BizzMine prepares for next phase of growth
For more and more companies, quality management is a challenge and often a strict condition to do business and grow. Fortunately, BizzMine, the Belgian B2B SaaS platform makes very user-friendly quality monitoring and management possible. Their zero code Quality Management Software is a hit in China. Meanwhile, 350 companies with 75,000 users in 45 countries work with the easy-to-use software. The collaboration between BizzMine and Fortino Capital promises to take the B2B software company based in Kortrijk to the next level.
In this double interview the founder of BizzMine, Peter De Brabandere and Toon Smets, investment manager at Fortino Capital, explain how the collaboration came about and how it will lead to an acceleration of growth.
First let's go back to the origins. How was BizzMine established?
Peter De Brabandere, founder of BizzMine: “It was 1995. The internet had just started out. Google wasn't around yet. I had barely finished school when I started a business in corporate networks with a technical partner. But that business plan didn't last long because a customer asked us if we could find software to monitor the quality process in their company. When I couldn't find it, I suggested that I write a program myself. I programmed every day of the week, 15 hours a day until the first version was ready. Even though the program could still be improved, my customer was very enthusiastic. And they still are! As a large German industrial company, they work with our brand new platform which we built in house over the course of eight years.”
Your company grew under its own steam for 27 years. Were you looking for an investor?
Peter: “No, on the contrary. I was always being approached by investors, but I held off. Because I knew that I could only sell the first slice of my business once. This meant it had to be at the right time and to the right party. With our new platform, launched at the end of 2018, we were growing by an average of 25 per cent a year. As long as we kept this up, I thought it would be fine and lucrative to be, and remain, 100 per cent, the sole owner. I did plan to seek external capital by 2024."
Toon Smets, Investment Manager at Fortino Capital: “But Peter was found sooner by Fortino. It's important to know that we scour the Benelux for growth companies and contact them. Three years ago we'd already approached BizzMine... in vain. Peter wasn't interested. He preferred to grow independently.”
“We did our best to maintain our position in the Belgian league. Now we'll play in the Champions League with the necessary coaching, superior training techniques, more resources and an even stronger team."
Peter De Brabandere - Founder BizzMine
Why did you end up joining forces with Fortino then?
Peter: “I found out that Fortino was not only a financial partner. Our chats were mainly about cross-fertilisation, networking and working together for growth. I experienced Jeroen, Steven and Toon's enormous expertise first-hand. They know the pitfalls and how to scale up B2B software companies. That's why my view of them changed rapidly. It felt like the perfect moment to bring a good partner on board.”
Why did Fortino invest in BizzMine?
Toon: “BizzMine is a perfect fit for our ambitions with the Fortino growth fund. We want to support entrepreneurs in achieving their growth plans and we focus exclusively on B2B software and IT companies. BizzMine built a modern cloud platform, which is active across different sectors and is used internationally. After a meeting with the management, we saw no obstacles. We want to provide commercial support to the BizzMine team and help them attract new people to boost further internationalisation.”
When will we see the first result of the collaboration?
Peter: “We drew up a joint plan to professionalise the team and the organisation. Our current team of 20 people will be expanded. Thanks to an independent board of directors, we will bring in more external expertise and expand our network.” Toon: “The organisation will soon feel this additional support, with about five new employees in 2022 and the cross-fertilisation of expertise from our other B2B software companies.”
“Our goal is to step up growth and to make BizzMine a leading player in the European market for quality software. To achieve this, we want to focus on further organic growth and we're looking for relevant acquisition opportunities."
Toon Smets, Investment Manager Fortino Capital
BizzMine is a major player in the Benelux. What does the future hold?
Toon: “Our goal is to step up growth and to make BizzMine a leading player in the European market for quality software. To achieve this, we want to focus on further organic growth and we're looking for relevant acquisition opportunities.”
Peter: “Our market is also growing enormously due to increasingly stricter quality regulations. Governments are implementing more standards and we’re also seeing more and more quality standards from US multinationals flowing to Europe and our smaller and medium-sized companies. Lately, pharmaceutical companies have been imposing strict quality requirements on subcontractors, logistics parties, developers of medical devices and so on. We expect that the cosmetics sector will also become more regulated in the near future.”
How does the investment feel for you as founder?
Peter: “Together with my business partner, we had been making all decisions alone. That put pressure on me. Since the investment, I feel the weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It feels good. We were like an island, whereas now we get inspiring and fresh input. I can take more distance because BizzMine is excellently managed by CEO Sibren Missiaen.
We did our best to maintain our position in the Belgian league. Now we'll play in the Champions League with the necessary coaching, superior training techniques, more resources and an even stronger team. BizzMine is taking on the role of challenger in a growing, and more international, market.”