Open Social has been included into the 2022 MT/Sprout Challenger50: the list of fifty most challenging, innovative and fast-growing companies in the Netherlands. These entrepreneurs break with existing business models and show the established order how things can be done differently, faster and better. The original interview with Sprout/MT was posted in Dutch and has been translated below.
Taco Potze and Bram ten Hove use Open Social to build online communities with a mission. With this model they compete against Facebook and other big tech players.
What: Platform for online communities
Who: Taco Potze (38) and Bram ten Hove (34)
Challenges: Higher Logic, Hivebrite, Facebook and others
Funding: Approximately 2 million euros
If your pitch wins in tenders in which Salesforce and Microsoft compete, you are doing something right. Taco Potze and Bram ten Hove proved this last year, when the European Commission became a customer of their Open Social.
Open Social is the tech company with which Potze and Ten Hove build communities based on open source software, online platforms within which participants can communicate and share information. Call it the successor to systems we used to call “the intranet.”
Large institutions and companies preceded the European Commission: Greenpeace, the United Nations and Oxfam also work with Open Social. The common thread is clear: according to Potze, his challenger focuses on ‘mission-driven’ online communities.
Benefits of open source
Transparency and collaboration are of paramount importance – which is why the technology is open source. That also distinguishes the Dutch global player from big tech. Although, of course, Potze does work with them when it’s useful. However, it itself remains far from the closed model in which the biggest competitors like to suck their customers in.
No, users can download Open Social and start using it themselves. The makers earn from the more extensive functions and apps and the services around them, as is usual with open source.
“Open source has many advantages,” Potze previously told MT/Sprout. “We can innovate much faster, because we work with a large community of developers. A lot of knowledge is shared there. They often fix bugs and provide input on our product development. It also keeps costs low compared to competitors. In addition, it is an attractive sales channel, because many organizations, when faced with the choice to host it themselves, often opt for professional implementation and maintenance.”
Funding from Peak, Nimbus and Rabobank
They once started as GoalGorilla in Enschede and in the early years built on the basis of an hourly invoice for customers. In 2019, Potze c.s. turned their agency into a company with software as a product. First with crowdfunding to cover the development costs, in 2020 Peak and Nimbus Ventures stepped in for a combined amount of 1.25 million euros.
Indeed: in the darkest corona months, the Facebook challenger managed to convince investors. Corona gave a big push to the demand, because organizations suddenly had to work together 100 percent virtually. “That gave Peak and Nimbus the final push,” Potze said at the time. In 2022, he raised money again from his shareholders and also joined by Rabobank.
Open Social prefers not to give exact turnover figures, but this year the recurring turnover will again be tens of percent higher than in 2021. Looking ahead, Potze is confident about a possible recession. “We moved to a default alive, or cash flow neutral, position this year, so that we are no longer dependent on new funding, while we continue to grow and invest.”