Open Social, a key player in the open-source digital landscape, reached a significant milestone this year: It’s our 15-year anniversary! We celebrated this milestone at the Open Social Summit, where Jamila Kheil – Customer Success Manager at Open Social – showcased the fascinating journey of the company by shedding light on its evolution, growth, and commitment to open-source principles.
The earlier agency (GoalGorilla) was the brainchild of co-founders Taco Potze & Mieszko Czyzyk. While studying Industrial Engineering and working part-time at a local internet bureau, Taco and Mieszko observed a significant gap in the digital marketing sector. Many websites failed to manage UX and UI issues effectively and lacked a clear customer journey flow, which motivated them to start their own company to address these issues.
The first web development project
The journey towards Open Social as we know it today started with the creation of the first web development project, the VMI Group. Even though they had limited knowledge of PHP Content Management Systems (CMS), Taco and Mieszko opted for an open-source CMS, inspired by their own OsCommerce experience. This led to a specialization in Drupal CMS, which resulted in them gaining complex and lengthy projects, including a volunteer community platform for Greenpeace Netherlands.
The success of their projects, particularly the award-winning Greenpeace Greenwire community platform, led to a significant increase in demand and attention. However, the stress of project-based work, the uptake in cloud and SaaS, the resistance of clients to pay large costs with long deadlines, and the launch of Drupal 8, motivated the team to develop a new open-source Drupal 8 distribution. This was set to be a SaaS platform, including hosting, maintenance, and support services. This project would transition them from an agency to a new SaaS company.
Crowdfunding Open Social
However, in order to financially cover this transition, they needed an investment. So, they launched a crowdfunding campaign, where they successfully raised €210.000. As a result of this fundraising, Open Social was born. Why “Open Social”? “Open” signifies the commitment to open-source, as well as the platform’s open capability to integrate with other platforms such as CRM systems, while “Social” highlights the commitment to sharing knowledge and information, both online in the community and offline in the company’s culture.
Open Social began its new software development in 2016, leveraging experience gained during the creation of the Greenwire platform. This initial prototype sparked curiosity, leading to intensive testing and garnered attention from the United Nations. This resulted in the launch of two UNDP platforms using the Open Social software in 2017. In the years to come, Open Social would grow technically and financially, and this ultimately led to the expansion of our client base.
Post-Pandemic and The Future
In 2020, as the Pandemic hit and organizations hurried to move their communities online, Open Social’s demand increased, leading to their seed investment and growth. In July 2020, P Capital and Nimbus Ventures invested €1.25 million into Open Social. Ever since this investment we have grown with the ambition of our users by innovating our solution, expanding our teams, and strengthening our expertise.
The success of Open Social is a testament to the collective effort and unwavering commitment of its team and partners. We must also give a special shout-out to our longest partner, Lemberg Solutions, based out of Ukraine, as they have contributed massively to the success of Open Social despite the upheaval in Ukraine in the past years. They have been integral in propelling the product forward by working closely with our clients throughout the years.
Happy fifteen years of Open Social! In case you want to know what we are working on next: read Moritz Arendt’s blog on the Future of Open Social.
Scroll through the presentation below our download the slides: