Buying a new car or a wedding ring can often be a challenge – there is always something we would like to modify to make them perfect especially since they are important and major investments to be made.
Only a decade ago, having the possibility to fully customise your products, including cars and jewelry, was unimaginable. Twikit, the industry and the overall winner of this year’s EBN Congress’ startup pitching competition, challenged this notion.
Founded in 2012 in Antwerp, Belgium, Twikit’s software platform Twikbot® translates customers’ preferences from a digital input (3D file, 3D scan, AI) to a configurable format for visual customisation and digital manufacturing.
All started with three friends Martijn Joris, Georges Lieben and Gijs Hoppenbrouwers, passionate about 3D printing and bridging the gap between digital and physical. At the time, the concept of customisation was still new and not fully in sync with customers’ desires. They wanted to bring the technology to users helping them create their dream products right from the products’ websites.
They started developing the platform testing it on business gifts, with local business gifts companies becoming their first clients. The business took off, expanding their market outreach to international companies selling business gifts. This was just a beginning – the team quickly realised they could improve the platform further making it generic and applicable to many other industries (from lifestyle to automotive, construction, etc).
Having a skilled and passionate team with the right idea and market fit should certainly lead to success, but this success doesn’t happen overnight. Encouraged with the first sales in business gifts industry, team wanted to go step further and reach other industries.
“We invested all our money and energy to make it happen”, the founders remember. As many other passionate entrepreneurs, Twikit followed common “funding model” in the startup industry - “bootstrapping”, starting a business without any external help or capital using their own savings.
Working without wages was not the only challenge they faced – another one was companies’ old-fashioned mindset, which failed to meet the needs of evolving customers’ preferences. The companies often have difficulties realising the competitive advantage customisation brings.
In 2012, when Twikit started, some websites offered certain degree of customisation to the users, but the possibilities were quite limited and not in line with raising customers’ expectations. The Twikit founders wanted to break these limitations, by creating a fully customer-centric platform. Twikit’s cloud-based software, Twikbot®, is a fairly generic personalisation platform easy to integrate in websites offering customisation for their products.
In 2016, consumer electronics giant Philips launched the world's first 3D printed shaver in collaboration with Twikit.
From local companies selling business gifts and jewelry, Twikit expanded their customer base to homeware, lifestyle and automotive industry with Phillips, Walmart and BMW becoming their customers. After the first year, they got investment from a local investment company, Buysse & Partners Invest, which has supported them ever since. Moreover, EBN Member IMEC has also supported the startup since 2013, assisting them with hands-on knowledge, and by opening their valuable network and opportunities, including the pitching opportunity at EBN Congress!
One of the greatest success up to date is the collaboration with BMW, as Twikit’s platform was chosen as the best in offering the next level car individualisation.
Thanks to increasing client base, Twikit’s team keeps expanding, currently employing 27 people.
Twikit’s team during a (family) teambuilding
Twikit – Scaleup of the year and EBN Congress winner
Twikit started gaining more customers and exposure internationally and their innovative business was recognised in EBN’s ecosystem too, with both EBN Member Startups.be (Belgium) and EBN Congress awarding the startup this year. At EBN Member Startups.be’s Tech Startup Day in March this year in Brussels, Twikit was selected as the scaleup of the year. The startup was awarded by three-month coaching programme at the Flanders New York Accelerator (FNYA).
Twikit winning a prize as the “Scaleup of the year” at Startups.be’s Tech Startup Day
At this year’s EBN Congress’ pitching competition gathering top startups coming from the network and beyond, Twikit pitched in “industry category”. This was one of the three (space, growth, industry) tracks of this year’s EBN Congress hosted and co-organised by EBN Member Technoport SA in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg (06-08 June).
Twikit impressed the judging panel and was the finalist in the industry category. That allowed them to run for the final prize, which they ended up winning. Besides the cash prize (16.000€ in total), the startup won the participation in Microsoft Boost Program, a 3-day workshop which will enable Twikit to work closely with the corporate and see how Microsoft can commercially support them in growing their business further.
Olivier De Deken, Twikit’s CTO, receiving the award at EBN Congress with Javier Echarri, EBN’s CEO and Diego Debiasio, EBN Member Technoport SA’s CEO
What has Twikit said about EBN Congress?
“It was really inspiring to meet so many people from diverse environments, and more importantly to hear rough points of the others! It feels good to see that we are not alone in this struggle—it’s just the life of a startup.
Regarding our winning, we are obviously very happy! And, for us, the money is one thing (a 16,000 euro prize) but the real value here is the three days workshops. Thanks to Technoport and EBN we will be able to learn how not to repeat mistakes and gain significant knowledge from others. This is priceless for a startup like ours”, said Olivier De Deken, Twikit’s CTO.
Are you interested in supporting this startup further? Twikit is in the process of finalising Series A funding, with the aim to close it by the end of the year. Read more in Silicon Luxembourg, this year’s EBN Congress’ media sponsor.
Congratulations to Twikit and we wish them even more success in the future!
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