Scale-up Simplicate Conquers Europe with Strategic Collaboration

Gerard Loode & Peter Hager, Founders of Simplicate

In the competitive SaaS market, Simplicate, a provider of CRM and project management software, is taking a new step. Founded in 2014 by Peter Hager and Gerard Loode, the scale-up not only celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, but also marks this milestone with a significant development: the recent partnership with Blinqx. This strategic move is set to considerably increase Simplicate’s influence and reach within Europe. 

You can also listen to the complete interview with Peter Hager in Dutch here.

Founding and vision of Simplicate 
The roots of Simplicate are in the shared experience of founders Peter Hager and Gerard Loode, who both worked as consultants and repeatedly encountered the same complex problems at different companies. “At every organisation we entered, we encountered complex processes that remarkably resembled those of other companies,” explains Peter Hager. This led to the realisation that there was a need for a standardised solution that not only increased efficiency but was also built on a strong business management concept, specially designed for service-oriented businesses. 

With a clear and ambitious vision, they decided to develop a 'best practice' software product. "We wanted to create a product that fully integrated our own vision, which was immediately deployable. This would enable us to implement it quickly at customers' sites and then focus on further refining the vision, rather than starting from scratch with each new customer," says Peter. This approach led to the development of 'opinionated' software, meaning that Simplicate not only provides functional tools but also a methodology that significantly contributes to the improvement of their clients' business operations. 

Expansion to Amsterdam 
Three years after their start, Simplicate opened a new office in Amsterdam in 2017. This move was driven by the desire to be closer to a large portion of their clients, who are concentrated in the Randstad, and to more easily access specialised talent present in the Amsterdam region. "The decision to open an office in Amsterdam was a strategic move to be closer to our clients and at the same time strengthen our team with talent that was harder to find in the north," explains Peter. This expansion also strengthened the company culture through regular interaction between the teams in Groningen and Amsterdam. 

Growth and challenges
When Simplicate started, the company faced significant financial challenges. Despite rapid growth, Simplicate required substantial resources to expand the team and fund software development. "At that time, we employed about eight people, and with just a few thousand euros in revenue per month, we were spending a lot of money. It was quite exciting," recalls Peter Hager. 

The search for funding was a critical moment for Simplicate. They chose the NOM, a party well-suited for the phase Simplicate was in. "Opting for the NOM was a logical decision for us. They understood where we were and trusted our plan, which was essential at that time," Peter explains. The financing that resulted helped Simplicate to stabilize and continue growing. 

"After the initial investment by the NOM, we consciously chose not to pursue further external funding rounds. We have financed our growth from the proceeds of our own business operations. This has enabled us to remain independent and focus solely on our products and customers. Eventually, we were able to buy back the shares from NOM, allowing us to continue growing on our own strength," Peter explains. 

Simplicate and Blinqx Toast to a Successful Collaboration

Partnership with Blinqx 
The recent collaboration between Simplicate and Blinqx is more than just a corporate acquisition; it marks a new phase in Simplicate’s development. "We have entered into a partnership with Blinqx, which means they have acquired Simplicate, but we have also taken a stake in Blinqx," explains Peter. "This is not an exit from the company, but an opportunity to grow and enhance our products and market reach while staying true to our core. This step significantly broadens our capabilities. We gain access to new knowledge, broader networks, and deeper financial resources, essential for accelerating our innovation and expanding our market penetration. This partnership also allows us to extend our influence beyond the Netherlands, aiming to become a major player in the European tech sector." 

Despite the integration with a larger organisation, Simplicate retains its identity and autonomy. "It was important for us that Simplicate could still determine its own direction within the structure of Blinqx. This is crucial to making our partnership successful," emphasizes Peter. 

Does this mean Simplicate is leaving Groningen? Certainly not. "The expansion and growth of Simplicate actually creates more jobs and strengthens our regional economy," explains Peter. He emphasizes that the collaboration with Blinqx not only enables Simplicate to grow internationally but also contributes to local success. "We are proud to continue our growth from Groningen, a city that is much more to us than just a location." 

A business marriage 
The company culture at Simplicate is strongly shaped by the collaboration between the two founders, Peter Hager and Gerard Loode. Their relationship, characterized by deep respect and trust, plays a crucial role in how they lead the company. "It's a business marriage. So, you have ups, you have downs. Besides, you have different personalities that both bring something to the table. That's something you need and want to respect each other for," Peter says. 

As Simplicate grew, the role division between Peter and Gerard also evolved. Gerard mainly focuses on finance and business processes as CFO, while Peter takes on the role of CEO. "We were co-CEOs or co-founders for a long time, but it wasn't always clear to the outside world who you could approach for what," explains Peter. "Whatever our title, in the end, we just make all decisions together, which works best for us." This collaboration has enabled them to make strategic decisions and continually redefine the direction of Simplicate. 

The future  
Peter explains that the collaboration with Blinqx is the beginning of an exciting new phase for Simplicate. "Thanks to Blinqx, we can explore new areas and improve our products and services, always respecting our business principles," Peter states. 

The focus is not only on expanding Simplicate’s reach but also on deepening relationships with customers and enhancing the user experience. Peter underlines, "Our aim is to develop cutting-edge technologies that truly meet what our customers need. We strive not just to meet their expectations but to exceed them, always being honest and reliable." 

Reflecting on the impact of this partnership for Groningen, Peter says, "This development not only strengthens our position as a leading tech company but also enhances Groningen’s reputation as a center of technological innovation and business success. We are proud to continue our growth from our home base." 

Asked if Peter has any advice for other founders, he replies, "Stay true to your own ideas but stay close to your customers and your team. They are the backbone of your business. It is crucial to understand the real needs of your market and to respond smartly." 

Stay true to your own ideas but stay close to your customers and your team. They are the backbone of your business.