy task to claim a piece of the market. It was the Chief Strategy Officer of iText Group NV / Thinkfree NV, Bruno Lowagie, who contacted us.

Our mission was to find in what way and to what target group Thinkfree would best focus on to successfully enter the market, keeping in mind its complexity.

bruno lowagie

First of all, we took the time for Techtomar to really understand the exact offering of Thinkfree by getting hands on with the software. This way we learned about the possibilities and functionalities, and on the other hand, we could immediatly start a series of brainstorm sessions to come up with a first list of possible strategies. Next we chose 3 possible business models to go to the market and we presented these to the people of Thinkfree.

Our next step was to validate these ideas in the real market. Because Thinkfree had no active customers in the market in Belgium at that time, we performed a series of in-depth interviews with companies that qualified as prospects. In the first batch of interviews, we spoke to (amongst others) MultiMinds, Peepl and Aspex. After distilling the first feedback and making the first temporary conclusions, we went back to Thinkfree. We presented our findings and fine-tuned the approaches we were working with.

In a second batch of interviews, we spoke to Proximus, Avanade Netherlands and Deloitte. Again, we gained a deeper and clearer insight into the market situation and into the expectation of potential customer towards an offering such as the offering of Thinkfree. Armed with this profounded knowledge, we again tweaked the business models we had drafted and went back to Thinkfree to present them with our findings. Together we made some clear choices on how we would tackle the last batch of validation interviews.

In the third and final series of interviews, we tested the business model we had in mind with amongs others Grant Thornton consulting, KPN and Nomadesk. We gathered all the feedback that was given to us and processed that information.

The result of this mission was very interesting. Not only did we create a clear and complete image of the market for Thinkfree (especially on the complex offering of cloud applications and solutions in Europa with a focus on the BeNeLux), but we could also present Thinkfree with a validated business model. On top of that, we were also able to give them a hot lead. One of the companies we spoke to during the interviews had shown real interest in the offering of Thinkfree.

The people at Thinkfree informed us that they were very pleased with these validated insights and that they could now in their turn discuss the new approach with their partners in South-Korea. The fact that they already indicated that they would certainly contact us again in case they would need a new round of business model validation, shows that Techtomar was able to deliver the expected results.

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