Never stop being a start-up
How ViCre intends to beat the statistics
Prime Foundation Partner ViCre has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. “Against all the statistics, we’re in it for the long haul,” says Managing Director Eddy Helsen. That was the plan when he started out, and it still is. Or, as his daughter and right-hand woman Annelies, who joined the company in 2008, puts it: “We want to double our core team every five years, as we’ve done up to now.”
In 2004, at the age of 48, after an international high-flying career in the automotive industry, academia, business and IT consulting, Eddy started up his own business. The company was profitable by 2005 and has remained so ever since. ViCre is based in Belgium, but its clients are located in the rest of Europe and in the US – mostly large multinationals, ranging from Adidas to Autogrill. ViCre enables innovation, its projects impacting thousands of people all over the world. Annelies: “Our approach is universal. We work a lot with multicultural groups, which have a leverage effect. Many of our original clients are still on board. We believe in long-term partnerships, accompanying our clients on their journey towards transformation.”
How did they get this far? “The first five years were challenging,” Eddy recalls. “Fragmented is how I’d describe our offering at the time. We developed and delivered, and vice versa, catering to ad hoc requests. And like any good start-up, we developed ‘minimal viable prototypes’ and worked with our clients to fine-tune them.” Annelies smiles: “Nowadays that’s known as co-creation.” They must have been doing something right because they had nothing but satisfied clients. Their secret? Eddy: “We were renewing. The industry back then was all about six sigma, lean, operational excellence... and here we were, focusing on forecastable, profitable product market combinations as a basis for sustainable growth.”
As well as having happy customers, an audit by Innovatiecentrum Antwerpen (Antwerp Innovation Centre) confirmed that they were on the right track, though it also warned that they should cover the entire customer journey. “We were all too aware of that. While we had plenty of recurring business, we were too busy to target prospects,” says Annelies. “The bottleneck? People. Extensive travelling, being alone at a client’s several days a week, every week, all year round – it’s not for everybody. ViCre is an extremely satisfying and rewarding, but all-consuming way of life. Luckily, we had a very strong core team.”
The audit was a milestone, as Eddy explains. “It marked the start of a new phase, during which we evolved towards a more integrated, professionalised offering and approach, reaching what I’d call a basic maturity level, without losing our start-up culture. We developed our Master Plan, a method enabling innovation throughout the entire organisation. No matter how big our client’s organisation, this approach ensures that everyone does what they need to do.”
The Master Plan paid off, for both ViCre and its clients. The presentation of one of its case studies at a We Invite for You session organised by the Centre for Excellence in Business Process Management caught the attention of Professor Stijn Viaene and in December 2013 ViCre was offered a Prime Foundation Partnership. Eddy: “For us, this was yet another milestone and the recognition of years of hard work.”
What’s next? “We’re going to focus on connected, networked organisations. Mind you, this is not about connection in a literal sense, via hardware and software. It’s about the internal company being in sync with itself and the outside world. No matter how fast the world changes, if you’re in sync, you’ll be able to change just as fast,” Eddy enthuses. “So, in the coming years – and our partnership will no doubt play a role – we’ll be helping our clients get into sync, by providing them with a holistic compass that will enable them to do the right things right in any and all circumstances.”
ViCre’s recipe for growth can be summed up as follows: to continuously innovate, to never stop evolving and improving, while expanding its customer base of multinational clients. It’s never stopped being a start-up; it’s just become a better one.
ViCre is short for vision creation. Founded in 2004, the company offers business consulting with impact to clients in Europe and the US. It specialises in enterprise innovation, including strategy, knowledge and leadership development. Using its own proven methods, tools and techniques, ViCre helps to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of an organisation, to ensure the right things are done right. ViCre is committed to adding value by increasing customer, shareholder and employee satisfaction though customer engagement, resource optimisation and employee empowerment.