The Odoo Story : Making companies a better place.

Making companies a better place. One app at a time.

I needed to change the world. I wanted to ... You know how it is when you are young; you have big dreams, a lot of energy and naive stupidity. My dream was to lead the enterprise management market with a fully open source software. (I also wanted to get 100 employees before 30 years old with a self-financed company but I failed this one by only a few months).

To fuel my motivation, I had to pick someone to fight against. In business, it's like a playground. When you arrive in a new school, if you want to quickly become the leader, you must choose the class bully, the older guy who terrorises small boys, and kick his butt in front of everyone. That was my strategy with SAP, the enterprise software giant.

So, in 2005, I started to develop the TinyERP product, the software that (at least in my mind) would change the enterprise world. While preparing for the "day of the fight" in 2006, I bought the domain name. I put it on hold for 6 years, waiting for the right moment to use it. I thought it would take 3 years to deprecate a 77 billion dollars company just because open source is so cool. Sometimes it's better for your self-motivation not to face reality...

To make things happen, I worked hard, very hard. I worked 13 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no vacations for 7 years. I lost friendships and broke up with my girlfriend in the process (fortunately, I found a more valuable wife now. I will explain later why she is worth 1 million EUR :).

Three years later, I discovered you can't change the world if you are "tiny". Especially if the United States is part of this world, where it's better to be a BigERP, rather than a TinyERP. Can you imagine how small you feel in front of Danone's directors asking; "But why should we pay millions of dollars for a tiny software?" So, we renamed TinyERP to OpenERP.

As we worked hard, things started to evolve. We were developing dozens of modules for OpenERP, the open source community was growing and I was even able to pay all employees' salaries at the end of the month without fear (which was a situation I struggled with for 4 years).

In 2010, we had a 100+ employees company selling services on OpenERP and a powerful but ugly product. This is what happens when delivering services to customers distracts you from building an exceptional product.
It was time to do a pivot in the business model.

The Pivot

We wanted to switch from a service company to a software publisher company. This would allow to increase our efforts in our research and development activities. As a result, we changed our business model and decided to stop our services for customers and focus on building a strong partner network and maintenance offer. This would cost money, so I had to raise a few million euros.

After a few months of pitching investors, I got roughly 10 LOI from different VCs. We chosed Sofinnova Partners, the biggest European VC, and Xavier Niel the founder of Iliad, the only company in France funded in the past 10 years to have reached the 1 billion EUR valuation.

I signed the LOI. I didn't realize that this contract could have turned me into a homeless person. (I already had a dog, all I needed was to lose a lot of money to become homeless). The fundraising was based on a company valuation but there was a financial mechanism to re-evaluate the company up by 9.8 m€ depending on the turnover of the next 4 years. I should have received warrants convertible into shares if we achieved the turnover targeted in the business plan.

The night before receiving the warrants in front of the notary, my wife checked the contracts. She asked me what would be the taxation on these warrants. I rang the lawyer and guess what? Belgium is probably the only country in the world where you have to pay taxes on warrants when you receive them, even if you never reach the conditions to convert them into shares. If I had accepted these warrants, I would have had to pay a 12.5% tax on 9.8 m€; resulting in a tax of 1.2m€ to pay in 18 months! So, my wife is worth 1.2 million EUR. I would have ended up a homeless person without her, as I still did not have a salary at that time. 

We changed the deal and I got the 3 million EUR. It allowed me to recruit a rocking management team.


Being a mature company

With this money in our bank account, we boosted two departments: R&D and Sales. We burned two million EUR in 18 months, mostly in salaries. The company started to grow even faster. We developed a partner network of 500 partners in 100 countries and we started to sign contracts with 6 zeros.

Then, things became different. You know, tedious things like handling human resources, board meetings, dealing with big customer contracts, traveling to launch international subsidiaries. We did boring stuff like budgets, career paths, management meetings, etc.

2011 was a complex year. We did not meet our expectations: we only achieved 70% of the forecasted sales budget. Our management meetings were tense. We under performed. We were not satisfied with ourselves. We had a constant feeling that we missed something. It's a strange feeling to build extraordinary things but to not be proud of ourselves.

But one day, someone (I don't remember who, I have a goldfish memory) made a graph of the monthly turnover of the past 2 years. It was like waking up from a nighmare. In fact, it was not that bad, we had multiplied the monthly turnover by 10 over the span of roughly two years! This is when we understood that OpenERP is a marathon, not a sprint. Only 100% growth a year is ok... if you can keep the rhythm for several years. 

As usual, I should have listened to my wife. She is way more lucid than I am. Every week I complained to her "It's not good enough, we should grow faster, what am I missing?" and she used to reply: "But you already are the fastest growing company in Belgium!" (Deloitte awarded us as the fastest growing company of Belgium with 1549% growth of the turnover between 2007 and 2011) 

Changing the world

Then, the dream started to become reality. We started to get clues that what we did would change the world:

Something is happening... And it's big!

New financing in 2014

After years of rapid growth, we achieved another amazing goal - we secured a new round of USD 10 Millions of financing, jointly provided by leading venture capital firms XAnge (France), SRIW (Belgium), Sofinnova (France), and the management team.

The new financing will support the acceleration of the outstanding growth the company has seen over the last years, enabling the doubling of the commercial force and increased R&D staff - already 100+ people strong. 

The rise of Odoo

After having disrupted the ERP market, OpenERP moved far beyond the boundaries of traditional ERP players. The integration of business activities is not anymore restricted to sales, accounting, inventory and procurements. In june 2014, we released version 8 with an awesome CMS & eCommerce, a Point of Sale, an integrated Business Intelligence engine and much more. (and 3000+ modules)

Our exceptional technology allowed us to move to newer markets (CMS & eCommerce) and propose a product that disrupt existing open source players (Wordpress, Magento, etc). The OpenERP CMS is so good that even top competitors admited it publicly when we released the beta version.

If current open source players have a real technical challenge to follow us, we also have a huge marketing challenge. Wordpress has 22% of all internet websites. We were the leader in management software, but we start with 0% of the website market.

To move forward, we raised USD 10 millions in may 2014 in order to boost marketing and sales activities. In order to support our vision, we had to change the name that is not restricted to ERPs functions. We needed a name that allows to support our ambitions; build business solutions like CMS, eCommerce, Business Intelligence and, who knows, even sky rockets or driverless cars in the future...

In may 2014, we rename the company and product to Odoo. And a new story just started...

How Toyota Uses Odoo After Just 6 Months of Integration

Toyota Material Handling France is a member of the Toyota Industries Corporation, which operates in 5 regions in the material handling industry. The company mainly focuses on manufacturing and selling forklifts throughout Europe, with their specialty being electric and IC-powered counterbalanced trucks under the Toyota brand. In addition, they also provide technical solutions and support, with 735 Toyota certified technicians available at an average of 25 km from any location. 
In addition to their own production, the company also does some importing and exporting within Europe of trucks bought from Japan, China and the US. Depending on the customer's request, some of these are then modified in their factory in France.

A Quicker Return on Investment

A couple of years before implementing Odoo, Toyota Material Handling, underwent some big organizational changes in their group. The aim was to restructure their operations in order to properly manage their distribution network and supplier units in Europe: one in Sweden, one in Italy and one in France.
Before Odoo they had built in a custom-made solution for the configuration of their highly customizable trucks. These trucks are custom designed by their customers and represent nearly 40% of the business. The problem they were faced with was that behind the scenes, the factory in Italy was not equipped with an adequate solution to go through all the necessary steps:

  • to properly acknowledge and take care of the orders received

  • to organize the production or purchase of the right trucks from the right business unit abroad, and subsequently organize shipment and invoice the customers

As their previous solution was also used as the configurator, it meant that changing one part of the solution meant taking down the entire old system and replacing it with something else. Therefore, they did some research and found that they had two possibilities; to replace the old solution with a new custom-made solution or replace it with an out-of-the-box solution. 

Toyota Material Handling didn't have an ERP in place, so that was one possibility they explored, but as they are in an "aggressive" market they couldn't afford to take risks with very big investments. They needed to a quick return on investment and a traditional ERP proved not to be the best solution for their requirements. That left them with a simple choice; to build their own system or to choose a cheaper solution - and the only solution that was able to pass the test was Odoo. For these any many more reasons, Toyota Material Handling decided to go with Odoo, with the official partner, Smile. 

The Scope of the Odoo Implementation

Even thought their initial focus was on Sales, the scope of solution that was implemented was much bigger than that;

  • First they needed Odoo Sales in order to manage their orders. As soon as an order is placed by a customer, they need need to make sure that the corresponding products are available, and for that they need Odoo Inventory

  • Next was managing the procurement. They have two flows for that;

    • On one hand they have products that are manufactured in-house and for that they use Odoo Manufacturing.

    • Then they have also some products that are imported from their factories in Japan, US and China, and for that they use Odoo Purchase.

  • Odoo Accounting was added in order to be be able to invoice their customers directly from Odoo

10 Reasons to Hire a Marketing Agency

One fact is that a marketing Agency has the power to grow your business fast than most marketing techniques. More over knowing that each business can have 10, 15, 20 social accounts, hiring a marketing agency allows you to get started with your campaigns on all your accounts almost immediately. You should start by first understanding your needs and sharing them with the agency. Digital campaigns work best if all parties are on the same page. Plus, your agency should enjoy the freedom of making decisions that best suit your interests and budget plan.


The primary reason that businesses choose to partner with a marketing agency is that they get an entire team of specialized, experienced professionals working on their project for significantly less than it would cost to build that same team in-house. Most small businesses don’t have enough work to justify bringing on a full-time developer, full-time SEO expert, and full-time social media account manager. However, a large majority of companies would benefit from the services of each. Partnering with an agency brings those skills and more to the table without any additional investment. Having such a vast range of skills at your company’s disposal also makes it easier to diversify your marketing efforts.


Not only are there more people with different skill sets within an agency, but also those people generally have a greater depth of experience. Agency professionals are typically specialists in a particular area, plus your company benefits from the competitive landscape in which agencies are hiring talent. In-house marketers often adapt to be more like a jack-of-all-trades in order to cover all of the company’s needs. Agencies devote resources to educating employees and keeping them on the cutting edge of their respective discipline. Additionally, the team environment within an agency fosters continual learning and growth.

3. COST.

Generally speaking, it’s significantly cheaper to partner with an agency rather than bring on a full in-house team. That being said, total cost can vary greatly based on the size of your business and how much you’re looking to accomplish. Both internal and external marketing can amount to a sizable investment. A full in-house group requires significant overhead, including salaries, benefits, office space, equipment, training, recruiting, and more. An external agency can be one of the largest line items in a marketing budget, and because of that can be an easy target for cuts and renegotiations. All things considered, a digital marketing agency is usually the most cost-effective solution for high-quality marketing work. For the same price as one or two full-time salaries, you gain access to a complete team of professionals across multiple marketing specialties.
Using a hybrid approach allows you to take advantage of having lower-cost internal creative help full-time, while also gaining the flexibility and skill diversification from a digital marketing agency when needed.


Partnering with a digital marketing agency is much less commitment than hiring a full in-house team. Your company isn’t responsible for any recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, or any of the other time-consuming and often expensive tasks that come along with a new employee. Marketing agencies are easier to hire and also easier to fire than an in-house employee (or at least, they should be), which means it will be easier to find a good fit between an agency and in-house team. Trust and communication are the foundation of a successful agency partnership, and finding an agency with which you can build that relationship is paramount.


When you partner with an agency, 100% of your investment goes toward the production of deliverables. None of your marketing budget is being spent on benefits, equipment, ongoing education, PTO, etc.
Agencies are also driven by efficiency. Managing multiple accounts means that agencies have a proven process in place that makes it possible for them to produce high-quality work that meets both deadlines and budgets. Typically, they can get this type of work done more quickly than an in-house team who might be working through it for the first time.


One of the biggest challenges for internal marketers is proving ROI. Agencies are results driven, and therefore want to make sure that they are gathering accurate, insightful data to guide the marketing strategy. Reporting is a crucial part of strengthening the partnership and for making informed decisions moving forward. Providing meaningful data is valuable to both the digital marketing agency and your company; it illustrates a mutual investment in success. Agencies are held accountable to all of their clients, and it’s another process that they have down to a science.


Working with multiple clients builds a large network of vendors and channels that can lead to further partnerships for your company, too. Agencies also have access to a vast number of tools and resources that either aren’t practical to have for only one company or that are exclusive to industry professionals. In addition to building a network through partnerships, agencies often exhibit work and are featured in publications, which can offer your company even more visibility.


Aside from the skill-gap, one of the biggest challenges in-house teams face is employee turnover. Marketing employees can be especially prone to burnout when working internally for one company for a few years, and their creativity can stagnate. As a result, many junior-to-mid-level marketers change jobs every 2-3 years. When an employee leaves, not only are there recruiter fees, interviewing costs, and training to account for, but also the work burden that falls on your other in-house employees while a replacement is found. That can mean a delay or halt in your marketing campaigns. With an agency partner, you can be certain that your marketing strategy will still be consistently executed month after month.


In order to increase overall production from an in-house team, you’d need to hire on more employees or contractors. Partnering with a digital marketing agency gives your company the flexibility to ramp up engagement (or slow it down) as needed. If you want to launch a new website, you can quickly increase the agency to create it. Once the website is live, you can allocate that time to another aspect of your campaign.


One of the greatest advantages that collaborating with an agency can offer is their creativity and objectivity. Keeping all marketing efforts in-house can sometimes lead to groupthink and tunnel-vision. A digital marketing agency isn’t influenced by any internal biases or assumed knowledge, so it’s easier to distill a clear message to the target audience. Internal teams often have such an in-depth knowledge that they try to say too much, and the core message is lost on the audience. An unbiased perspective can help sift through all of the unnecessary information, while remaining grounded enough to communicate clearly to the outside world.
Striking the right balance between internal and external work might take some adjustment. Perhaps it will make the most sense to hire a large internal team, only bringing in an agency for big-picture projects such as rebranding, strategy planning, or long-term campaigns that always take a back seat to immediate internal work. Or, maybe it will make more sense for your company to hire one or two in-house marketers to create daily deliverables while being the point of contact for your marketing agency, and then outsourcing most of the strategy and production to your agency partner. Even having one marketing manager in-house is a huge advantage. It provides a clear channel of communication, keeping other departments focused. It also means that your company has a dedicated person to review the reports, and who can then provide insights both internally and to the agency while they plan the next month’s strategy.

Odoo is Coming to Malta!

Odoo is proud to announce the release of our newest version, and is celebrating by coming to a city near you! Come join business professionals and software experts from a wide array of industries at this event!

This event brings together business owners, team leaders, IT professionals, and service providers from all over, to stay connected to a community dedicated to learn more about business management solutions. Come join us for presentations, demos, networking, and drinks at this exciting event and see how Odoo can help you grow businesses with a suite of fully integrated apps for every business need.

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Find the Perfect Solution for You:

     · Discover Odoo integrated business apps

     · Learn the best practices and strategies to improve the efficiency of your processes

     · See how Odoo will help you scale operations and grow your business

Benefits of Attending:

     · Meet Odoo experts for in-person demonstrations

     · Network with business professionals who share your interests and industry passion

     · Stay on top of the latest business management trends and technologies

     · Have fun and make connections with business professionals that go well beyond our            event and last a lifetime