Turnover tripled in the space of a year… average growth of thirty percent recorded for ten consecutive quarters… These are the kind of figures that every start-up dreams of on its way to becoming a scale-up. Yet these are precisely the figures generated by Twikit and Waylay, two Flemish B2B software scale-ups that are busy conquering the world. Piet Vandaele, CEO and co-founder of Waylay, and Martijn Joris, CEO and co-founder of Twikit, proudly share their story. Both talk about the added value provided by the imec.istart business accelerator program during their start-up period.
The imec.istart program not only accelerates start-ups thanks to the help and support it provides; the program itself is also growing. You only have to look at its dazzling recent growth figures, its international recognition and a number of new developments. For instance, since the beginning of this year, imec.istart has raised a hundred million euro in follow-up investments. It has also been awarded as the best European University Business Accelerator by UBI Global. And it has expanded its areas of expertise through a number of new thematic verticals (FinTech, InsurTech & Cyber Security, SportsTech, etc.). But probably the best parameter for the success of a startup accelerator is still its portfolio of successful alumni.
Twikit: personalization and mass production hand in hand
Look up the term ‘mass production’ in Wikipedia and you’ll find it defined as “the production of large amounts of standardized products […], popularized in the late 1910s and 1920s by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company.” In fact, the concept of mass production has dominated the way we behave as consumers for the lion’s share of the past hundred years. But times are changing. Anyone who has tried configuring a car online will understand what we’re talking about: whereas previously all you could choose was the color and the type of rims, now the customization possibilities are almost endless: roof, mirrors, spoilers, stripes, dashboard, interior lighting, etc. You name it and there’s a way of adjusting it to suit your preferences. Yet all of these cars have to keep rolling off a production line that is basically designed for producing large volumes of the same thing.
Mobile user interface for personalization of a car, as generated through Twikbot®.
The same applies in other sectors: jewelry, business gifts, retail, interior design and so on. How do you realize ‘made-to-fit’ production that at the same time has to be scalable? Twikit has found the answer to this conundrum and has built a worldwide business based on it, attracting customers such as BMW (Mini), Philips and Swarovski. Twikbot®, Twikit’s software platform, provides these world players with a one-stop solution for connecting the graphic user interface for personalization by consumers to digitally controlled production runs.
This is how it works: the Twikit customer uploads a technical 3D drawing in Twikbot and states which parameters the end-user can modify within what boundaries: shape, dimensions, color, material, texture, etc. Twikbot® then automatically generates a consumer interface for websites, apps, kiosks and so on. Finally, it creates all of the digital files needed to produce the personalized product: input for 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines or the manufacturer’s dedicated machines. Integration with existing business software (SAP, Microsoft, etc.) is all part of the offering. And if Twikit’s customers don’t have their own production facilities, they can call on the services of one of the manufacturers in the Twikit network.